Did you hear that Ohana School of Performing Arts in now in Chicopee? If not, you'll want to check out their grand opening on September 5 to learn more about this inclusive dance and fitness community.
Although Ohana originally opened in July 2016, they recently moved the location of their studio from South Hadley to Chicopee and now it's time to celebrate the new space.
Who: Ohana School of Performing Arts Grand Opening
What: Ribbon cutting, refreshments, community
When: Thursday, September 5 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Where: 41 Sheridan Street in Chicopee
Why: Classes available for all ages and abilities
Ohana's Owner & Creative Director, Ashley Kohl (most of us know her from WWLP's Mass Appeal show) was a professional dancer for most of her life. While at WWLP, she filmed a story highlighting a local dance class for all abilities, helping her realize her true passion and purpose. Seeing the impact dance had on people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds, she immediately focused on the journey to create her own studio that educates and trains dedicated, disciplined dancers, but also raises good humans with love & compassion for all.
According to Kohl, “My goal is to bring dance to everyone, no matter their age or ability... and to give people a supportive outlet to be creative. It’s much more than shaping incredibly trained and disciplined dancers, it’s about believing in the arts, celebrating each other and giving back to the community.”
Once a month, students gather for team building exercises that promote kindness to others while showing the importance of helping others through a program called Wingman for Dance. The ‘wingman program’ teaches students about kindness, self-acceptance, diversity & inclusion, giving back and community service. Community is a core value of the studio, and one way students’ give back is through annual charity performances, supporting local organizations including the Make-A-Wish Foundation of MA & RI, We Love Riley Foundation, Willpower, & One Ohana, among others. To further promote her mission, Kohl founded “One Ohana, Inc.”, a registered 501 ©(3) non-profit organization that awards scholarships to dancers of all ages and abilities throughout the Pioneer Valley -- not just dancers at her studio.
The journey to their new location was a chaotic road for Ohana, after being forced to relocate from their previous building in South Hadley less than 2 months before their annual end-of-year showcase in June. The building that their previous studio occupied was sold abruptly in the Spring, leaving Ohana only 6 weeks to find a space, renovate, and move. That road led them to Sheridan Street in Chicopee, and they are thrilled about joining the vibrant community in Chicopee Falls. The ribbon cutting ceremony will be celebrating not only a new chapter for the studio, but an expansion on their studio size and class offerings.
Classes include ballet, tap, hip hop, musical theater, contemporary, parent/child combo classes, adult level classes, fitness and more. According to Kohl, while quality education is incredibly crucial, it’s even more important to Ohana that each student to leave the studio having learned to value kindness, compassion and inclusivity.
As Kohl says, “We are not only shaping bodies, we are shaping hearts, too.”
Registration is being accepted for the 2019-2020 class year for ages 1 and up. Classes are held Monday - Thursday evenings and on Saturday mornings. You can find the schedule here.
There will be an Open House and registration on August 24 from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at the new location. You can tour the facility, meet the faculty, and sign up for classes. For all events and updates, follow Ohana on their Facebook page.