From the outside, The Galaxy of Dance studio in Robbinsville looks like a church. But inside, however, visitors will find two large, brightly painted dance studios separated by a retractable wall.
The office walls are covered in photographs of dancers at past competitions and events, and inspirational messages wind their way across the walls.
Studio director Kelly Gorner spends a lot of time inside this studio, managing the business as well as teaching dance classes.
Gorner started The Galaxy of Dance 18 years ago after growing up as a dancer herself. After competing in jazz and tap competitions, she taught dance classes at several studios before deciding to open up her own.
The Galaxy of Dance opened in East Windsor in 1994 and moved to West Windsor in 2006. The studio relocated to Robbinsville in September.
The Galaxy of Dance offers a variety of dance classes, including jazz, lyrical, hip hop, tap, ballet, acro and- a recent addition – adult yoga.
The most popular class at The Galaxy of Dance is jazz, Gorner said, because of its components that appeal to the younger dancers.
“It’s to the music that the kids hear on the radio, plus it has more technical elements like turns and leaps, which the dancers like,” she said.
Students as young as 3 and 4 years old can take the introduction to dance class where they learn a little bit of everything, play games and play with parachutes.
Five-and six-year-olds can take combo classes with tap, ballet, and jazz.
More experienced dancers take classes with one of the five instructors, including two who have performed on Broadway.
Gorner said she wanted to make her studio a positive environment for dancers.
“Everyone has fun here, we are not a very quiet school,” she said. “It’s more like a family, we laugh and have a good time,” she said.
To promote a closer knit group of dancers, the studio puts together bonding activities, such as community performances and Halloween parties. Most recently, the dancers had a lock down sleepover with tie dye, holiday ornament decorating and of course, dancing.
Next year, the studio will host a breakfast with Santa event where people can take pictures with Santa and play games.
With four competitions a year and occasional community performances, the dancers are kept busy. Recently, they performed at the Philadelphia Thanksgiving day parade, at a dance expo on the boardwalk in Wildwood, and two years ago they performed in Disney World.
Gorner believes that dancing in front of an audience is positive experience for dancers.
“Dancing gets them involved in their community and lets them show off what they’ve worked hard on to their family and friends,” she said. “It also helps with their self-esteem and confidence as they get more comfortable getting up in front of people.”
Gorner’s dancers have gone on to continue dancing after leaving her studio. She has had dancers on the Rutgers dance team and the dance teams for NBA squads like the New Jersey Nets and New York Knicks.
Watching her students grow and learn has been one of Gorner’s favorite parts about running a dance studio.
“I love just watching the success of my students and seeing their faces as they learn and progress,” she said. “They always want to keep learning, a lot of times they don’t even want to leave the studio.”
For those thinking about beginning a dance class, Gorner encourages them to come in and try it.
“There’s always a place for everybody,” she said. “The kids are very welcoming and it’s a very family-friendly atmosphere.”
The studio space can be rented out for events and parties as well, and Gorner helps with catering and preparation.
The studio is still accepting registration for classes and has summer camps and classes available. The Galaxy of Dance is located at 1141 Route 130 North in Robbinsville. For more information, go to galaxyofdance.webs.com or call (609) 259-2700.