OnStage Dance Company, a nonprofit dance organization that began in 2010, opened its first permanent studio location on Monday in Somerville.
The studio offers dance and fitness classes, workshops and the opportunity for nonprofessional dancers to perform in the Greater Boston area.
Executive director Jennifer Kuhnberg said that OnStage’s mission is to provide a place where all styles and levels of dancers can perform simply for the love of dance. She said that after her college dance years, it was hard to find opportunities to perform that were both welcoming and affordable. She is excited to see OnStage become that opportunity for others in the dance community.
“I think that we’re a really unique company, and there isn’t something out there like us,” Kuhnberg said. “We’re excited to have a home base now so we can bring people in and introduce them to what we do.”
Co-founder and assistant director Kelly Dwyer said one of the most rewarding aspects of OnStage is witnessing people who have not danced in years return to the stage. She said that she feels OnStage is providing a service to a community of dancers—of all backgrounds, styles and experience levels—who previously had no opportunity to be in the spotlight.
“We try to reach a very wide audience so that we can give people in the community a chance to come and do something they love,” Dwyer said. “Instead of dance [and performing] being something they used to love to do, now they can still do it.”
OnStage features a variety of dance styles, including jazz, ballet, contemporary, modern, hip-hop, tap, musical theater and varying cultural dance styles. Dancers choose a style and audition for a performance piece at no cost, and then are divided into groups based on skill level. The pieces are rehearsed once a week for 10 weeks and are then performed. Performance costs are $50 per routine, which includes 10 weeks of rehearsals, professional photography/videography of performances and two theatre performances.
In the past, OnStage rehearsed in rented studio spaces such as the Green Street Studio in Cambridge and the Brookline Ballet Studio in Brookline. Now, with a permanent location, Kuhnberg said OnStage hopes to grow its dance and fitness services into more than exclusively performance pieces.
“For the past few years we’ve mainly been a performance company, geared towards dancers with some level of dance experience,” Kuhnberg said. “Now we’re going full speed ahead offering classes and workshops.”
Jillian Coen, a Somerville resident and Zumba instructor, said she has been with OnStage since it began in 2010. She said that dancing with OnStage has been a great experience and has given all of the dancers confidence along with the opportunity to be in the spotlight.
“It makes you fall in love with yourself! You get so much confidence, being able to walk into a place, learn a dance, make friends,” Coen said. “You’re with the girls for weeks, hours and hours, and the day you show it off to everybody: It’s unbelievable.”
Diana Pilarski, a Brookline resident and OnStage member, said she is excited to see how OnStage will grow with the addition of its new studio.
“I think now that they have a home, the company is just going to take off completely,” Pilarski said. “It’s already grown, and I’ve seen it go through the different stages of development. We sold out both shows last season, which is incredible!”
OnStage is now located at 276 Broadway in the Winter Hill neighborhood. The renovated martial arts studio has a large, welcoming entryway that leads to a warehouse-feeling studio with renovated floors, newly hung mirrors and plenty of windows to provide natural light.
Dwyer said the vibe of the new studio and the growth of the organization has everyone excited. She said that OnStage is excited to open its doors and welcome new members. They hope to bring together Somerville and the greater dance community in a place open to everyone.
“You can’t really describe what the atmosphere [of the studio] is like, but it’s open and welcoming. We hope people can sense that when they walk in the door,” Dwyer said. “We’re just glad they’re coming.”
Season 5 auditions take place on April 7, from 1 to 8 p.m. Season 5 performances are scheduled for June 23 at the Boston Conservatory. For more information or to register for auditions, visit OnStage’s website.