West Chester Academy sashaying into expanded space

Project will benefit all performing arts programs
Posted at 12:00 PM, Jul 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-02 12:00:22-04

WEST CHESTER TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- Dancers soon will have some more wiggle room at one performing arts academy in West Chester.

West Chester Academy, which offers music, dance and gymnastics instruction, will see a significant expansion this summer.

The 12,000-square-foot West Chester Academy will see a 1,500-square-foot addition this summer. Photo provided

The academy opened about 10 years ago in a nearby strip plaza. It began operating in its own facility off state Route 747 two years ago.

“We didn’t have any idea we would be adding onto this facility two years later,” said academy owner Patsy Rabinowitz.

The addition will tack on about 1,500 square feet to the existing 12,000-square-foot building.

“Basically, we’re adding a very large dance studio,” Patsy Rabinowitz said.

The academy currently features small, medium and large dance studios. Accommodating its competitive dance teams within those studios has become increasingly challenging over the past two years.

“They’ve grown so much over the years that we’ve kind of outgrown even our largest studio that we have,” said Patsy’s husband and architect Paul Rabinowitz.

The studio will offer an additional 500 square feet over those currently available. That difference will give dancers a practice space the same size as the stages used for competition performances.

“It’s going to be the size of a full-size stage, so they aren’t going to be crammed in there,” said the Rabinowitzs' daughter, Jenna Schwenk, who teaches music classes at the academy.

While the addition will primarily benefit dancers, classes within the academy’s other disciplines will use the studio as well.

“The expansion will support all of our programs,” Patsy Rabinowitz said.

Accommodating the academy’s multiple performing arts was an important factor when designing the addition.

“I was trying to be really conscious about not showing favoritism to one department over the others,” Paul Rabinowitz said.

Musical theater is one class that will likely make use of the extra space, Schwenk said.

“I’m just super excited to be able to follow through on our goal to kind of reach as many people as we can,” she said.

The academy’s aerial silks program also will move into the new space and will incorporate more silks. The move could provide an opportunity to expand the program, which in the past has not been available for adults.

The academy’s leaders recently received zoning approval for the addition and are awaiting the zoning certificate needed for a building permit. They hope to start construction around July 10 and tentatively expect the project to be complete by the end of September.

While West Chester Academy's expansion will primarily benefit dancers, the new studio will be used across disciplines. Photo provided

The new studio will be in use almost immediately once complete.

“As soon as it’s ready and we get occupancy, we already have classes scheduled for that room,” Paul Rabinowitz said.

He doesn’t anticipate any further expansion in the future.

“We’re pretty landlocked,” he said.