September 20, 2017 01:52PM
By Mark Dionne
When Kayleigh Crocetto brings young students out onto the floor of Dance Central, her new dance studio in Middlefield, she is repeating a practice that began her own love of dance.
Crocetto’s Dance Central classes actually take place in the same building where she first started dancing at about age 3, with the since-closed Middlesex Dance Center.
“It’s hard to put into words, but it’s always made me so happy,” Crocetto said, “and I think it’s a great way to form relationships and make friends. One of the reasons I’m so excited for this is I want to form a group of dancers that are like a family.”
Opened in August, Dance Central offers instruction in tap, jazz, ballet, lyrical/contemporary, and hip-hop with classes arranged by age and experience level. Crocetto also recently received her license in Zumba fitness and will begin offering Zumba fitness classes.
The renovated studio, at 500 Main St. in Middlefield, has an open room with a mirrored wall, sound equipment, and a marley dance floor as well as a waiting area equipped with a TV feed, so parents can watch the dance lessons in progress.
Crocetto hopes to give students the opportunity to benefit from the practice of dance the way she has.
“It’s always been a dream since about 8th grade. When I saw there was no studio in town I thought this would be a great time.”
A junior at Central Connecticut State University, Crocetto brings some of her education to the dance studio.
Similar to the way a successful classroom is formed, the approach at Dance Central, Crocetto said, will create a positive and comfortable environment where students can bond over a shared practice and love of dance.
“Dance is something that you can go into and forget everything else going on in life. It’s a great way you can express yourself.”
At Dance Central, competitions will be optional.
“There are stereotypes about competitions and being negative for dancers,” said Crocetto. Instead of overly aggressive teachers or pitting students against each other, Crocetto sees competition as an opportunity for team bonding and exposing students to other dancers. “You’ve got to keep it positive,” she said.
Although she graduated from Coginchaug Regional High School, dance brought Crocetto to the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts for two years in high school.
She also joined the professional ballet group CONNetic Dance at 13. Crocetto still dances with CONNetic Dance, which performs in Hartford. Crocetto often plays Clara in CONNectic Dance’s annual holiday update “The Nutcracker Suite & Spicy.”
Crocetto has also done some choreography, for solo competitive dancers and CRHS’ production of “Guys & Dolls.”
“The plan is to make this a life-long venture,” Crocetto said of Dance Central. “I just love dance, so any way I can make that work … There’s not enough in this area. Hopefully it will be a good thing for the town to have it right here.”