PROFILE 2023 — Sharing her passion

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Studio 301 was the cover story for this year’s edition of Profile.  (The Ironton Tribune | Heath Harrison)

Instructor offers wide variety at Chesapeake dance studio 

Launching Studio 301 in 2020 consisted of overcoming some obstacles for Kenzie Buchanan. 

Originally, the dance studio was going to be located in Proctorville, her hometown, where she graduated from Fairland High School (It’s name comes from its initial planned site at 301 Elizabeth Street there), but prior to opening, she had to move the business to a different site. 

The Ironton Tribune | Heath Harrison

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Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March of that year, leading to shutdowns of nonessential businesses and the implementation of social distancing and health guidelines. 

“It was a blast,” she said of the difficulty. 

As things began to reopen around Ohio in May, Buchanan decided to go for it and slated her start for that August. 

She opened her doors at 518 3rd Ave. in Chesapeake, with masking and safe practices in place. 

“We found this space and I think it’s a good spot in town,” she said. “Everybody in Chesapeake has been really nice to us and welcoming.” 

Since then, she has seen steady attendance and, with a staff of eight instructors, offers a wide variety of classes. 

“They’re all great and have different, varying backgrounds,” she said of the teachers. “We have a wide variety of dance studios in our area and each one of them comes from a different place. We’ve kind of been able to take the best of dance in the Tri-State and brought it into one place, which is pretty cool.” 

The Ironton Tribune | Heath Harrison

Kenzie Buchanan instructs students at Studio 301 in Chesapeake in December 2022. (The Ironton Tribune | Heath Harrison)

Describing their offerings, Buchanan said it is “all kinds of stuff.” 

“We have ballet, tap, jazz, acro, hip hop, baton — baton is one of our biggest programs — contemporary, lyrical, musical theater and K-pop, which is a new one.” 

She said classes are available for ages 18 months and up. 

“We don’t have a cap,” she said. “Even if you’re 36 years old and want to come start ballet, come on in. We’ll get you in a ballet class.” 

She said attendance varies, but has remained steady. 

“Right now, we have about 65,” she said. “They’re mostly from this area. We have a lot of kids from Ashland and the Tri-State in general. And a lot of people come from the Symmes Valley area, since we’re the closest for them.” 

She said many of those attending now were there at the start. 

“Overall, we have a steady, good group of consistent dancers, which I love,” Buchanan said. “That’s really important with dance — consistency. If you’re not coming, you’re not going to get any better. And I have a group of kids who want to get better and are in here constantly.” 

She said the studio had their first full competition season last year. 

“They did really well,” she said. “We got a few platinum awards, which is the highest you can get. We had a very small program last year and we’re slowly building on it. Now that we have new competition director, Sophia Holley, I think we’re going to keep looking ahead on that. She’s been dancing her whole life and brings something cool to the table.“ 

Kenzie Buchanan instructs students at Studio 301 in Chesapeake in December 2022. (The Ironton Tribune | Heath Harrison)

Buchanan said they put on a few productions a year and recently performed “The Nutcracker” at the Foundry Theater at City Hall in Huntington, with whom they have a partnership. 

“It was our first time doing The Nutcracker this year, and it was a very huge success,” she said. “it was probably our best show so far.” 

She said they also host their “Dancing Through” series of shows, in which they adapt popular books. 

“The first one we did was ‘Dancing Through Oz’ retelling ‘The Wizard of Oz’ through dance, and with no words,” she said. “And we have ‘Dancing Through Wonderland,’ and ‘Dancing Through the Chocolate Factory,’ which is Willie Wonka,” she said. 

“Dancing Through Wonderland” is slated for April.

 Buchanan said they also host an end-of-year showcase annually. 

“Every dancer participates in that,” she said. “And, other than the recital, all of our productions are free for dancers. They don’t have to pay costs and fees and don’t have to pay performance fees. We’re very not money-based, but are for the experience. We try to promote that as much as we can, because that really what it’s all about.” 

When asked what inspires her most to teach, Buchanan said “I have such a passion for dance, I can’t hold it all in.” 

“I’ve got to let other people have a taste of it,” she said. “It’s so much fun and it really unites people together. I’ve made best friends from dance and want other people to be able to do that, too. No matter who you are, if you’ve ever danced before or if you have no experience, walk in and we’ll find a class for you. You’ll have a good time and that’s really important to me.”