Mon09012014

Business & Real Estate

From their heads to their toes: Bay Area Dance School provides education-rich dance experience


Photo By: Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Photo Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier

Nine-year-old Jesigga Sigurdardottir goes through floor exercises during ballet class at Leyla Boissonnade’s Bay Area Dance School.

Leyla Boissonnade’s philosophy is that good dancers should think as well on their feet as in the classroom.

With a plan to combine dance and academics, Boissonnade is scheduled next month to officially open Bay Area Dance School (BADS) at 4600 El Camino Real, Suite 106, in Los Altos.

Boissonnade’s studio will offer dance lessons, of course, but also academic, college prep and SAT support.

“I want to make a place (at the studio) for kids to do homework,” she said, adding that she plans to provide her students with academic tutors. “I want to make an environment based on learning and achievement.”

BADS will offer ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, acro, contemporary hip-hop and boys classes that expose students to new and traditional styles, said Boissonnade, who studied dance, psychology and education at UC Berkeley. While teaching the art and genres of dance, the studio will maintain a focus on education.

Boissonnade, who wants to help her students gain admittance to college-level dance programs, plans to bring in staff from university programs to explain their unspoken, often-puzzling rules regarding applications and how to boost dancers’ chances for admission.

Los Altos is the ideal site for BADS, said Boissonnade, noting that she views the community as a place that cares about and empowers its youth.

“Los Altos has a lot of potential,” she said. “There are a lot of great schools. I like the downtown area. It’s convenient for parents and safe for my teenagers. The Los Altos Library is less than a mile away, and it’s located near a lot of high schools.”

And the thought of competition doesn’t faze her. Boissonnade said she was attracted to Los Altos as a dance-school destination because of the number of dance studios already established.

“It’s important for dance schools to connect,” she said, adding that she’s disappointed by the typically competitive relationships among schools.

Boissonnade said BADS will offer classes for all ages, including structured, fun courses for children 5 and under.

“I love working with children,” said Boissonnade, who also provides private lessons and coaching for ice skaters and gymnasts. “You have to believe in a child’s potential and give them the tools (to succeed).”

For older, more experienced dancers, the school will develop an “acuity” program by invitation and audition only. Participating students will take classes five to six days per week. The program is “for people who love to dance but know they want to go to college,” Boissonnade said.

Beyond academics, Boissonnade said her BADS model offers a holistic view of what dance is – joy.

“Passion can really help shape a child’s future,” she said, adding that many students benefit from incorporating dance in their lives.

For more information, call 472-2214 or visit bayareadances.com.

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