Cheat Lake’s Umbrella Arts Academy is creating a safe space for artistic growth and movement.
The arts have been a form of expression since the beginning of time, and the last few years have only proved how important that expression is—we need an outlet for all the things we’re feeling, experiencing, and witnessing. We need to move and explore and release, and we need safe spaces to do so without judgment.
Thus, Umbrella Arts Academy in Cheat Lake was born. “We want to give everyone a safe and creative place to learn and explore,” says Artistic Director Angela Dennis. “We are very intentionally setting out to make space for everyone.”
Dennis, classically trained in ballet with more than 20 years’ experience in teaching movement, wanted to build a community that supported any artist in any form of expression. Partnering with friend and business director Elizabeth Braithwaite earlier this year, the two became dedicated to creating a non-competitive environment for both pre-professional and recreational growth and development. “We’re not interested in competitive institutions, but in art as your process. There is value in aiming for a goal, but I feel like it’s how you approach and discuss it in the environment,” Dennis says. “We’re trying to enhance and provide an outlet for those artists and parents who are looking for it without that commercialized experience.”
Classes vary across artistic disciplines, with plans for more to come as community interest and needs grow. Currently, you’ll find a variety of dance courses that range from beginner to more advanced, preschool-age to adults and seniors, modern dance to ballet. Basic and visual arts courses are popular ways to let your creative juices flow, with classes in cartoon drawing and art exploration. “We’re building towards theater in the spring with more art exploration and dance across more days and times,” Dennis says. “It’s cool to be in a position to cater to what the community needs and wants.” As their motto says, “There’s room for everyone under the umbrella!”
The fall semester is making its way to an end on December 19, so keep an eye out in the coming week as they announce classes for their spring semester. Students are welcome to enroll at any point in the semester for weekly classes and guest workshops. Check the website for class descriptions and schedules as well as registration information.
Want to experience the academy before enrolling? Pop in on Sunday, November 20, from noon to 3 p.m. for an open house to get a taste of life under the umbrella.