P.O.C.E. Dance & Art Institute to open Nov. 16

By Lauren Kirchmyer

Charlotte Cardwell’s dream of owning her own dance studio formed when she was just a little girl. As time passed and her creative side grew, she realized she wanted to create something more in depth.

Cardwell’s dance background is very expansive. Besides training at various dance studios around Western New York, she was a dance major at the Buffalo Academy for the Visual and Performing Arts as well as Buffalo State College. Upon graduating, Cardwell had the opportunity to assist with multiple shows and dance productions, including a recent opportunity this past Jue to produce and choreograph the Urban Chamber of Commerce’s first annual “Dancing with the Stars” fundraiser.

“Being able to see my own work on stage and witness everything come together as it did was truly one of the must humbling experiences I ever had,” she said. I honestly couldn’t thank my dance teachers, professors, mentors, parents and friends enough for believing and molding me into the dancer I am today.”

Dance is a large part of her life, but over the years she found herself tapping into other areas of creativity like making her own costumes, props and birthday cards, and touching up old picture frames.

“I was always up to something which got me thinking, ‘Why not open a facility where students can learn and build on what they have a love for?’ I wanted to create a place that was a collaboration of everything I was exposed to in the arts and dance world.”

After a lot of thinking about names and concepts, Cardwell decided to call her business P.O.C.E. (pah-SAY) Dance & Art Institute; the acronym means “Point of Charlotte’s Expressions.”

Whether it’s dance, drawing, painting, pottery, sculpting, beading or another art form, Cardwell wants her students to build on the knowledge and continue to grow as artists. Students will follow a curriculum that will entail elements of history, demonstrations and a variety of teaching techniques. Professional artists will visit for demonstrations and teach special classes throughout the year as well.

“A dance and art institute that works together is very different and basically unheard of in the City of Buffalo,” Cardwell said. “P.O.C.E. is the place that wants to prepare and develop future artists and dancers to be an exceptional addition to the arts community. We not only want to be able to showcase what these students already possess, but we want to challenge them to go beyond their normal.”

Eventually Cardwell wants P.O.C.E. to produce students who will be looked at by high schools, colleges and the arts community as a whole. The business’ mission statement is “P.O.C.E. is the place where dance and art come together one brush at a time.”

To “kick off” the inaugural year, P.O.C.E. will offer open master classes for all skill levels. These classes will be held every Monday at 7 p.m. at the Gloria J. Parks Community Center. Instead of being limited to a specific genre, classes will contain elements of ballet, jazz, modern and contemporary. The first open master class will be held on Monday, Nov. 16. Classes are currently limited to dancers ages 18 and up, but high school students may request permission to participate. The age market may open up/change once P.O.C.E. has moves into their space.

If there are any further questions or if you’re interested in registering for class, send an email with your name and contact information to poce.dance.art@gmail.com. You could also like “P O C E” on Facebook for frequent updates.