With five studios, which together measure 6,000 square feet, Annex Dance Academy is co-owned and directed by Cheryl Wallace and Sarah Dempsey who opened their doors in Oakville in 2006. They have welcomed and continue to welcome hundreds of children ages 3- 17.
“First of all, kids like to move,” exclaims Cheryl. “Its an innate trait in humans. We’re providing that opportunity for children to do it while refining their skills.” Sarah adds, “they get coordinated, define their motor skills, and they will be successful in whatever they are doing because it’s what they love and enjoy.”
“Dance is a great way for kids to express themselves,” Cheryl continues. “Whether they realize it or not, they learn how their body works, how to be healthy, flexible and strong. Children build life long friendships with their dance friends, and we watch these kids evolve over the years into successful and driven young adults.”
Annex offers everything in classical world of dance, including jazz, tap, ballet, musical theatre, acrobatics and more. Their open program schedule is set up to allow students to try different disciples. “We encourage them to try new classes, and they can organize all their classes in one day,” Cheryl explains.
“What really makes our studio unique is how we employ a lot of dance teachers,” Sarah adds. “We find the best teacher for each discipline. While many other studios have teachers that teach all kinds of dance, we have a faculty for each and the best of the best teachers who are passionate about their discipline.” To read bios on all their staff, click here.
Annex offers competitive and open programs. Their open dance classes are recreational and welcome everyone. Although they do not compete, they are taught the same material as students on the competitive level. The award wining competitive teams grows more every year. Their competitions take them out at least 4 times annually, sometimes down to the USA. Sarah explains that, “some students rehearse up to 25 hours a week, others only have time for 1 or 2 disciplines, but all our students are valued equally.” Cheryl adds, “parents appreciate knowing that their child is valued for whatever they bring to the team. You can’t be a mentor unless you have a lot of self worth.”
Parents can monitor their children’s progress during each class, as there is a camera hooked up in the studio feeding to a TV in the lounge. They can also stay involved with the Annex App, where members can get information on the studio, post pictures, make announcements and more. “We wanted to make something helpful for parents and students, so we added “find your car”, a tip calculator and things like that,” explains Cheryl.
The year-end recital combines the open and competitive teams in a celebration and performance of their skills. Children also have the opportunity preform for charity functions, for organizations like the Canadian Cancer Society and Children’s Foundations. They have also performed at half time shows for the Raptors and Argonauts, and danced through the Santa Clause Parade.
Annie is the Annex Studio mascot. Sarah explains how they, “wanted a face of the studio, and a loveable character. There’s an abundance of people all the time, the one commonality to tie it all together is our dancing hippo friend!” Annie visits the children and helps them learn. She also shows up at recital and other special events for presentations. “A lot of the kids have an Annie doll,” Cheryl adds. “They post photos with Annie and we share it on social media, the kids love it!”
If you are interested in joining the Annex Dance Team then try out one of their summer programs. Sign up for a week of dance, crafts, games & activities. The camp runs from 9-4 daily with before and after care is available. Campers will work on a play all week and present it to the parents on the last day of camp. The children are responsible for set designs, acting, singing, dancing, costume designs and script writing. The camp also explores different themes, such as Olympics, talent shows, MTV awards and more. Click here to register.
Annex Dance Academy is located at 2861, Unit 39 Sherwood Heights Drive in Oakville, ON. For more information call 905-829-1610.
Written by Emily Johnson