Dance center finds a home

New Hopewell Center for the Arts to have grand opening Saturday

New Hopewell Center for the Arts to have grand opening Saturday

October 10, 2003|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

Kearneysville, W.Va. - This time, Kathy Windle plans to stay.

In 1996, when she and her husband, Wesley, bought a Kearneysville farm house, she opened a dance studio in the basement. About 30 students signed up. She quickly needed more room.

She moved the studio into her barn, about 50 feet away. The number of students swelled to 180.

She moved again - this time into a vacant building on Industrial Boulevard that she said haunted her each time she drove by.

That's the short story of how the New Hopewell Center for the Arts was born.

Windle, 46, said she and Wesley hopped from home to home and from state to state for many years - as far south as Georgia and as far north as the Canadian border.


Wesley Windle, 48, works for the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection and repeatedly was transferred to other jobs. Now, though, he's a fixture at the bureau's headquarters in Washington.

The New Hopewell Center for the Arts is in a 10,000-square-foot building that will be showcased in a grand opening on Saturday. Kathy Windle said parts of the center have been open for about a year, but the building is entirely renovated and ready now, so she's celebrating.

The move from her basement to her barn "felt like going into a castle," she said. In the new building, "it's like a city."

The Hopewell Center for the Arts offers dance, art and music instruction. Saturday's grand opening will have a sample of each.

Windle, the center's artistic director and president, said about 20 teachers and coaches lead classes in baton twirling, ballet, tap dancing, Irish step dancing, watercolor, photography, stained glass, sculpting, singing, playing various instruments and more.

The center has seven music rooms, five dance rooms, two art rooms, a snack bar and a locker room. The number of students is around 400.

Windle already is planning to add a 5,000-square-foot gymnasium next year to accommodate activities that need a high ceiling.

That modest dance class in her 16-foot-by-20-foot basement seems like "three lives ago," she said.

Windle ran a dance studio when she lived in snowy Cape Vincent in northern New York.

But she avoided opening a dance studio while the couple lived in Georgia, their last home, because she knew they wouldn't be there long.

When the Windles bought their 10-acre farm in Kearneysville in 1996, she still didn't think seriously about dance.

"I was bound and determined to be a farmer," she said.

Within two months or so, Kathy Windle felt herself pulled back toward dance.

As she put it, "Once you get bitten by the bug ..."

Center's grand opening scheduled

The schedule for Saturday's grand opening of the New Hopewell Center for the Arts at 28 Industrial Blvd. in Kearneysville, W.Va.

  • 9 a.m.: Ribbon-cutting ceremony

  • 9 a.m.: Jefferson High School Jazz Band

  • 9:30 a.m.: New Hopewell Gems

  • Colin Dunne, the lead dancer of Riverdance, will lead a workshop for beginner and intermediate dancers at 10 a.m. and a workshop for advanced dancers at 11:30 a.m.

  • Lane Napper, the casting director for Nickelodeon, will lead a workshop on video jazz at 11:30 a.m. and a television and theater acting class at 1 p.m.

  • Mike Boyce, a principal with the New York City Opera, will lead a voice workshop for beginners at 11:30 a.m. and a voice workshop for intermediates at 2:30 p.m.

  • Kelsea Fleisher, a teacher with the Broadway Dance Center, will lead a jazz workshop for intermediate and advanced students at 1 p.m.

  • 1 to 5 p.m.: Ballroom classes

  • A grand-opening gala will start with a social hour at 6 p.m., followed by dinner and dancing at 7 p.m.

The cost is $45 per workshop ($30 for current students), $15 per ballroom class hour and $25 per person for gala tickets. People also may pay $89 for all workshops and classes and a gala ticket. To register, call 304-728-1358.

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