Company name: Alegria Performing Arts Academy
Type of business: Dance and performing arts studio
Location: 320 E. Main St. in Turlock
Hours: Private lessons and weekly dance lessons
Contact information: 925-980-5683
Specialty: Safe and social distance dance classes
Turlock town center has seen several long-time tenants leave its core over the past year, but their departures come with new starts for other local businesses, including one that aims to spruce up Main Street .
The Alegria Performing Arts Academy will open a new downtown dance studio inside the former location of Dean’s Floral in the coming weeks, owner Gabrielle Forrest said. Alegria, which means “happiness” in Portuguese, opened in 2014 and has been offering dance classes in the Scandia Village shopping center since 2017.
While some may think staying put during a global pandemic would be the safest route to running a business, Forrest decided to take a chance when she saw a vacant space in downtown Turlock.
“In this pandemic, you have to do something to keep moving forward. We have grown as much as we could grow in where we are now, especially with current events… It was great to be part of the downtown community and we didn’t want to move away from it” , Forrest said. . “It was important to me, in taking such a step, that we were in a visible and central place and when this opportunity presented itself, I just felt it was time to take a leap of faith. is really what it all boils down to.
The new space will provide Forrest and his students with more space than Alegria’s previous location, making it easier to host social distancing workouts. Since receiving the green light from the city to open in June, Forrest has stepped up sanitation measures and enforced COVID-friendly rules with social distancing stickers on the ballroom floor.
Although the pandemic has made his job more difficult, it has also provided funding opportunities that have made this new move possible. Alegria was one of 165 businesses selected by the town of Turlock to receive aid under the Small Business Relief Grant program, which ended up being just enough for the down payment on the studio’s new location.
“It seemed like a good time to move on because hopefully COVID won’t be around forever. And, because of COVID, some opportunities came up that wouldn’t have come up otherwise,” Forrest said. “Spaces on Main Street don’t show up very often…It worked perfectly and was the perfect amount to get my foot in the door.”
Forrest hopes the space’s proximity to other popular downtown destinations will not only provide new experiences for his current students, but also for those who have never attended classes. She imagines parents dropping off their kids for practice, grabbing a cup of coffee at the nearby La Mo cafe, and watching their little ones dance through the large front windows of the space. She’s also considering a new date option for couples, who can attend a dance class and then dine at one of the nearby restaurants.
When the pandemic dies down, Forrest also plans to use the new location as a venue for pop-up shops, bridal showers and more. There are still a few improvements to be made to the space, which is part of the 100-year-old Masonic building, but Forrest expects the new studio to open in late February at the earliest. In addition to dance lessons, the studio offers gymnastics and tumbling lessons with more performance options along the way.
For other business owners considering a change in these uncertain times, she offered some advice.
“I took the leap whenever I had the chance with my business. It’s been a tough journey, and as a business owner you just have to be willing to push yourself to the next level in order to see what you’re capable of,” Forrest said. “We are taking a leap of faith that we will be able to continue to give back to our community and that our community will give back to us. If you’re just in business to make money, it won’t work. You must be community oriented in some way and have a service attitude. »