Dance Studio owner has embraced arts and music
Photos by Tom Rivers – Amy Sidari has given her dance studio a dual purpose as the cabaret with live entertainment and desserts.
ALBION – Life-long Albion resident Amy Sidari opened her own dance studio in 1997 at the corner of West Bank and Liberty streets. She and her dance instructors work with hundreds of children (and some adults) each year.
Sidari, 46, expanded the scope of Gotta Dance last July, opening the Cabaret at Studio B. More than 20 different acts have been in Studio B in the past 12 months and Sidari will debut a variety show this Saturday. (The site at 28 West Bank St. has professional sound and lighting.)
Sidari will be one of the performers, along with high school music teacher Gary Simboli and Gloria Lear, one of Sidari’s dance instructors. Marcy Downey will join the variety show in the beginning and other community members will perform with the group in later dates.
Marcy Downey, left, and Amy Sidari pose in front of the curtains at the Cabaret at Studio B in this photo from a year ago, when Downey was the debut act in the Cabaret. They will be part of a new variety show starting this Saturday at the Cabaret.
The Cabaret Variety Show will be a throwback to the variety shows of the Dean Martin and Lucille Ball era. Sidari wants to bring humor and showcase local performers in the new show.
She talked with Orleans Hub editor Tom Rivers on Thursday about the latest venture and career with Gotta Dance.
Q: I remember when you started here. It was the former DA’s office.
A: We just had the one room. There wasn’t even a waiting room. Blessings to my dad (Ace Caldwell) for all of his craftsmanship. I tell him I’m the creator and you’re the builder so let’s do it, and we do it.
Q: Why is this fun for you, working with all of these kids and some adults?
A: I think it is what God wants me to do. I just think my gift is loving people. I love them through any way that I can and music seems to be the easiest way to love people.
Q: It seems like there are a lot of dance options with several studios. I wonder why it’s so popular because when I was a kid I don’t think we had any dance places.
A: It was a different time when we were kids. I think it’s because we have good teachers. No matter where you are dancing kids are being more inspired to take on the performing arts.
I think our school programs with the dynamic music and drama inspires the children as well. When they come to me they already understand music. There is sense that this is a passion for them. I think it’s a credit to all of the studios. Everybody is doing a good job.
Some of the Gotta Dance students perfomed on Main Street during the Strawberry Festival Parade on June 14.
Q: What is the benefit for a kid to do this?
A: There are a lot of benefits. When they’re in that awkward age, their puberty time, it doesn’t appear when you’re a dancer. There is a sense of grace, centering, elegance that comes through.
I would say that mathematically, the right side of the brain, it’s been proven it’s a little more engaged. There is memorization, patterns, muscle memory. There is a fluency and things become more natural to put yourself and your mind into the sequence.
These kids are sharp. When they’re coming in they’re not just doing dance. They have other clubs and other activities. They might come in and go through four different dances flawlessly. Their minds are working.
You know what if they’re here with me they’re safe. They’re not doing things that aren’t good for their body or good for them. The environment is only a positive, acceptable environment. They learn a lot of respect for each other and how to work through relationships here that maybe are uncomfortable because we all have to work together.
Q: I know you have the dance studio, but you also started the Nicholas Kovaleski Hometown Christmas.
A: That’s been four years. That was really God.
Q: You’ve added more besides the dance studio. You added the Hometown Christmas and then the Cabaret last year. The Cabaret seems to be working, don’t you think so?
A: There is a need. When I see people walk through my door for the first time, and the puzzled look on their face, and then they walk through this door. You watch their face and there is a sense, ‘Wow, this is Albion?’ You watch them leave and they have tears in their eyes because they are so happy they came. It’s a good, good feeling.
Q: You took a leap trying the Cabaret?
A: I wanted something more in my life. It was very peaceful once I decided to do it.
Seamus Kenney, a 1993 Albion graduate, returned home for the Christmas holiday and also put on a concert in December at the Cabaret. Kenney, a professional musician, lives in Durham, North Carolina. For a decade he traveled and performed with the band SNMNMNM.
Q: Can you talk about the new variety show?
A: Gary (Simboli) will open with an original jingle that he did lyrics and orchestration for. Gloria (Lear) is kind of like the Ed McMahon on the Tonight Show to me. She is there to help my transitions run smoothly. Gloria is really funny. The three of us with Gary included have a really good chemistry. We’ll do a little comedy, the three of us, with what’s going on in real life.
We have skits involving the community. I’ve got a hilarious skit that Gary can hardly play the music through because he gets too hysterical. That’s with Jill Albertson, Mary Dunham, Sandra Monacelli McNall, Danny Monacelli, June Schuck and David Sidari.
Later on in the evening Jim Babcock comes out, but you won’t recognize him. He closes my show.
We have a special guest appearance with Marcy Downey, and it’s something that’s on her bucket list. She’s always wanted to do a dance with me, and I’ve always wanted to sing with her. We’re doing a little trade-off and it’s pretty funny.
We’ll have comedy skits with Kyle and Gina (Sidari’s children). I told Mr. Simboli don’t be shy this time and hide behind the piano when you sing your solo. It’s center stage, spotlight on Gary and I want to hear something deep from your soul.
The Reverend Mother kept a crowd in stitches last August at the Cabaret at Studio B. Phyl Contestable is the comedian. She passed out buttons that said, “JESUS LOVES YOU, but I’m his favorite.”
There will be audience participation. If you’re in the audience you don’t know what your job may be. You may be on that stage helping me do something pretty funny. It will be good and I’ll try to feel them out ahead of time so I don’t traumatize them.
We’re going to go back to old-fashioned live commercials and Brown’s Berry Patch is my first business. We’re going to interview each business that presents with us and to see what’s new in their business.
We have a ventriloquist act, a special visitor or a character from the Laugh-In Show. We’ll share some family secrets and take questions from the audience.
A: All in 1 hour, 15 minutes.
Q: It will be a brisk pace, but with enough time to laugh until you can’t control yourself. I want my audience, my community actively engaged in it. I want them to send me videos of their talents. I want to pull in people with different acts and varieties.
My future plan is I would like this to go all year. I feel more than anything it’s time to have a joy in laughter.
(Reservations are required and may be obtained by calling Ticket Team 585-354-2320.)