Hagerstown youth dance studio serves as creative outlet for kids


HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — First Academicz Urban Arts Studio is more than just a dance studio — it’s also a creative outlet for Hagerstown youth where kids can build strength and character and find their genius. Performing arts are sometimes where the lessons of life are learned through hip-hop.

For some students elementary school age or older, the big recital is coming up at the studio, located on West Washington Street. Peter Arizmendi, founder of the Fresh Academicz Urban Arts studio, said that students can develop their potential and have fun in a challenging learning process.

Peter Arizmendi, founder of the Fresh Academicz Urban Arts Academy, said, “Things take time. It’s hard work, and it’s not fun. … There’s a time when it’s fun: when we perform. ‘Yeah! That’s great!’ But the process? It’s not fun all the time.”

Arizmendi founded Fresh Academicz when he came to Hagerstown from New York City. Musical expression has taken on many forms, not all of it positive. For his students preparing for the recital, it’s all about being the best you can be.

Heather Wetzel, a parent of an academy student, said, “That’s the one really great thing about the studio, is that not everybody is — they’re not focused on the choreography, they’re focused on the kids as individuals, and they try to highlight what the kids’ strengths are.”

Arizmendi teaches creativity with a positive message.

“You know,” said Arizmendi, “I want them to know what the original way was meant to be. This is the hip-hop you want your kids to see.”

It’s a funky routine of popping, locking and miming; hard work but lots of fun and a growing experience all in one.

“It’s more than a dance studio,” Wetzel says. “You can’t find what’s here anywhere else.”

With break dancing Olympics in France next year, who knows? Some of these students could be returning to Hagerstown with gold medal.

Next month, the Urban Arts Academy will have a gallery exhibit at its Hagerstown studio. A live dance performance is scheduled for the afternoon of Sunday, June 20 on University Plaza downtown.

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