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The Cuppett Performing Arts Center in Vienna has entered its 60th year of operation and will celebrate this milestone anniversary throughout the year.
Activities will include ’60 Reasons I Love the Cuppetts’, a social media campaign featuring testimonials from current students and alumni, and an annual recital, ‘Diamonds,’ with period choreography and brand new dances.
The coming year will also see jazz lessons for students from 6 years old (the previous minimum was 10 years old) and a new dance company created for students from 7 to 10 years old.
“We’ve always looked for ways to make a difference and give back to our community, providing free performances throughout the year, and that will continue to be our goal,” said owner Amy Cuppett.
The company began in 1962 at Vienna’s Catholic school, Notre-Dame du Bon Conseil, after Mother Catherine Loyola asked Alzine Straub Cuppett, former Radio City Rockette and dance student of actor and singer Gene Kelly , to give dance lessons to the students of the school.
Cuppett first taught classes at his home on Frederick Street in Vienna, then had a house built on Old Courthouse Road with a custom-designed dance studio in the basement. It was there that she founded the Cuppett School of Dance.
The business flourished, so Cuppett in 1980 secured space at 135 Park St., SE, at the Park Plaza Center in Vienna and incorporated the company as the Cuppett Performing Arts Center.
In addition to four large dance studios, the facility includes offices, locker rooms, waiting rooms and a dancewear store called “Allegra’s Dance Boutique”, named after the founder’s West Highland white terrier.
The company has been run by the family for three generations. Cuppett’s daughter Amy took over her mother’s operations in 1996 and increased the company’s student body from 200 to 600.
“My mother’s impact has been immense and I plan to continue to have my impact, modeled on hers but only mine, for the next 60 years,” said Amy Cuppett.
The dance studio now has 24 teachers and staff. Enrollment was around 800 students before the pandemic, but now stands at about half that figure. Alzine Cuppett died in August 2012 at the age of 85. Her daughter Joyce helps with the company’s accounting and Amy Cuppett’s niece, Ashley Cuppett, helps with marketing efforts.
The company offers courses for dancers aged 3 and over with skill levels ranging from beginner to professional. In addition to Russian (Vaganova) and Italian (Cecchetti) ballet, the company offers tap dance, jazz, modern, character, lyrical / contemporary, hip-hop, acro-dance and musical theater lessons.
Most classes are in person, with everyone on site being masked due to the pandemic, but the company also offers a “virtual” option for students who are in home quarantine.
In addition to improving their physical health, strength, flexibility and coordination, the dance awakens people’s creative side, strengthens discipline and fosters lasting friendships, the dance company members said.