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Performing Arts Dance Center enters 25th year

LAPLACE — Now entering its 25th year, Performing Arts Dance Center in LaPlace is welcoming its next generation of dancers. What hasn’t changed over the past two decades is the studio’s family-friendly atmosphere and dedication to excellence.

The dance studio was established in 1997. Since then, talented younger siblings, cousins and even daughters of the original PADC dancers have become part of the family.

Performing Arts Dance Center recently received the 2020-2021 Studio of Excellence Award from the Association of Dance Competitions and Conventions. This honor is reserved for studios that exemplify kindness and teamwork while striving for high-quality performances.

Studio owner Traci Marchetta has been part of the dance world since she was 2 ½ years old. After growing up on the dance floor and spending eight years as a New Orleans Saintsation, she knew performing arts would always be a part of her life.

After meeting her husband and moving to St. John Parish in 1995, Marchetta began contacting local dance studios in hopes of beginning the next chapter of her life. She taught at Dance Etc. in Reserve for two years before the perfect opportunity arose to open her own dance studio.

There was vacant space inside a building on Carrollwood, and the owner intended for it to become a dance studio. Marchetta took a leap of faith and opened the studio in 1997.

“I love dance. I’ve loved it my whole life, and I feel like I want to share that gift of being able to freely express yourself with other kids. It’s given me a lot of confidence and helped me to not be so shy. It can give kids a lifetime of memories and friendships,” Marchetta said.

Performing Arts Dance Center saw gradual growth throughout the years. Classes including ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical and acrobatics/gymnastics have been offered since the beginning. Over time, hip-hop, classical ballet, pointe, musical theater and cheer classes were incorporated to meet the needs of the community and keep PADC competitive in the dance world.

The studio has taken home countless awards over the years and has traveled to national showcases around the region. PADC teams have competed in San Antonio and Biloxi, and they’ve performed for the masses everywhere from cruise ships to Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World.

The studio also has a strong local presence. The dancers have delivered high energy performances at the Andouille Festival in LaPlace, and they were a fixture in local Mardi Gras parades for more than 20 years.

The current location at 101 Fairway Drive in LaPlace opened to the public in 2007 after seeing delays from reconstruction efforts following Hurricane Katrina. PADC has two large dance rooms, both with high spring floating oak dance floors topped with marley. These floors offer dancers a superior shock absorption for leaps, jumps and acrobatic tricks, thereby reducing the risk of injury. The waiting room has two large viewing windows for parents to watch their children grow into talented dancers.

All students at PADC learn dance terminology. This background knowledge not only helps them learn choreography faster, but also allows them to communicate more efficiently in the dance community. All songs and choreography are age appropriate, with offensive or suggestive lyrics edited out.

The dance journey can begin when a child is as young as 2 years old and last through high school, but it doesn’t have to end after graduation. Performing Arts Dance Center offers a Teacher Graduate course for tap, jazz, ballet and acro. Students in their senior year complete homework assignments ranging from written notes to choreography and execution. After passing a written and oral exam, graduates often join the PADC faculty.

Teachers and assistants strive to give students individual attention in the classroom setting. The babies and preschool teachers spend just as much time on their knees as they do standing. According to Marchetta, individual attention is crucial at this age as young children learn proper heel and toe placement, shuffles and acrobatic tricks that will serve as the foundation for their dance career.

Ashlee Brister is one of the instructors at PADC, and she has been teaching dance for more than 20 years.

“We are a more family-based business and have a true care for the kids. I have a true love and passion for dance, and I truly care about the students I teach and want them to succeed,” Brister said.

Registration forms can be obtained by contacting Performing Arts Dance Center through Facebook Messenger, emailing peradc@yahoo.com or by calling 985-652-8600.

Classes run September to May, and the registration cost is $55 per child. Payments may be submitted via Venmo @Traci-Marchetta. Completed registration forms and payment may also be dropped off in the mailbox outside the front door of the studio at 101 Fairway Drive in LaPlace.

Classes currently offered include:  Combination Class (Tap & Jazz- Ages 5 & Up / Tap & Ballet – ages 2-5), Hip Hop Class (ages 5 & Up), Lyrical (ages 5 & Up), Acro/Gym (ages 3 and Up), Classical Ballet (ages 5 & Up), Pointe (ages 10 & Up), Musical Theatre/Voice (ages 5 & Up) and Cheer (ages 5 & Up).