After seven years on Wantagh Avenue, Xtreme Rhythm Dance Academy of Wantagh has made its way to a new location on Sunrise Highway, aiming to be more centralized in the community.
Owner and instructor Jessica Taylor, 29, said the new studio, located at 3253 Sunrise Highway, is bigger than the previous one. It’s next to DJ’s Clam Shack Wantagh. Friends, family, dancers, officials and members of the Wantagh Chamber of Commerce officially unveiled the new spot on September 15 at a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought more kids and teens to Xtreme, Taylor said, and the new spot offers two practice rooms to accommodate them. “Our business has grown — I wouldn’t say because of Covid, because we’ve definitely lost kids,” Taylor said, “but we’ve gained new dancers who are part of our team.”
Taylor, of Little Neck, will operate the studio with three other instructors and offer multiple dance forms. Classes in hip-hop, ballet, acro, jazz, and more are offered September through June for toddlers through young adults, with recitals at the end of class. Taylor also instructs competitive studio teams.
Taylor isn’t an amateur dancer: She graduated from Long Island High School for the Arts in Plainview and was later selected for the Broadway Dance Center’s “professional semester,” where she trained with renowned choreographers. She danced competitively for eight years, choreographed schools and summer shows, and even performed with a New York Giants dance team in 2011, the year they won Super Bowl XLVI. The team was not affiliated with the National Football League.
Taylor said she enjoys challenging her students and seeing them succeed, and isn’t afraid to keep them on a strict diet. “Each teacher has their own vision of how they want to teach things,” she said. “I’m huge on discipline and responsibility and pushing them – I think that’s a big part of dancing. I always tell my kids, “Be comfortable with the idea of being uncomfortable.” Diamonds are made under pressure. Always push yourself.
Wantagh resident Heather Deutsch said five years ago her 8-year-old daughter Rosie was looking for a local studio where she could perform acro dance. Rosie was immediately “hooked on the Ms. Jessica personality,” Heather recounted. “It exploded from there. She wanted to do everything. …Jessica engages the kids, cares about them, and has created teams that bond with each other.
Rosie, who attends Jonas E. Salk Middle School in
Levittown, have been dancing with a competitive Xtreme team for three years. Her mother said the larger room still offered the same sense of community. “I think people feel more like they belong because they grew up with [the studio],” she says.
Maria Catalano, from Merrick, said she saw a “transformation” in her 6-year-old daughter, Frankie Schoptmann, following lessons at Xtreme. Catalano said Frankie is looking forward to taking competitive lessons at the new studio.
“She’s grown so much,” Catalano said. “Her confidence is improving on every level. What she learns in dance is so much more than dancing. She learns determination, resilience and what it means to be part of a team.