Nestled under the School Street Pub is Gorham’s newest dance studio, Atlantic Dance Arts (ADA). Although the wall to wall ceiling mirrors and polished wood flooring are recent additions to the space, its owner, Mariel Roy, is an old dance star of Gorham. Most recently recognized for her work as the choreographer of Gorham High School’s winter musical, “Once on This Island” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas” at Biddeford City Theater, Roy (GHS ’07) has been practicing and performing in Maine’s creative art scene since the age of two.
Starting as a student at The Centre of Movement School of Performing Arts, Roy became an assistant teacher in middle school, taught solo at age 14, and continued to teach when home during break from the Palladino School of Dance program at Dean College. Roy knew early on that she wanted to bring her experience back home to Gorham.
“I always intended to come back here,” Roy said. “Once I got started and I saw how a dance studio was run, I thought, you know this is something I would want to do one day.”
Roy opened Atlantic Dance Arts in October and teaches there alongside fellow instructors Breanna Neal and Brittany Camire. The studio’s two professionally outfitted dance rooms allow for a wide variety of classes for dancers of all ages and skill level. Between the three instructors, ADA offers everything from classic ballroom, tap, and jazz instruction to musical theater, lyrical, hip-hop, and even a performance team for those interested in competition.
Creative Movement and Combo Classes are available for the youngest dance enthusiasts, and adult sessions of tap, ballroom, and more are offered for the mature crowd as well. Classes range from thirty minutes to an hour depending on skill and intensity, and Roy stressed that the low commitment of just one session a week for five weeks means that anyone can try it out.
However, ADA has become more than just a place to learn dance. Roy has imbued the studio’s physical space with her business’s mission— to be a place “Where friendships are formed and talents are nurtured”— by creating a welcoming atmosphere and being a positive role model, to which the students have responded wholeheartedly. Many head straight to the dance studio after school.
“And you’ll hear them coming!” Roy said. “They’re here to dance, but they hang out before, they do their homework. I’ve known them forever, so it’s nice that they look forward to coming here.” Roy also related that her dancers develop life-skills as well: “They have to be committed to something and follow through, and the team aspect is good, too.”
For those who are interested in learning more about the studio, dancing, or asking Roy further questions, Atlantic Dance Studio will be hosting an open house on January 13 from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm. There will be tours, snacks, and a chance to see the performance dance team practicing techniques and routines. Dancing, Roy said, is a lifelong pursuit you can start at any age, so all are welcome stop by.