Central Park Dance Celebrates 35 Years of Dance Education!

Under the direction of husband and wife Mario LaStrada and Maria Bai, Central Park Dance opened its original doors in 1982 with just one teacher and a few dozen students. Co-founder and Artistic Director Maria Bai offered classes in ballet, tap, jazz and creative movement in the basement of Dobbs Ferry’s Zion Episcopal Church.

Over the next five years, seeing a steady incline in registration and attendance, Central Park Dance moved to its current home in Scarsdale, with one studio, a modest boutique, and big plans. In the years to follow, the studio expanded to a vast 10,000 sq. ft., with four state-of-the-art studios, and a student body of nearly 2,000 dancers who can train seven days a week in more than 15 dance disciplines including ballet, pointe, jazz, contemporary, tap, hip hop, break dancing, lyrical, acro jazz, Latin jazz and belly dancing. In addition to dance, a comprehensive fitness schedule offers a full menu of other classes.

The studio offers training for young dancers (ages 2 and up), has founded performing companies, intensive and immersive workshops for the serious dancer, an extensive adult training program and offers students training from celebrated and trusted dance faculty.

“When I think about why Mario and I started 35 years ago, the mission has stayed the same,” says Bai. “It was and still is about sharing a love and knowledge of dance with the community. I never take my success for granted. We have been lucky to expand and grow, and I’ve had many generations come through our doors over the years, but at the root, it must always be about love. It is the only thing that can sustain something for so long.”

This 35th anniversary year offers alumni events and special scholarship opportunities. This year also welcomes dancers of all ages from the community to participate in their second annual Nutcracker performances, to take place at The Capitol Theatre on Dec. 17, 2017. Central Park Dance, 450 Central Park Ave., Scarsdale, N.Y. 723-2940. centralparkdance.com.

– Jean Sheff