Last edited 10:59 a.m., Dec. 6, 2017
From New York City to Los Angeles to Galveston, Texas – Trai Allgeier has danced her way across the country, and ended up off Campbell Avenue, where she now teaches the next generation of dancers.
The owner of Point Performing Arts, Trai is sharing her professional dancing skills in the Springfield area, and she’s expanding those services as the company moves to a new studio in early January.
Trai’s dancing journey began when she was 2 years old, inspired by her grandmother. She started teaching at 14 years old, and after graduating high school, Trai starred in “Galveston the Musical” in the play’s namesake city. She also performed in off-Broadway productions in New York City and Los Angeles before traveling to the Springfield area where her parents were retiring in 2011.
“I thought I’d stay a year or so,” she says with a laugh.
However, Trai ended up landing a teaching job at Point Performing Arts, which was then owned by Lindsey Arellano. Trai assisted with competitions and taught ballet, jazz and contemporary dance. One day, Trai received intriguing news: Arellano was planning to sell the studio.
“At first, I thought she was joking,” Trai says. “She said she wasn’t joking and I said, ‘Well, I guess I’ll take it.’”
Trai purchased the studio in 2013 for $25,000 – with two $12,500 investments from her parents and fiance, now her husband. Most dance studios, she says, are sold for the cost of the previous owner’s investment plus the annual revenues. At that time, Point Performing Arts was small, Trai says, with about 30 students.
Now, the studio has 144 students. The company employs an instructor who teaches alongside Trai about 20 hours a week. Several others assist with classes a few hours a week and the studio often has roving teachers who drop in with their expertise – including one whose traveling circus route brings her to Springfield in the summer to teach aerial silks.
It’s the mother-daughter duo – Trai and her mother Susan Allgeier – who spend the majority of their time with day-to-day tasks that keep the studio running. They say they make a balanced team.
Susan worked 40 years in collections with banks and credit unions before a short-lived retirement. She quickly joined her daughter’s newly acquired studio, and handles the technical side of the business. Trai covers the artistic angles.
“It works pretty well since we have different mindsets in that way,” Trai says.
Susan also is dubbed the “original dance mom” and the studio’s grandmother. She often sews the costumes for the students.
“The kids are like grandchildren,” Susan says. “I love seeing the little ones.”
Move and shake
Point Performing Arts is buzzing these days – dance classes during the daytime for young children, evening after-school classes, vocal and piano lessons, and aerial silks classes. With the silks, participants perform acrobatics while hanging from the ceiling on long strips of fabric.
All the activity has the studio squeezed in its 2,600 square feet at 3657 South Ave. in Kickapoo Corners.
“It’s very crowded here,” Trai says, adding that her 15-17 student ballet classes often don’t have room to do barre exercises in the current two studios.
With their lease up in February, Trai and Susan knew it was an ideal time to move – and they found a new home just a few blocks away at 3322 S. Campbell Ave., Ste. AB, in Sheid’s Plaza.
The new location has three studios with improved lighting, 18-foot ceilings – ideal for aerial silks – and, soon, dance-grade floors ordered from Pennsylvania’s StageStep. The new floors are portable to accommodate future growth. It came with a $30,000 price tag, but Trai and Susan say it’s a worthwhile investment.
An additional $10,000 in moving expenses will get the studio settled into the 4,600-square-foot space owned by McLoud and Co. LLC.
Susan and her husband sold their home in Republic and moved to Springfield, with some of the money going to the new floors. Moving was part of the plan anyway, she says, to shorten her commute to the studio.
“I lived in Republic and have been doing to the studio seven days a week. So the drive was taking up a lot of my time,” Susan says. “The new house is not even a mile away.”
Also moving to the new space is Motion Playlist Studio, a hip-hop dance crew that became a subsidiary of Point Performing Arts two years ago. At the time of the merger, Motion Playlist had about 10 students. Now, they have 25.
“They look forward to the new studio, and they are very involved,” Trai says.
Raising the barre
Although many of Trai’s students are participating for the fun of dance, some are seriously considering a career in the industry. Her background comes into play for them.
“I come from a little more professional standpoint from being in the industry,” she says. “We try to give them as many life lessons as well as dance lessons. … Most of my older girls want to go into it in some way.”
One of her former students is now a dancer at Oklahoma City University. She also allows some of them to be assistant teachers, like she was.
“I did become a good teacher because of it,” Trai says.
The last four years, Point Performing Arts students preformed alongside other local dance groups in the Moscow Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker” at the Gillioz Theatre.
“It’s something for their resume,” Susan says.
Trai says she sometimes has to remind her students to not get distracted or starstruck as they pirouette and twirl across the stage with the Moscow dancers.
“It’s such a fun experience,” she says, adding it’s also educational. “They are not just only in ‘The Nutcracker,’ but they do it with these professional dancers.”
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