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Forest Hills studio offers diverse dance styles

Kelly Ficarra’s passion for dancing is so strong she said she incorporates elements of the art into everyday life and work.

While expanding her successful dance studio, Rhythms & Soul in Forest Hills, in December, she combined her business operations and classes.

“It’s fun to put the different styles together and help people experience different things and cultures,” the Forest Hills resident said.

Since opening the studio on the second floor of 70-11 Austin St., Ficarra said she has been getting a lot of positive responses from the nearly 300 adult students she and her staff teach.

The studio includes two full-size dance rooms with mirror-lined walls, ample lighting and a DJ system for the music. The atmosphere mixes the athletic necessities needed for the classes with a friendly feel, according to the owner.

“You start to see the same people and look forward to seeing that group and new people as well,” Ficarra said.

Open seven days a week, the studio has several dance styles to offer students, including belly dance aerobics, swing and hip-hop. The two most popular classes are the salsa and zumba, according to Ficarra.

“It’s the Latin music just makes you want to get up and move,” she said.

Ficarra’s staff includes male and female dancers who have backgrounds in different fields, such as Middle Eastern-based, Latin and contemporary American dance styles.

“When you have all of these different types of dance, it’s like orchestrating this big symphony,” said Ficarra, who instructs some classes.

After taking some dance classes as a child, Ficarra began dancing professionally on stage and in television as an adult. Sixteen years ago, she began teaching classes in Queens and on Long Island.

After nearly a decade of instructing, she decided to branch off on her own and created Rhythms and Soul in Levittown, L.I. The studio, which offers the same classes as the Forest Hills branch and shares the same teachers, grew popular fast, according to Ficarra.

“I think it’s because we have a laid-back approach,” she said of her business’ success. “It’s a friendly, noncompetitive atmosphere.”

When she decided to bring her studio to a spot closer to her home, some of her business partners expressed concerns because of the cost of renting the space and the locale, which is more tailored toward boutique clothing stores and restaurants.

Ficarra said in the end that did not matter because Forest Hills customers saw the studio as something different and fun.

“The response I get from people is, ‘Oh, wow. I was hoping for something like this,’” she said. “Word of mouth travels quickly here.”

Ficarra said anyone who has any interest in learning moves should come to her studio and take a shot.

“We tell [potential students] if you are able to walk into the door, you’re already ahead of the game,” she said.

For more information on Rhythms & Soul, log on to rhythmsandsoul.com.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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