BY JOE MARVILLI
For nearly half a century, Robert Mann Dance Centre has been teaching techniques and showing steps to students of all ages.
Founded in 1965 by Robert Mann, the Bayside studio takes the art of dance very seriously, stressing the importance of high-quality dance education in a way that gives the student the best experience possible. Their efforts have paid off, as hundreds of the program’s graduates have won awards and scholarships to the top dance schools in the City.
Mann put together the dance studio for one simple reason; he wanted to teach and share his passion with others who wanted to learn.
“I just wanted to share my knowledge of dance and my love of dance with students in the area,” he said.
Since it started, the center has ballooned to the point where it now has more than 400 students, taught by seven faculty members selected by Mann himself.
The studio covers nearly every style of dance under the sun, with graded classes from beginner to professional levels for children and adults in aerobatics modern, ballet, ballroom, jazz, lyrical/contemporary, pointe, stretch, tap, theatre dance and Zumba.
A lot of effort is put into making sure students are in the right class. The classes are divided first by technical proficiency, second by performance quality and then by age.
“A lot of the schools that we’ve been associated with or received students from, they’re put in no age category, no ability category. They’re just lumped together because that’s the class they fit into,” Mann said. “That’s not the way to teach. We grade them by age and ability.”
The classes are structured with time for warm-ups, center floor work, traveling movements, combinations, routines and cool-downs.
At the end of the season, there is a dance recital where the students get the chance to show off what they have learned over the last few months. This year’s recital will take place on May 24, with shows at 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.
All of this work pays off in the end for those students who are looking to take their dance education further. Graduates of the program have been accepted into LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts, Frank Sinatra High School of Performing Arts, Queens College and the Julliard School.
Students of the Dance Centre also have the chance to join the Robert Mann Dance Company, if they meet the requirements. Students must be enrolled in a minimum of three classes per week, with one of them being ballet. They must be in a level 3 class or higher in each subject, must have attended the dance intensive and must attend all classes, rehearsals, competitions and events.
“It enhances those who are serious about their dance training,” Mann said. “It gives them performance opportunities.”
Having been in the community for 49 years, Mann said that Bayside and the studio have been a good fit for each other.
“I have many third-generation [students] in the school right now. Not only were the parents satisfied, their grandparents were satisfied,” he said. “Bayside has been very supportive of the arts.”
The Robert Mann Dance Centre is located at 214-10 41st Ave., Bayside. For more information about its classes, call (718) 225-3696.
Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Joey788.