Coastal Dance and Music Academy moves to bigger facility in Grover Beach

jhickey@thetribunenews.comJuly 11, 2012 

In 2005, Kathy Schultz started teaching dance lessons to eight students in her Shell Beach garage. Now her business, more recently in Arroyo Grande, has grown to more than 300 students and expanded into a 7,600-square-foot facility in Grover Beach.

Coastal Dance and Music Academy, now owned by Schultz and her daughter, Tara Behnke, features five group studios and three private lesson rooms at 1030 Huston St., Suite C, in Grover Beach.

The pair invested $200,000 in the new location, Schultz said.

Though she declined to disclose annual revenue, Schultz said that the school has been consistently profitable, growing exponentially despite moving out of their three-car garage to a second, 3,000-square-foot location in Arroyo Grande in 2008, just before the economy slowed. Behnke joined as a partner in 2008.

“Parents don’t want children to not have art in their lives,” Schultz said, about how the school has flourished while arts instruction is being cut from public school offerings.

Coastal Dance and Music Academy now has 29 part-time faculty and staff members, and has expanded offerings ranging from dance to music, voice and theater.

Schultz said she started the school to create a supportive, noncompetitive atmosphere for students to dance. She has a master’s degree in education, and Behnke has a bachelor’s degree in child development, and both have taught at the Academy of Dance in San Luis Obispo.

The school, which offers programs for children and adults, funds a scholarship program and work-study opportunities.

The school’s theater program is led by artistic director Natalia Berryman, and its music director is Claudia Bessette.

It is home of the nonprofit group Coastal Chamber Youth Ballet Company, also founded by Schultz and Behnke, with artistic director Molly McKiernan.

Coastal Chamber Youth Ballet’s annual ballet production, Babes in Toyland, and Coastal Dance and Music Academy’s annual recital are both held at the Clark Center for the Performing Arts in Arroyo Grande.

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