Dance academy splits into two

Longtime co-owners of MPAA each starts her own studio in Peterborough

Pati Cloutier's new studio space for her dance academy, Peterborough Dance Theater, is located in the Guernsey Professional Building in Suite 204, Main St.

Pati Cloutier's new studio space for her dance academy, Peterborough Dance Theater, is located in the Guernsey Professional Building in Suite 204, Main St. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

PETERBOROUGH — After 14 years together as business partners and dance instructors, Pati Cloutier and Christina Ahern have decided to close the doors to the Monadnock Performing Arts Academy and open their own dance studios, both in Peterborough.

The two instructors wanted to take their teaching practices in different directions, Cloutier said in an interview Sept. 17.

Ahern agreed that after working together for 14 years and owning the dance academy together, she and Cloutier decided to go their separate ways.

“Making the decision to dissolve MPAA was scary and exciting at the same time,” Cloutier said. .

The arts academy operated out of a studio space in Depot Square, and taught dancers as young as three and four years old. It even offered a few classes for adults. The two new studios will continue the arts academy’s tradition of presenting year-end performances to the community. Both are expected to be performed at Keene State College in the spring.

Dance classes started at both studios Sept. 16. Cloutier said things are going very well with attendance at her new studio, the Peterborough Dance Theater, which is located at 70 Main St. in suite 204 of the Guernsey Professional Building. “There’s so many windows here, it’s like a breath of fresh air,” Cloutier said about her new place. “I was happy to find a place and start anew. I look forward to coming here.”

Cloutier’s vision for her new studio focuses on the dancer as a whole person. “My philosophy is developing a strong dancer and a strong-minded person,” Cloutier said. “I want my dancers to be confident in their skills and I want to provide a positive and nurturing environment for them to develop. I want to encourage my dancers to find what makes them unique.”

Even though both studios are located in Peterborough, Cloutier said she isn’t worried. “It’s 2013, it’s okay to have competition. We can both fill a niche,” Cloutier said. “I have encouraged students to take classes at both studios. Having different dance teachers is a good thing.”

Cloutier said a lot of her former students, more than she predicted, have decided to continue taking her classes at the new studio.

Cloutier, along with another former dance instructor at the arts academy, Sallie Werst of Merrimack, will together offer classes for tap, jazz, classical ballet, hip-hop, teen adult jazz, creative, contemporary/lyrical and pointe. Cloutier will also offer classes for students who wish to be a part of her dance company, Cloutier and Co., which will present a performance in the spring at the Peterborough Players. Dancers involved with the company will be exposed to guest choreographers who will choreograph dances for the spring performance.

Ahern’s new dance studio, Monadnock Academy of Movement Arts, will operate out of the former arts academy building at 18 Depot Square. Ahern said she and Cloutier did a coin toss to decide who would use the old studio space for their new dance practice. As equal owners and partners of the former arts academy, Ahern and Cloutier agreed that a coin toss was the fairest way to decide who would continue there.

Ahern said she has the same vision for her work as before: To encourage individuals of all ages and levels of dance to try out a dance class. Beginning Sept. 16, the new arts academy opened its doors to the public, offering classes free of charge; the free classes will continue through Sept. 27. So far, Ahern said the enrollment is going very well this first week .

The new focus for Ahern’s studio is to have fun and explore movement. “We want to create a place in the community where dancers can experience the joy of movement, develop friendships, and to guide dancers who wish to progress to the professional level,” Ahern said.

Last week, she noticed a lot of new little kids coming to the studio, but also a lot of dancers who danced at the former arts academy and for the academy’s performing company. Ahern said she will continue to offer company classes at the new studio on weekends, and the group will present a company show, March 21 and 22, at the Peterborough Players, as in previous years.

Besides acting as Movement Arts’s director , Ahern will teach ballet and pointe classes, with the help of several former arts academy teachers, including Jess Codman, of Hancock, Joyce Balwin of Fitzwilliam, Angela Brening of Peterborough, Riley Ahern of Dublin — Ahern’s daughter who is a Keene State College graduate — and a former dance student and University of New Hampshire graduate, Amanda Pierce of Bennington.

Lindsey Arceci can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 232, or

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