Performing Arts comes to Niles downtown

Published 10:55 am Tuesday, December 21, 2004

By By SPIROS GALLOS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - As the new year approaches, Kathy Kadulski has a lot of plans for her newest creative venture, the Niles Academy of Performing Arts, 214 N. Second St.
The academy, which has been open since early November, currently offers lessons in various styles of dance. But come January, Kadulski will add more programs to the academy's list of offerings, making it a renaissance school of sorts.
In addition to the dance program, the academy will offer a music program with lessons in a variety of instruments from the guitar and percussion instruments to the harmonica and bagpipes.
Drama and voice programs will also be offered, as well as a hip hop program.
The Niles Academy of Performing Arts is the third studio Kadulski has opened since opening her first in Decatur in 1974. Before opening the Niles academy, Kadulski operated two Miss Kathy's Schools of Dance in Decatur and Dowagiac.
Kadulski said she first became interested in opening a studio in the Niles area when she choreographed the Niles High School production of "Crazy for You."
Kadulski taught a youth dance program at the Niles-Buchanan YMCA last year, offering lessons two days a week at the center.
At the urging of students from Niles who attended her dance studios in Decatur and Dowagiac, Kadulski began exploring the option of opening her third studio in downtown Niles.
In June of 2003, Kadulski began looking at properties in Niles to house her new academy, but "everything didn't come together until this past August," she said.
Kadulski originally looked at space in the Niles Corner building, what was formerly known as the Gallery. Unfortunately, the space lacked the size and setup Kadulski was looking for to house the new academy.
After Niles Corner owners Kevin and Cheryl Lewis approached Finders Keepers Antique Mall owner Steve Smith about moving the antique mall into the Niles Corner building, the Niles Academy of Performing Arts moved into its current location.
It certainly seems to be working for Kadulski, who has been busy remodeling the basement of the Academy to accommodate the incoming drama and music programs.
Joining Kadulski in teaching at the Academy will be Whitney Criswell, one of Kadulski's former students at her Dowagiac studio who has returned to teach here in Niles.
Two instructors who have worked with Kadulski in the past are Jessica Webster and Colleen Bradford, who taught dance with Kadulski at the Niles-Buchanan YMCA through the youth dance program last year.
New to Kadulski's crew of instructors are husband and wife team, Zach and Liz Friggs, who will be teaching music and dance, respectively.
Families from Kadulski's other studios are also flocking to the Niles Academy. Madison Gordon, 8, of Niles attended dance classes at the Dowagiac studio for four years before enrolling in classes at the Niles Academy. Madison's mother, Tammy, said it makes taking multiple classes easier since she doesn't have to worry about driving out to Dowagiac.
Kadulski recently assembled a new performing group out of her Dowagiac and Decatur studios called "Positively Dance." The group has performed locally in the Apple Festival Parade.
Kadulski hopes to have a performance group based out of the Niles Academy within the next year.
In effort to develop what she calls "triple threat" students, Kadulski will be offering cards which will allow students to take multiple classes at package deals.
A triple threat student is one who can not only dance, but sing and act for example, Kadulski said.
Kadulski currently offers dance cards which give students their choice of different packages of dance classes they can enroll in. Triple threat cards will be available in January when the music and drama programs start up.