New year, new location for Redeemer Dance Academy

Redeemer Dance Academy new location.
Students enjoying the first ballet class in the new studio. Photo credit: Courtesy of Leia Antunes.
Posted on: January 23, 2024

Redeemer Dance Academy has a new home. It can now be found in Hanley Hall Parish Centre, 30 McGill St North in Smiths Falls. Director and Instructor Leia Antunes is excited about the move. Redeemer was previously based at The Gallipeau Centre, “which was a real blessing,” Antunes says. “ they’re a great location for businesses.” 

The 2022-2023 year was the academy’s biggest year of growth; they currently have over 100 registered students and offer 28 classes a week. The high volume of students and classes required more studio space, and Hanley Hall provided that in a central location downtown. 

Redeemer was founded by Antunes’ friend Chelsea Gardiner in 2014. Antunes was alongside her from the beginning, helping her decide on the academy’s name, and being the only other dance instructor. The name points to their shared belief in Christ the Redeemer, Antunes says, and adds that everyone is welcome to the academy, “Christians or not, we welcome everyone.”

Gardiner stepped away from running the school in 2018, and at that point Antunes assumed the directorship. It has grown over the years: from two instructors in the beginning, the dance academy now boasts five instructors and three student instructors. 

“I want to be a more visible part of the community,” Antunes says. “I would love for Redeemer to be better known in Smiths Falls. We are a place of excellent dance training, a great place for a growing child and young teenager to express themselves in a safe environment.”

Hanley Hall is well known as a community-service hub, which Antunes is excited about. “They provide a Wednesday packed lunch, turkey dinners, pancake breakfasts – and mostly, it is seniors putting this on. I’m so excited that the studio will bring youth and families to that space, to bring their energy and in turn learn from the community how to be a part of what the Hall has been doing for years. I’m happy to become a part of it; to be more aware of what is going on there and ultimately contribute to it.” Antunes shared that the move to Hanley Hall has enabled her to reconnect with many seniors she knew as a child. “My family grew up attending that church and my sister’s family are currently active members of the parish,” she says, referring to St. Frances de Sales. Antunes grew up in Smiths Falls, and danced in Perth. Her dance instructor encouraged her to try out for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet training program at age 12, and she was accepted. She studied at this program for nine years before graduating and moving back home. 

Although she has extensive experience, Antunes points out that Redeemer is “not a professional dance school; we are a recreational dance studio – even if you’ve never danced before; this is for you.” They choose age-appropriate and clean music and costumes, and “try to instill a sense of integrity and hardwork and discipline in a happy environment. We welcome anyone regardless of their experience level; we will find a class that they will enjoy.”

You may have noticed their temporary sign on Hanley Hall; Antunes says that will change in the near future. “Now that we’re in a more central location, we’re going through Howling Designs to have a more permanent sign on the building.”

Hometown News
Author: Hometown News