Stephanie Harper, 23, who owns a dance studio in Bellingham, let me know about an open house she's hosting at the studio's new location on Saturday, April 5.
She has an unusual story of how she decided to open a dance studio. Here's what she says:
"When people hear of Harper&I, they often ask why I chose such a strange name for a business. After I explain, they realize that everything about the business is actually right there in the name.
"It is not just about me and dance; it is about my students and their families. Harper&I would not be possible without them and their support. It is about bringing a positive, challenging and encouraging experience to every dance class and providing mentorship and leadership for students of all ages.
"I had a very rough childhood growing up, and my dance studio was the only place I ever felt safe. Dancing was the only time I felt happy and free. It was the only place I felt like I fit in. As I grew older and began teaching, I slowly began discovering who I was as an individual and as an artist.
"I once dreamed of dancing professionally, but soon realized that teaching was my true passion. Students began coming to me for advice and guidance and I grew more and more confident in my ability to help guide them and others in positive ways.
"I put myself through college with a lot of hard work (at one point I had five jobs) and graduated with a bachelor's degree in dance and, with the insistence of several students and their families, decided to begin Harper&I on my birthday that year!
"Harper&I began less than two years ago when I was a senior at Western Washington University. I started with about five students, and a year and a half later now have over 75. The craziest part of this huge increase in numbers is that not only do we have a wide range of 2-year-olds through adults, but 75 percent of our dancers have never danced before they joined Harper&I.
"Inside and outside of the studio, my philosophy is that every single child deserves to be equally encouraged and challenged in our classes and to thrive in an inspiring atmosphere. I'm not sure how I got to be so lucky as to have such an amazing following, such outstanding instructors and such a supportive community, but as a result I am working harder than ever to do my best for all of my past, current and future students.
"My next goal is to create a curriculum for individuals with developmental disabilities in our community and opening these specially designed classes for all ages. Accomplishing this would be a dream come true for me!
"Most importantly, I want my studio to be a safe haven and home for all of my students. Anyone who walks through our doors can feel reassured that Harper&I is a place where you can discover and find yourself amongst friends.
"Harper&I isn't your average dance studio; we strive to reach out to the community in various ways, and I am so proud of how much we have done in just under two years and am looking forward to embarking on many more projects."
CHAMBER MUSIC CONCERT AT OLD CITY HALL
Violinist and violist Leslie Johnson, who, with bassoonist Pat Nelson, formed Bellingham Chamber Music Society last year, is excited about their concert Friday, April 4, at Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall building, in the Rotunda Room.
The group plays the standard repertoire of the string and woodwind literature as well as little-known and new pieces that feature piano, harp and voice.
The women stress that classical chamber music is for everyone, regardless of music listening background. They hope to "enchant new and veteran classical music audiences with chamber music," according to their website.
The group's members, many of whom live in Bellingham, have won regional and national acclaim for their live and recorded performances.
In addition to Johnson and Nelson, other musicians who perform with the group include double bass player Thom Mayes, flutist Lisa McCarthy, pianists Carlin Ma, Milica Jelaca Jovanovic, Dan Sabo and Annie Scherr, mezzo-soprano Kathryn Weld, harpist Jill Whitman, violinists Kim Zabelle and Matthew Olson, and oboist Jennifer Weeks.
Reach Margaret Bikman at 360-715-2273 or email@example.com.