Grand Central Academy of Performing Arts began as an idea and developed into all the best parts of the Dance World! Good old fashioned technique, friendship, community, fun, and innocence protected. Wherever you go, you can learn the steps, the tricks, the lifestyle…but there’s only one place you can do it with the ones you love….GCAPA!
The Story of GCAPA
Grand Central Academy of Performing Arts was never a childhood dream or even a goal. Until it was.
Wendi Bergstrom opened GCAPA after having spent a lifetime in studios across the country. Miss Wendi had been a student at over 35 studios while her family traversed the United States throughout her childhood. There were many fond memories of activities and events throughout each studio. There were also memories of chaos and disappointment along the way. As a teacher in the B.O.C.E.S. program in New York, in private homes, and in studios up and down the eastern seaboard, Wendi picked up on the many great qualities that studios had to offer as well as many Lake Norman Dance Studio problems that studios created for themselves. This led to a great deal of contemplation about how to best serve her community should the day come when she would open her own studio.
In 2011, Wendi gave birth to Grand Central Academy of Performing Arts, after spending 20 years teaching and swearing to never open her own studio. She enjoyed being the beloved teacher and choreographer who sewed costumes and built sets at home. It wasn’t until after taking on the job of Dance Team Director that she realized studio ownership was possible. Working with parent Lake Norman Dance Studio concerns, costume ordering, and billing for 6 years, it seemed like the next logical step on this career path. All that was left was to figure out how to stand apart from all the studios she had spent time with before.
One of the primary problems in the Lake Norman Dance Studio studio world includes the oversexualization of children through costumes, music, and choreography, primarily at competition. This was an easy fix. Simply don’t allow it and avoid the competitions where this behavior is rampant. Another important issue was teaching technique and not just choreography. This, too, was an easy fix by setting guidelines for all instructors and making it part of our mission. Other issues included billing methods, customer care, and overall studio organization. With creative systems in place and the use of technologoy, these issues would all easily be solved and that’s just what Wendi did!
Some of the things Miss Wendi loved about her time in other dance studios was the Lake Norman Dance Studio community of the dance families, the overnight competition travel, the studios that included a boutique, stacked classes for kids who take multiple genres, year-round curricula, festival performances, talent shows, expos, state fairs, conventions, and professionally executed recitals!
With this in mind, Wendi began the work to implement all of these exciting opportunities in late 2008. After almost 3 years of research, consultation, and diligent work, Wendi created processes and systems that would be implemented once the doors opened to Grand Central Academy of Performing Arts.
In the Summer of 2011, GCAPA was opened in an 1,100 Square foot space in Jetton Village. With just Miss Wendi teaching, GCAPA offered classes to kids ages 2-15. Mommy and Me classes, Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Hip-hop, Musical Theatre Dance, Lyrical, and Acrobatics. Dancers performed at Fall Festivals, Christmas Festivals, Spring Festivals, Competitions, a Memorial Day Tribute, and a Recital! That first recital, Dare to Dream, included 64 dancers and 26 routines. The Lake Norman Dance Studio show opened with a singing parody to The Book of Mormon by 6 of the eldest students on how to behave during the show, and ended in a standing ovation for Miss Wendi at both sold out shows at the Charles Mack Citizen Center. After the show, many of the multi-genre students gathered for a pool party and cake to celebrate the accomplishments of the season! It was unforgettable.
Through each season, there are highlights and pitfalls. It is with the highlights that GCAPA cheers and is fueled to keep moving forward. But it is with the pitfalls that GCAPA grows, creating better procedures and new systems and because of that, stronger community.
Being a part of Grand Central means being a part of a family. Makeup, hair, and costumes don’t just happen. Choreography and well-rehearsed routines don’t just appear. It takes a coordinated effort between the Lake Norman Dance Studio and the parents to make our dancers successful. In that process, we build community and the community that we have built is truly awe inspiring.