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New Hampshire Academy of Performing Arts Helps Students Discover Their Inner Dancer

By Pamela Sosnowski

Over its 60-year history, the New Hampshire Academy of Performing Arts (NHAPA) of Seabrook has taught over 20,000 students the steps and finesse of several dance genres including ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, and hip hop. The dance school's mission is not just to make its students into great dancers, but teach them skills that will enrich every aspect of their lives.

"The skill sets one acquires from dance go far beyond the steps learned in class," explains Robyne Patent, Associate Director. "Dance builds other important life skills such as work ethic, determination, confidence, sequencing skills and teamwork. Dance can be a life long sport for anyone!"

Founded in 1957 by Artistic Director Marie Patent (Robyne's mother), the school was voted the 2016 "Family Favorite Seacoast Dance Studio" by Parenting magazine. It's also a family-run business, with Robyne's sister Kim serving as the other associate director. Marie Patent is a 50 year accredited member of the Dance Teacher's Club of Boston, Dance Masters of America and Dance Educators of America. The faculty are both experienced and professional, ensuring an inspiring and progressive classroom environment.

The school offers a complete curriculum for students as young as two and a half years old through adulthood. The youth division for the youngest students focuses on the foundations of dance including rhythm, balance, flexibility, spatial awareness, musicality, and teamwork.

"Our personal approach with each student ensures an individualized dance education program which is progressive, challenging and inspirational," says Patent. "Our mission is to instill an appreciation for the art of dance, build strong technique and diverse exposure to the different genres."

Leveled classes are available in ballet, jazz, tap, contemporary, hip hop, and lyrical, and adult program sessions are held in ballet and jazz. For new dancers that wish to get a taste of a genre without a commitment, the school offers sampler classes. Of all of the genres offered, hip hop rules according to Patent. "Many of our new students LOVE our hip hop classes, a great work out for any age, with upbeat and contemporary music."

Once a young student has several years of dance training under their belt, they may choose to audition for the Seacoast Civic Dance Company, NHAPA's non-profit dance troupe which combines an intensive dance study program with professional performance opportunities. The SCDC consists of dancers 12 to 18 years old, who perform at local and national venues including the Prescott Park Arts Festival, Universal Studios, Boston Celtics pre-game Shows, and charity events such as the Stride's Against Breast Cancer Walk and Big Brothers/Big Sisters. This December, the troupe's oldest dancers will travel to Hawaii to perform for the 75th Anniversary Commemorative at Pearl Harbor.

Dance is not just a form of exercise; it teaches lifelong skills and helps children and adults alike form new friendships. As NHAPA prepares to celebrate its 60th season, the staff looks forward to helping many more students discover their inner dancer!

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