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Center Stage brings big city dance moves to town

PLATTSBURGH - Heather Van Arsdel wanted to be a dancer for as long as she can remember.

"My mother was a professional dancer," recalled Van Arsdel. "She danced with the Joffrey Ballet and was even on stage with the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall back in the 1950s. She ended up owning a dance studio where I grew up in Titusville, Fla., so I grew up in the dance studio."

Van Arsdel carried a love for dancing throughout her childhood and took her passion one step further when she attended the New World School of the Arts in Miami, Fla. After two years there, Van Arsdel traveled to New York City, carrying with her a dream of being a Broadway dancer. However, that dream changed one day.

"I ended up going to a Knicks game, saw the dancers and said, 'Forget Broadway. I want to be a Knicks City Dancer,'" she recalled.

Van Arsdel's talent and determination landed her a spot on the dance team despite trying out being "the hardest, most intimidating audition" of her life. She stayed with the team for six years and, during that time, witnessed the birth of the Knicks City Kids, a dance team for youths, which she still oversees to this day, traveling nearly every weekend to the city to coach.

"We're looked upon as one of the premiere kids dance groups," said Van Arsdel.

Since coming to the North Country about five years ago, Van Arsdel has wanted to start her own studio, offering classes that would help fill a need she saw in the area.

"I tried to take dance classes here and I really couldn't find anything that fit me, with my experience and something that I might be interested in doing," said Van Arsdel. "I just saw that there was like a hole in the arts in general here. Not that it doesn't exist here, I just felt like there was a lot of room for more."

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