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Doris Kaiser Performing Arts Academy

Dance classes move to Lakewood

Washington Contemporary Ballet in University Place is now the Doris Kaiser Performing Arts Academy in Lakewood. Courtesy photo

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Washington Contemporary Ballet has been serving up dance education since its founding in 1987, and it is now in the process of opening a new facility with a new name. The Doris Kaiser Performing Arts Academy will open this fall at 2510 84th St. in Lakewood. The WCB will be housed within the academy, and key performances, such as The Nutcracker and Spring Repertory Concerts, will remain. However, the Doris Kaiser Performing Arts Academy will have an expanded lineup of classes, possibly other performance groups within the academy, and an expanded special needs program.

A change of name for the WCB has been on the table for a while now due to the fact that while ballet is a primary focus, it's not the only type of dance offered. The name "Doris Kaiser Academy" comes from Artistic Director Ken Kaiser's mother, who raised five sons who were all taught to dance from a young age. All five grew up tap dancing and added ballet in later as a way to strengthen their dance and sports skills. Impressively, today, all five brothers are directors of ballet schools.

"While we have always maintained our primary focus on ballet training, as it is the foundation of all forms of dance, we have also offered tap, jazz, flamenco and others in our curriculum," Kaiser said. "Under the academy, we will add hip-hop, musical theater, yoga and expand our program for children with special needs."

Classes are available for adults and children of all ages.

The academy will also add a special program for young children ages 3 to 5. Kaiser is working with a nationally recognized program for this purpose that he can't yet release details about, but he did share that the program will include creative movement and storybook-themed classes. Birthday parties will also be available.

The company is known for its classes for children with special needs, and staff works with students who have autism, cerebral palsy, ADHD and more. Originally, these classes were only offered on Sundays, but now they will be offered on at least two weeknights as well in ballet and jazz. Special-needs classes focus on keeping class size small so that all students can have the attention from teachers they need, so this schedule stays as flexible as possible for parent and student needs.

"The main goal of the academy is to provide a positive artistic outlet to as many of our area's youth as we can possibly reach," said Kaiser. "WCB has always maintained that all children, regardless of any limitation, should have the opportunity to dance if that is their desire. By introducing many new programs at the academy, our goal is to have a comfortable, structured and nurturing environment to more of our area's young people in many forms of dance other than ballet."

The new location was chosen for many reasons, but one key reason is its proximity to military families. Kaiser's son served in the Air Force for six years, and his son-in-law was in the Army, which gives the school close ties to the armed forces. Over the past several years, WCB has dedicated concerts to those in the armed forces, and military families receive a 15 percent discount. Both The Nutcracker and Spring Repertory Concert offer military discounts at all performances as well.

The first semester at Doris Kaiser Performing Arts Academy will start on Sept. 2, and registration is now open. Nutcracker auditions take place the first week of classes, and all students can join in the auditions.

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