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Ballet studio takes a leap

It took just 24 hours for Jonna Maule’s vision of her business, Company Ballet School, to change dramatically.

“I drove by here (the school) the night before New Year’s Eve and there was a ‘For Lease’ sign in the window,” Maule said about the space adjacent to her business. “I got home and called the landlord. She met me here the next day.”

Before the end of New Year’s Eve, she signed an agreement to expand her business and was making plans to renovate her new space.

“I just had to do it,” Maule said about the quick decision to expand. “If you don’t take advantage of what could be, you’ll regret. You just have to go for it and pray a lot.”

With $1,000 in her pocket, Maule was determined to make it work. She sent out an email to all the families involved in the school to enlist support.

“Everybody who was able to be on board was,” Maule said. “I feel so grateful because I have enormous support.”

With the help of many volunteers, Maule’s quick decision has led to an almost completed expansion of her dance studio. The remodeled space has been given the name Company ‘B,’ and is on track to open to the public in mid-February. In the new studio, Maule intends to offer classes for both adults and children.

The renovation began Jan. 12. More than 20 volunteers worked in crews to dismantle the business that previously occupied the location.

“Everybody came ready to work,” said parent volunteer Audrey Bramel, who spent the day vacuuming. “Everyone had their job, working together to make this happen for Jonna.”

Crews of volunteers tore down walls, pulled nails, stacked wood from the demolition to be reused later, and removed debris.

“We needed to do it as inexpensive as we can,” Eric Bramel said. “We have a very limited budget. We re-used whatever board or pieces we could.”

Bramel, along with two other parent volunteers, are leading the main renovation, with other parents volunteering their time when they can.

“Fathers come in after dropping their daughters off for class and ask “you’ve got me for two hours, what can I do?’ Bramel said. “It speaks volumes about the people and their loyalty to Jonna. Nobody is expecting anything for this.”

The men are spending two nights a week and every weekend working on the project. They hope to complete the renovation in time to open this month.

As it is a historic building, the volunteers were careful to respect the Millwood Historical Society’s guidelines, by removing plywood boards on interior and exterior transom windows.

“They were in incredible shape,” Bramel said. “It lets natural light flow into the building.”

While volunteers are preparing Company ‘B’ for its opening, other parent volunteers are sewing costumes and building sets for the June production of “Alice in Wonderland.”

“All the costumes are handmade,” said Audrey Bramel, who is sewing five costumes, as well as assisting with others. “Jonna presents an idea, what she wants the costumes to look like. We make it happen.”

Volunteers are also organizing a March 16 open house/fundraising event to raise money for Company ‘B’s dance floor and costumes for the upcoming production.

“Almost every parent is working on something,” Maule said. “There is so much people do to make this place run.”

Maule first opened her doors in 2004, after teaching ballet in a garage and a storage unit.

“I went through a lot getting this part going,” Maule said. “It’s a little scary doing it again.”

“Bit by bit, piece by piece” she created the current dance studio without incurring any debt.

“This school goes beyond ballet class, it really does,” Maule said. “I want those kids to see what you can do when you put your mind to it. I’m teaching ballet, but also perseverance and dedication.”