Support quality local journalism. Become a subscriber.

Didn't get a chance to finish your story? Purchase a day pass digital subscription and you'll receive unlimited online access for one day (24 hours). You will have immediate access upon completion of your purchase.

The making of a dance academy

The NIDA owner and instructor Anna Steil-Kerns stands in one of the three dance studios under construction at her relocated dance academy, junction of Highways 150 South and 281.

Steil’s Studio of Dance in Oelwein is starting off the 2019-2020 dancing season with a new name and (soon) a new location.

Owner and dance instructor Anna Steil-Kerns announced the new name of her dance studio is Northeast Iowa Dance Academy (NIDA), which will soon be located in the former Dean’s Destination Powersports building at the junction of Highways 150 S and 281 at the southern edge of Oelwein.

“The location is really ideal,” Anna said. “The new building is at the crossroads of traffic from the north, south and west. There is good parking and more visibility and easy access here for students traveling from out of town.”

Anna said the old dance studio next to the Coliseum on First Street SW has been a good studio with lots of great memories for herself and students, but her business has really outgrown the space. She started her dance studio at the old location 12 years ago, renting the space where her former dance instructor Theresa Brown, had operated the studio for 15 or more years before her.

“The floor is close to 30 years old,” Anna said, talking about the life expectancy of a dance studio floor. “We will really appreciate the new one when we get moved in.”

The new dance facility to be finished in a few weeks, will feature state-of-the-art Marley multi-purpose flooring in its two separate large studios. A third, slightly smaller studio is also being constructed. Anna said her husband Blake did the research on the flooring and they visited other studios in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City to get ideas for the layout of the vast space of the new building.

Anna explained that all movement generates energy. The jumping, tapping, leaping and acrobatic movements of dance cannot be achieved on a concrete floor. Dance instruction requires flooring with a certain amount of shock absorption, which is in the composition of Marley flooring. The multi-layered surface consists of basket-weave and foam floating sub-floors.

Anna said Blake has worked closely with Andrew Miller and Miller’s Construction, Inc., on the installation of the special floors, a first of this type of work for Miller and his crew.

Studios 1 and 2 are the same size, 30-by-50-feet, and each will have a wall of viewing windows so parents can watch but the studios will be closed off to outside noise and distractions. Anna said the new enclosed studios will be better for the little ones to stay focused, but her older students have been used to a more casual setting and will need to adapt.

“Studios 1 and 2 are each the same size as the Williams Center stage. Since that is one of our main performance stages, we decided to make our studios that size,” Anna said, explaining that the choreography will not have to be adapted to fit. The routines her students learn in the studio will directly transition to the same amount of space on stage.

“NIDA is more than a school of dance classes. We wanted to create a location and facility here where dancers in northeast Iowa can train. Those who are seriously pursuing dance in college will have a facility in which to practice and train,” Anna said.

In addition to the three dance studios, NIDA will also have space for students to “chill,” do homework, and have a snack. There will be dressing rooms, restrooms, an office, and locker space.

Anna’s dream of becoming a ballerina began at age 9 when she started taking dance classes from Theresa Brown. She said she was kind of a latecomer by dancer standards, but she knew from her first class that becoming a dancer was what she wanted to pursue. She studied dance at the University of Iowa and her successful career eventually led her back to her hometown, where she wanted to share her love of dance with other aspiring artists.

Now, Anna’s dream-come-true is coming full circle with NIDA close to completion and her vision is a tangible reality. The instructional staff helping her with classes includes Hannah Schmidt, now a student at UNI, Ashlyn Mustard and Sarah Kastli, all Oelwein grads, and Elsie Van Daele, an Oelwein senior. The selection of former students was important to Anna.

“They know what is expected and the culture we want to create here,” Anna said.

In addition to ballet, tap, jazz, and hip hop, she has added acro to the list of options at the academy. Acro includes five elements of tumbling, limbering, flexibility, strength and balance.

“All of our classes continue to attract students and meet their needs,” Anna said. “We hope all who attend NIDA will find their place and enjoy the space.”

For more information on NIDA classes and openings, persons may contact Anna Steil-Kerns, 563-608-0556.