Business

Hiawatha dance studio more than doubles in size

Dancer's Edge serves 900 students

Ten years after Charlie and Stephanie Vogl founded the Dancer’s Edge in Hiawatha, their business is a major physical expansion.

With about 900 students enrolled, Stephanie said studio space has more than doubled from the original 13,000 square feet constructed in 2011-2012 to just over 30,000 square feet.

“We were not able to keep up with demand for dance classes,” Vogl said. “There were a number of times when all of our classes were full, and we wanted to stay with the same high quality level of service.

“We have nine studio rooms, and they run Monday through Thursday.”

The students range from two-year-olds taking one class per week to 18-year-old high school seniors. With the additional studio space, the Dancer’s Edge has resumed adult classes, which had been discontinued when all the younger classes were full.

The Vogls bought an adjoining lot when they built their studio at 1550 Hawkeye Dr., believing they would need the space to expand if their business continued to attract more students.

“We knew that the lots were being snapped up fairly quickly, so we decided to purchase it and sit on it for eight years,” she said. “When we were having to turn students away because our classes were so full, we began having conversations with our bank and a contractor.

“It kind of snowballed from there and everything went very smoothly.”

The Dancer’s Edge, which the Vogls believe is the largest privately owned dance studio in the country, has attracted some of the biggest names in the dance industry to Eastern Iowa each year to work with students.

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They include Ivan Koumaev, Justin Timberlake’s co-choreographer and dancer; Jaimie Goodwin, a finalist on the TV show “So You Think You Can Dance”; Rhapsody James, who has worked with Beyonce and Madonna, among others; tap dancer and Guinness World record holder Anthony Morigerato; and Kim McSwain, a nationally known dance instructor who brings artist-in-residence classes to a local studio.

“It’s the kind of talent that Charlie and I wish we had had access to when we were growing up here in Eastern Iowa,” Vogl said. “They are the best of the best.

“They will not fly to Iowa if there is not enough demand for their classes. Having enough space for the number of students to make it worth their while is really important.

“I think it has really helped put us on the map. Seeing Justin Timberlake on the Super Bowl and realizing that they’ve had his choreographer working with them really inspires our students.”

The Dancer’s Edge has about 60 people on its payroll, with the majority working part time as instructors. Vogl said more instructors will be added as classes continue to grow.

“We are actively hiring, looking for more talent to add to our team,” she said. “That’s been one of our challenges over the years.”

The popularization of dance-inspired television shows and rising interest in dance as an alternative form of exercise has had a positive effect on the dance studio industry over the past five years, according to IBIS World, an international industry research organization.

The $3.5 billion industry has experienced strong growth, partly among those studios offering Latin-inspired, fitness, fusion and ballroom dance classes. Vogl said the Dancer’s Edge has worked to bring new dance trends to the area.

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“I feel like Eastern Iowa has been a little bit ‘old school’ in terms of its dance education,” she said. “We want to help our students be prepared if they want to go into a career in dance or the theater.

“That’s why we are bringing in all this national talent to help usher in a new era.”

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