Although passersby in Shinnston’s downtown area cannot see the many changes that have taken place inside what was most recently Game Day, the transformation is nothing less than phenomenal! It will become more obvious when the new marquee is in place outside, dramatically drawing attention to Shinnston’s newest business – Ingra & Co. – a dance studio that will offer all sorts of opportunities for little ones and teens and yes, even adults!
Ingra Pratt of Meadowbrook is the owner/instructor, and this has been a “dream” of hers for 30 years. She loves this new adventure so much that she says she almost feels like she’s getting away with something she shouldn’t be doing!
Ingra trained in gymnastics for a short period but has been dancing since her very early childhood. Of all dance forms, she admits that en pointe ballet is her main passion. She has attentively studied “Vaganova”, a Russian style ballet, for 5-6 years, confessing that she finds it very moving.
The building that will house Ingra & Co. has a sustained history in the community. Once the Princess Theatre, it was later home to Joyce Furniture Company, Ideal Material Shoppe, and most recently Game Day. Now, she too hopes to establish a history of her own.
Since gaining entrance to the building the end of July, in just three weeks’ time, the interior (5,000 square feet with more upstairs!) has been drastically gutted, cleaned and reconfigured. Two new rooms have been formed; all new drywall has been hung; the entire electrical system has been replaced; new doors have been hung; and new subfloors have been put down – making way for brand new flooring that will be dancer-friendly.
Interior painting is underway now. Black and white will be dominant with splashes of energizing purple, lime green, and candy pink for visual interest and stimulation. The new flooring will hopefully go down by week’s end, and then special touches like chandeliers, mirrors, art on the walls, etc. will be put in place.
“At the moment, I have so many things in progress and I am so excited that this is really happening … I am too involved to pay attention to a clock,” Ingra said. I know it is ticking down the moments until my grand opening, but I am enjoying myself so much, I just don’t notice as the days pass by!”
Inside, patrons will be greeted by a grand entrance, a lobby area, parents’ waiting area, dressing room, rest room, and of course a large studio area with mirrored walls and a barre for stretching. And, because Ingra’s mind is so filled with creative thoughts for the future, there may be more surprises to come!
What made her dream become a reality after 30 years of waiting? She says that because she is a wife and mother to teenage twins, the timing just wasn’t right before. Family was her first priority and her dream was put on hold. And then ……
“I suppose it all started when I volunteered to coach the danceline at Lumberport Middle School a couple of years ago,” she explained. “Many of the girls didn’t think they could dance, but they could! All they needed was some guidance and confidence, and they truly impacted my life. I discovered that there is a need for what I can teach young people. I saw for myself that kids in this area are so talented; they can sing and dance and there are artists among them. There are not enough outlets for their talents. I want to contribute to being a part of that outlet for them.”
Ingra noted that she, too, needed support and encouragement to make her dream a reality after all these years.
“A couple of LMS moms – Betty Wilson and Melissa Garrison – really urged me to do this and it gave me the extra boost I needed,” she said. “And my mother, Alice Hunt, has worked so hard right along beside me during these weeks of preparation. So many people have given me positive feedback and it stimulated me to move forward.”
A real blessing, she confides, has been her husband C.J., an engineer and project manager with R&E Industries in Morgantown. He has not only supported her dream but also provided the construction expertise and manpower that she has needed.
“And, last but certainly not least, the Small Business Administration’s loan funding truly made this all possible for me,” she added.
Classes will be offered in ballet, tap, theatre tap, contemporary, hip hop, and Irish hard step. There will be creative movement for ages 3-4, and progressive dance for those 4-5 years of age. Those over 14 may particularly enjoy Ingra’s Bollywood class, where students will learn the important meaning of hand motions – something of Indian origination. She will also have an adult fuze class with stretching and jazz movements.
Why dance? Ingra says there are so many reasons! “Adults often find it therapeutic; it’s good for you to dance! It’s ‘fun fitness’. Who wouldn’t benefit from better balance, flexibility, coordination, strength – and most importantly, confidence and self-esteem?”
Ingra says she hopes the community will be a part of the realization of her dream. Already, registrations have been pouring in.
“I want to serve my students and the community well,” she concluded. “I want to watch my students grow, develop and improve. At least for me, it’s not about making money. I want to be able to pay my overhead – the rest, for me, is pure enjoyment because I love dancing so much and want to instill that in others.”
Open House and registration for those 12 and over will be held on Sunday, August 30th from 4 to 8 p.m. and on Monday, August 31st (same times) for those 3 to 11 years of age. Classes will begin sometime in mid-September.
Be sure to drop by Ingra & Co. at 318 Pike Street in Shinnston and see for yourself why she is so passionate about her project. You won’t be disappointed!
Pre-registration is also available online by visiting ingrasdancestudio.com … or check out her Facebook page.