PHOENIXVILLE — Ever since high school, Brittany Flaherty-Ryan’s dream has been to open her own dance studio.
Recently, Flaherty-Ryan of Chester Springs achieved that dream. Kimberton Dance Academy started offering summer camps and classes in June at Franklin Commons.
Children and teens can develop their skills by taking various dance classes including ballet, lyrical, jazz, hip-hop, tap and modern. Ballet, pointe, tap, Latin Jazz Fusion and Zumba are offered for adults.
“Lyrical has its fundamentals in ballet,” Flaherty-Ryan said. “Basically it’s acting out the music with whatever movement you are doing. It’s more ballet-based modern.”
Area residents can also take group and private ballroom dancing lessons at Kimberton Dance Academy.
After visiting Phoenixville for recreation, Flaherty-Ryan saw the opportunity of opening a studio in the borough.
“Phoenixville has definitely been calling out to me for a few years,” Flaherty-Ryan said. “We started coming out to go to restaurants here and saw how Phoenixville had grown so much and saw how cute it was.”
She completed some research and found a lot of studios are located in Downingtown, West Chester and Exton, but not a lot in Phoenixville.
Another attractive part of opening the studio in Phoenixville is the walkable component, Flaherty-Ryan said.
Families in the north side of Phoenixville have the convenience of walking to Franklin Commons instead of driving, she said.
Some people, especially teens, have come to the studio inquiring about classes who have never taken a dance class before.
“I tell them that right now we’re small and a lot of the classes are hands-on so they can get caught up (on what they need to learn),” Flaherty-Ryan said.
She said she’s grateful to her husband, Dan Ryan, who has been very supportive of her goals and has been involved with the construction of the studio.
Flaherty-Ryan started dancing at the young age of 5. She took lessons at Chester Valley Dance Academy in Exton. She said the director there Cathy Bartelmo-Moran, was a good role model for her.
“She started the business when she was 19,” she said. “She started it when there was really nothing going on in Exton. She grew it into a business that’s thriving very well now.”
“I’ve always looked up to her,” Flaherty-Ryan said. “She made good business decisions. She tried to be fair and she tried to make sure the dance studio was very nurturing.”
Flaherty-Ryan took ballet classes as well as modern and jazz classes at the studio. Eventually she was a substitute teacher for some classes.
At Indiana University in Bloomington, she took contemporary classes (jazz, ballet and modern fused into one class). She majored in ballet and business.
“I wanted to at least try dancing professionally,” she said. “I thought that would give me a good degree and then I could dance professionally and (open a studio).”
“When I got there, it wasn’t really what I thought it was going to be,” Flaherty-Ryan said. “I didn’t like the atmosphere. It was really far from home and it was a little expensive.”
Ultimately, after attending the college, she transferred to Temple.
Flaherty-Ryan majored in strategic and organizational communications and minored in business.
Although she wasn’t majoring in dance at Temple, she still took some classes. She met Tim Early who was teaching classes and he asked her to join a dance company, Opus 1.
“That started a great relationship because I’ve been able to dance with him and the company since junior year of college and it’s kept me dancing,” Flaherty-Ryan said.
Early is one of the teachers at Kimberton Dance Academy now. Flaherty-Ryan has had experience teaching dance before at South Jersey Performing Arts.
She will be teaching ballet, jazz, lyrical, modern and early dance classes for ages 3 to 6. In addition to Flaherty-Ryan and Early there will be three other teachers.