Some dancers in Greenport not only have more room to stretch their limbs, they also have new instructional opportunities to help them perfect their talents.
That’s because Main Stage Dance Academy on Main Road in Greenport recently expanded into the building’s second floor. Owner Lucille Naar-Saladino said she’s excited about the new space because she’ll be able to offer more sections of popular dance classes and new programs, including theater arts and yoga for kids.
In addition to the new programs, Ms. Naar-Saladino’s studio offers Broadway babies, kids’ cheer, ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop, lyrical and acrobatics, as well as private lessons.
While the second floor had been vacant since she opened her studio six years ago, Ms. Naar-Saladino said she’s always had her eye on it and reached an agreement with her landlord, Southold Town Trustee Michael Domino, this summer to expand her business. Since then, the nearly 1,000-square-foot space has been painted and a wood floor was installed. She also purchased a MirrorLite, which is portable and feels like plastic wrap to the touch.
“Last year, I had three or four classes close,” Ms. Naar-Saladino said during a recent interview. “We cap classes at about 12 students. I had a waiting list and I had to make sure I didn’t turn anyone down this year.”
Before starting her teaching career that spans over 30 years, the Queens native’s love of dance began when she was about 5 or 6 years old. One summer, while playing in a playground, she noticed dancers wearing pink tights and black leotards standing in the open doorway of a nearby dance studio.
“I looked at my mother and said ‘I want to do that. I want to dance,’ ” Ms. Naar-Saladino recalled.
After graduating from the High School of Performing Arts in Manhattan (now known as LaGuardia Arts), she danced as a Rockette before moving to Nevada and performing in Reno and Las Vegas shows. Ms. Naar-Saladino also danced on tour with the Broadway show “42nd Street.” She later returned to Manhattan, decided to change careers and became the director of catering at the historic Algonquin Hotel in midtown.
After meeting her husband, John, she then moved to Greenport, where he lived, and decided to get back into dancing. At first, Ms. Naar-Saladino rented space in local churches to teach dance classes. Then, in 2008, Mr. Saladino suggested she open her own school.
“I said, ‘Are you crazy?,’ ” Ms. Naar-Saladino recalled about the conversation that took place during the height of the country’s financial meltdown. With her husband’s support, and seeing there was a need for a dance school in the area, Ms. Naar-Saladino decided to go for it.
In addition to having her students march in local parades and participate in community events, Ms. Naar-Saladino has also become involved in helping with Greenport School District’s theater program. In April, the district agreed to install a cyclorama curtain — a white screen that’s used as a stage backdrop to change scenery and create atmosphere through the use of projected images — after she submitted a proposal to split the $5,000 cost.
Ms. Naar-Saladino said dance is important because she believes people benefit from the art form’s discipline and structure.
“Myself and my teachers lead with an iron fist and a velvet glove,” she said. “We’re tough with the kids as far as their dance training, but on the other hand, they have a great time and have fun. It’s very rewarding.”