When the rooms of The Sutton Studio for the Performing Arts aren’t resonating with piano chords, dance music, monologues, or melodies, they’re filled with insightful declamations from the highly experienced staff. Artistic director Jamie Lynn Gilliam leads the talented troupe, bringing more than 25 years of musical-theater experience that include dancing in professional productions and convincing Robert De Niro’s family that she was Robert De Niro. Her lieutenants include Kathy Todd Chaney, formerly of Kathy Todd Dance Studio, and several of the studio’s graduates, who teach tap, jazz, ballet, and hip-hop steps. Piano instructor Lynnette Jones has been playing piano for 27 years and acting teacher Josh Gilliam has performed in several professional productions since he graduated from Otterbein University’s musical-theater program. All this expertise fills The Sutton Studio’s two locations and unfolds during an array of classes, performances, and even private birthday parties.
The Kentucky Ballet Theatre was founded in 1998 to give Lexington audiences their own local company of ballet dancers. The performances that have followed have included classics such as Prokofiev's Cinderella and new works such as Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera. The dancers host their shows at the Lexington Opera House, a historical landmark which was built in 1887, was converted into a movie theater in the 1920s, and did a brief stint as a Rockette before returning to its classical roots in 1976.
Having passed on their rug-cutting inclinations to local celebrities such as basketball coach Denny Crum, the sure-footed staff at Shall We Dance? continues to unleash an arsenal of graceful moves inside their two studios. Students of all skill levels step in time with the school's curriculum of Latin, nightclub, and American dance styles during private or group lessons, using their feet like metal detectors to scan the floor for long-lost grooves. Stately triple beats whirl waltzers across the floor, steamy struts abound in tango lessons, and fox-trot instructors bring students to their knees in classical hunting poses and many more dance styles. Neophytes can then show off their new steps during practice parties with whimsical themes.
A former University of Kentucky Dance Cat with more than 20 years of teaching experience, Traci Stone works to expand the dance community through recreational and competitive adult and youth classes. Whether putting together a fun routine or just allowing wee ones to wiggle out a chronic case of sillies, Traci’s team targets children’s imaginations with colorful costumes and annual performance exhibitions. For those who’ve long since traded their baby teeth for an investment portfolio, adult classes explore the basic techniques of ballet, tap, and belly dancing. Pointed toes and swaying stomachs take to the hardwood floor as natural light spills across Artistry in Motion's expansive studio, making bare and tap-clad feet dance more happily.