Ampersand Academy of Dance & Performing Arts #ThinkGardinerFirst

“I think as a studio, we do things a bit differently than maybe others would. Technique is incredibly important, but all of us teaching here also realize that dance is different for each individual. We have a mixed set of students here with some who are here just for fun and purely recreational reasons and then we have some that might want to put in that extra time and effort to pursue dance as a career. Whether it’s Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Contemporary, Hip-Hop, Bollywood, Acro, Acting, or Pointe, our goal is to give them the training and technique that they need to take their dancing wherever they want to go with it – It could just be dancing around their house or auditioning for a Broadway show. To us, our success is defined by providing a positive experience and creative outlet for our dancers and seeing growth in their skill set, confidence, and self-esteem.

We take a really creative approach to how we present our work too. We have two shows a year, one at Christmas and one in May. Our shows aren’t hours long and they don’t require expensive or fancy costumes. Instead, we focus on a story to tell and hope they carry a purpose. It’s not just individual pieces of dance that are put in order, but each piece works together to create a single performance for the audience to enjoy. We want to have the audience on the journey with us and in that way, I think it makes it more enjoyable for both the kids and the parents. Because we weren’t able to do a live performance this year at Christmas, we ended up creating a movie and calling it “Miracle on Water Street,” where we filmed dances all around Gardiner and put it all together. I am excited about our spring show and have decided on a title, “Midnight at the Haunted Mansion,” but I still have plenty of details to work out. I’m really hoping for an in person performance again, so I’m working on finding venues that might allow for a series of smaller performances. 

Ampersand Dance Recital

We have several wonderful teachers here other than myself. Katherine Kollman is our main Ballet and Pointe instructor and she also does acting classes. Sarah Trussell teaches the younger age groups as well as some Tap and Hip-Hop and competition. Our newest instructor is Austin Wojchowski who teaches Acro and competition.

We are also lucky to have Helen Wright helping students and parents at the front desk. Everyone works really hard at creating an atmosphere where students look at each other not as the person they’re competing against, but as a teammate. Dance is very much an individual sport but that does not mean you are alone on the journey. Dance has a reputation for being really competitive 

and strict (and we are not exempt to the struggles), but we are here to help them become the best version of themselves and to remind them that someone else’s success is not your failure. We want to help them in lifting each other up to reach their full potential.”


Ampersand Academy of Dance will be starting a new session this Monday, February 1st and is located at 293 Water street in Gardiner. You can find their Spring 2021 class schedule and get registered at You can also find Ampersand on Facebook and Instagram (@AmpersandAcademy). #thinkgardinerfirst