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Dance theatre offers year-round opportunities

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Huntington Dance Theatre is Huntington’s only nonprofit dance studio, open to students of all ages and levels, with many different opportunities to perform. 

The studio offers ballet technique, pointe, contemporary, jazz, musical theater, hip hop, adult ballet and a variety of movement classes for kids ages three to five.  

“We put on a production of The Nutcracker every December and a spring show that is a showcase of all the different styles of dance that are taught year-round,” said Taylor Massie, instructor, choreographer and dancer at Huntington Dance Theatre. 

The studio strives to partner with community organizations to further arts education. For example, it partners with the Huntington Museum of Art and shows selections of the Nutcracker. 

“One of my favorite parts about the studio is having the opportunity to do Nutcracker every year rather than doing a different ballet every year,” said Rachel Rahrbach, a dancer for 17 years at the studio. “It gives more name recognition in the community and allows you as dancers to be able to set more defined goals to progress every year. 

“Since HDT is a nonprofit, it makes it different because the teachers are more caring and dedicated to their students,” Rahrbach said. “It is a welcoming environment without hostility and most of the dancers have danced there their whole lives. They have grown up there rather than dancing at multiple different studios.” 

Huntington Dance Theatre also participates in the West Virginia Dance Festival every year. 

It is a weekend full of dance at the West Virginia Culture Center in Charleston. Dance teachers from across the country are brought in to teach different styles of dance to studios from throughout the state, Massie said. 

There are showcase performances by professional guest artists and other studios on Friday and Saturday night during the weekend, said Rahrbach. 

“I primarily had ballet classes, but teachers varied from people who had danced at the studio since they were kids to professionals who had performed across the country with premier ballet companies,” Rahrbach said. 

 “HDT has such a close-knit family environment,” Massie said. “We all dance together but we aren’t just friends who see each other every night for a few hours- we all go the extra mile to support each other in every aspect of life which I think makes us really special.” 

Anna Marsh can be contacted at [email protected]

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