Evanston dance studio plans expansion


Sean Su/Daily Senior Staffer

People walk past Foster Dance Studio, located at 915 Foster St., on Monday. The studio is expanding and hopes to see class enrollment increase as a result.

Tori Latham, Assistant City Editor

An Evanston dance studio is planning an expansion to allow for an increase in enrollment and available classes.

The city’s Design and Project Review Committee approved a few weeks ago the request of Foster Dance Studios, 915 Foster St., to expand into the rear of the building it currently occupies, said Kathryn Ebert, the studio’s executive director and co-founder.

“We decided to expand because our classes were starting to get pretty full,” Ebert said. “We also wanted to be able to do more sophisticated choreography where you need to move across the floor more.”

The space it will absorb has been vacant for a while, but previously functioned as a warehouse for a bookstore, Ebert said. The studio opened three years ago and did not previously have a need for expansion, but Ebert said she thinks now is the right time because the business is growing.

“Right now we can only offer a few little kid classes because we just don’t have the studio space,” she said. “We’d like to be able to offer more of those types of classes. And also just being able to offer more variety for more people.”

Ebert said the plan is to turn the two-story space into one big studio on the ground floor with a changing room and teachers’ lounge upstairs, among other amenities.

Sarah Ehlen, a Medill junior, said she is excited about the studio’s expansion because she takes frequent classes there as a way to supplement her dance minor.

“During ballet, when we stand at the barre, it’s really crowded,” Ehlen said. “So when you want to kick, you have to angle yourself so you don’t kick the person in front of you or behind you.”

Ehlen said she thinks the bigger space will allow the dancers to move more freely and constantly because they often have to complete combinations in smaller groups, causing others to stand around and watch.

“I think it will lead to happier classes and hopefully the opportunity for more classes,” she said.

Ebert said she has received a lot of support for the addition from current students and others in the community.

Mark Muenzer, the city’s director of community development, said he thinks the studio’s growth is a positive development in the area.

“There’s been a lot of interest from different businesses in the area,” he said. “It’s an indicator of a district where people want to be. The studio’s expansion will draw in people who might drop off their kids and then grab a bite to eat.”

Ebert hopes that the expansion will be completed by June but expects it will take until the fall, she said.

“We’re just looking to be the go-to studio for pre-professionals, too, and part of the idea behind the expansion is that it kind of lends a sense of legitimacy to the studio by making it bigger,” she said. “We’re not a small dance studio anymore. We’re a legitimate dance studio that is a destination point for people.”

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