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Tualatin activity center takes grand leap forward

After 21 years, Metro Gymnastics Center has become a one-stop shop for young people

Metro Dance Academy is leaping forward, joining Metro Gymnastics Center expansive programming schedule to provide even more activities for young people.

Metro Gymnastics opened in 1990 at 18084 S.W. Lower Boones Ferry Road and has been growing and expanding ever since. Over the years, the studio has evolved, opening a preschool, ceramics workshop and coffee shop - all in an effort to serve as a one-stop destination for activity-driven kids and their parents. The center has up to 1,200 students involved in a variety of programs at one time. The newest addition to the programming schedule is a variety of dance classes in its newly dedicated 1,500-square-foot dance studio.

'The goal was always to create a children's activity center,' said owner David Klein. 'Gymnastics is still our bread and butter but we realize there are other activities out there for children.'

Klein, a Portland native who went to Grant High School and Portland State University, is a former gymnast himself.

Klein hired Blazer Dancer and Tigard High School alum Stephanie Anderson to serve as executive director of the dance studio.

He said when it came time to hire someone to take over the dance academy, he was impressed by Anderson's resume, experience and love of children.

Anderson, who has been dancing since she was 3 years old, calls the center a 'nice little hub of wonderfulness.'

The dance center will offer hip hop, jazz, tap, ballet and musical theater classes. Anderson said this summer the studio will also offer general technique classes and dance team prep.

'This is a studio that will be offering something for all ages, for all levels,' Anderson said. 'I'm just really excited to grow a studio from scratch. There is a prevalent need in the Tigard, Tualatin and Lake Oswego area.'

While she's always been a dancer, Anderson said she realized in high school that she also had a love of teaching.

'It's so cool to see these kids run up to you and be so excited to see you and know that I am the one making a huge impact in their lives,' she said.

After high school, Anderson studied music at Chapman University in California and held down a job with the college before returning to the Tigard area to be a Blazer Dancer.

'Nothing can quite compare to what it feels like being out there, performing in front of an audience,' she said.

Klein said Metro Dance Academy will reach out to the new generation of young people, many of whom have been inspired by the TV show 'Glee' and 'High School Musical' movies.

'One of the goals is to provide a premiere dance academy for the Tigard, Tualatin, Lake Oswego area,' Klein said. 'There are other programs out there but we wanted to offer one that will be more contemporary in nature.'

Klein said Metro Gymnastics Center is about more than just getting kids in shape. For him, it's about creating positive role models for kids and encouraging young people in a safe place.

'We are an anchor in the community,' Klein said. 'We have a strong reputation for providing a positive, self esteem-building environment for students of all ages.'