By Hannah Lutz
At the corner of Lunt and Glenwood sits Rogers Park’s Northside Dance Theater. Its mission to offer a welcoming, well-run environment for Chicago dancers has become ever present in the Rogers Park area.
Northside Dance Theater’s staff believes in instruction that is both age appropriate and level appropriate. The company caters to both introductory novices and trained experts, combining challenge with comfort.
The studio's classes act as the weekly pleasure for most of its students. It gives them something to look forward to during a hectic school or work week, but even more so, it gives them an opportunity to engage in an artistic outlet.
Rogers Park contributes to this artistic aspect as the theater resides in the Glenwood Arts District. “We looked at a lot of different areas… Rogers Park has a very strong arts district. There’s a tremendous number of artists and dancers who actually live in this area,” says Jenn Gage owner of Northside Dance Theater.
Owners Jenn Gage and Steve House opened Northside Dance Theater two years ago. Gage and House thought Rogers Park could thrive on the foundation of a dance studio. At the time, the closest studios were as far as West Ridge and West Rogers Park.
House was one of Gage’s first ballroom students at her Alliance Dance Company, and continued to take Gage’s dance classes for the next three years. House was a software developer, but he was eager to start his own business. Gage wanted change in her business as well. “I really, really missed being able to envelop what my style is, which is really jazz and ballet. And, I really missed getting to teach it more,” Gage says.
Gage was also struggling with local studios’ tendencies to double-book reservations. A problem that seemed easily solvable was prohibiting Gage and her students from getting fair and adequate practice time. Gage wanted a well-managed studio. She and House decided they could be a good team for opening a dance studio. They wanted a heavy emphasis on the studio being well-run, which is where House’s business skills come into play, while also maintaining a strong focus on the artistry and skill of dance, Gage’s contribution.
“I thought, ‘This is fun. Why not do a business in dance, because then I could dance, too,’” House said.
At the dance theater, instructors tailor their classes to suit every potential dance student. Their youngest student dances at one and a half years old, while their oldest dances at 76 years old. As their studio has grown, Gage and House have successfully achieved their goal and more. The duo has maintained their focus on comfort and organization, and their success and warmth is reflected in the attitudes of their students.
“It’s fun with the kids. I mean, you can see their smiles in there. They have a great time. And, the adults as well; it’s just fun to see them come in and enjoy dance, and just have a really, really good time,” House says.
Northside Dance Theater continues to add new classes and new students. Look for their Groupon Now offers and their family and student discounts to save on classes.
I had the chance to spend a few days at Northside Dance Theater. Check out my video to get an inside look at the studios classes and a recap of Gage and House’s story and mission.