CLARENCE CENTER, N.Y. (WKBW) — As the pandemic forced countless Western New York businesses to close, one in Clarence Center along Goodrich Road opened.
“It’s a little piece of hope,” said Lindsay Mangione. She is the owner and director of Relevé Dance Company. The lifelong dancer borrowed part of her studio’s name from the meaning of the French word “relevé.”
“That we will rise. No matter what you go through, we will rise,” said Mangione.
The dream of building a dance company started for Mangione last October.
“I didn’t know we were going to be in the middle of the pandemic, but my heart said don’t stop, keep going, so I just listened to what my heart said,” said Mangione.
Blood, sweat and tears: the Mangione family and friends gutted the old gym and turned the space into a three studio dance company.
“Pretty much the world shut down and we got to work,” said Mangione with a smile.
After several months of renovations, Mangione and her staff welcomed dancers for the first time at the end of July.
“It’s very personalized. It’s family built,” said tap teacher Emily Thomas.
Ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, fitness and adult classes — just to name a few — are on the schedule at Relevé.
“It feels like a second home to come here after a hard day at school,” said student Sarah Pollard. She started at Relevé Dance Company alongside her sister, Cailee, since it opened.
“You walk through the door and you get that warm family feeling and it’s just, it’s nice to see the girls come home with smiles on their faces,” said Sarah’s and Cailee’s mom, Carol Pollard.
Mangione said Relevé Dance Company is more than just a spot at the barre.
"I was sick as a child and at one point we didn't think we'd dance again and I knew that I would in some capacity," said Mangione. She continued,"But all these kids that just think that they can't do it for whatever reason. You absolutely can and we will make sure you'll get dance."
Mangione's past experiences with the dance world and her illness growing up are two of the reasons why she started a “Little Sisters-Big Sisters” program so "everyone has a someone."
“I just have a message. I want to reach the kids. I want them to know they can be and do anything they want to do and don’t stop because someone says you can’t do it or you shouldn’t do it,” said Mangione.
The studio is also offering a dance scholarship for a family in need. Registration continues for fall classes starting next month.