The Innovative Cultural Ambitions of The Studio & Performance Space

Posted In: Culture, Community Profiles,   From Issue 822   By: Robert E Martin

04th February, 2016     0

For Bill Harmon, owner & proprietor of The Studio and Performance Space, which is a spanking new instructional & performance center geared to cultivate artistic talents throughout the Mid-Michigan region while also offering patrons & students a chance to display their talents before live audiences, his new endeavor is equally exciting as it is constantly evolving. “People are going to be able to learn all kinds of new things – dance, music, art, panting, photography – the applications are endless; but more importantly we are going to be able to provide them with a venue to also showcase their talents to the general public.”

Located at 825 N. Center Rd. in Saginaw Township, the concept for The Studio & Performance Space began when Bill was enlisted by a friend to assist with property management of the building, which formerly housed the famous Nelson Curtis Dance Studio.  The structure itself is a large labyrinth of rooms, office space, and the expansive studio portion itself is 40 x 60 feet. For the 18 months that Bill stepped in to help manage the property, people would come and go, forging a problem that quickly became a solution for Bill.

“The Dance Studio itself is so large with so much space that most people don’t know how to accommodate the size factor,” explains Bill. “They either can’t afford to rent it or have difficultly obtaining enough students, so my thought was why limit it strictly to dance? Why not simply incorporate as many facets of the Arts into the space as possible and use the front office spaces for musical instruction and a variety of applications ranging from classes, dance, and actual live performances for the larger portions of the structure.”

“There are so many other things people like to do,” continues Bill, “and I never think inside the box. So I started thinking: what is dance? What is music? Basically, it comes down to personal enrichment. It’s stuff other than work that people want to do and learn. People that wish to learn the art of dance want to experience the joy of dancing. People that want to learn music want to play music and give enjoyment to other people. So what else can we do here? Jazzercise, Zumba, photography, painting – no longer are we limited strictly to dance.”

Bill decided the goal would be to keep the building open from 6:00 am to midnight seven days a week, which opened a ton of possibilities.  “The more I tell people about what I’m doing here, the more ideas pop up.  What about featuring Martial Arts classes along with Jiu Jitsu and Tae Kwon Do and Japanese things like Aikido. Anybody looking for space to conduct these types of classes, we are open towards.”

Although the instructional opportunities, musical, and dance oriented performances & events are in a fluid state as Bill ramps up scheduling at The Studio and Performance Space, thus far they have secured Zumba instruction on Wednesdays at 6 PM & Saturdays at 10 AM.

Indeed, on Saturday, Feb. 6th from 10 am – 1 PM, the Zumurrud Middle Eastern Dance Troupe will be presenting an ‘Ex-s and Oh’s Valentine Workshop with Yasmina Amal that will be open to the public, with no dance experienced required. 

With Middle Eastern Belly Dancing, the focus is upon building strength, flexibility and control of every muscle group, along with enhancing balance and coordination.  The goal is to enhance awareness of middle eastern music & dance while promoting lifelong participation in the performing arts; and these workshops are open to all ages, races & genders. All that’s required for this particular Valentine’s workshop is an oversized shirt and a neck tie.  Advance registration is encouraged and the cost is only $40.00 at the door for the 3-hour workshop. You can register by emailing zumurruddance@gmail or phoning 989-415-4815.


Additional classes offered include:

Chalk Paint Class. This will teach you how to give life to an old piece of furniture or home décor and turn it into a ‘Shabby Chic’ piece that you will love. Times and days will vary and cost is $50.00 per session, which includes supplies. Those interested can call Michelle at 989-475-5782.

• Jill Wellington Photography – Advanced Portraiture Class. Former WNEM-TV5 newswoman Jill Wellington is conducting advanced portraiture classes at The Studio. Jill’s work has been featured on book & album covers, magazine covers, articles, ads and websites all over the world. Jill with teach how to focus, work with aperture and depth of field and utilize natural light and how to capture perfect skin tones. This is not a basic learning photography class and students must own a DSLR camera and a 50mm lens is recommended. You must also know how to use a camera in manual mode and understand the exposure triangle of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO and how to set your camera. Six 2-hour classes are conducted on Sundays from 1-4 PM, which started January 24th and will run up through February 28th.

• Music Lessons with Jacob Wisenbach. Jacob studied guitar with Dr. Brad DeRoche for one year and trumpet with Dr. Mark Flegg for 3 years. He’s also studied jazz with Jeff Hall for 3 years and piano with Anna Leppert-Largent and MiJung Trepanier. He has performed with Sprout, Matt Besey, The Barbarossa Brothers, Mike Brush, Jim Pagel, Pat Cronley and Matt Corrigan and has his own jazz group called The Standard Session. Classes are only $25 per half hour or $40 per hour and you can book a session by calling The Studio or Jacob at 989-670-9023.

• Ballroom Dance Wednesdays. Certified instruction that will take place at 7:00 PM on Wednesdays, with Open Ballroom Dancing going from 8:00 – 10:00 PM. Bill says in the future he hopes to bring in an actual ballroom dance band every other week, or at least once a month, so patrons not only have instruction in Ballroom dancing but a facility to perform it in. Both Ballroom Dance & Zumba instructions will be conducted by Mary Samaniego.

Additional plans include featuring Jazz Instruction on Tuesdays from 7-9 PM, with students performing in The Performance Space from 9-11 PM.  Bill has been working with Raeann Jones, the musical director for the Saginaw Area Youth Jazz Ensemble (SAYJE) to help develop programming and class sots.  “Thus far we’ve had two different bands here in the last two weeks,” explains Bill, “The Standard Session, and Jazz 101, which featured a couple performing that have been playing jazz for 30 years.”

“Essentially, we want this to be an incubator of sorts for the arts,” continues Bill. “We have a coffee house environment and will eventually feature smoothies and other refreshments. We have a $5.00 cover charge for all performances held at Performance Space, regardless of the nature of the performance.  We’re looking at rotating four different groups over the course of the month.”

“Thursdays we will be featuring Middle Eastern Belly Dancing with Zumurrude Dance Troupe from 6-7 PM for beginners and 7-8 PM for intermediate, with performances following in Performance Space. “We’re also trying to find middle eastern musicians to perform once a month,” explains Bill, “and then alternate with Country Music Line Dancing instruction.”

“Fridays we will be featuring new Hip Hop & Contemporary Music with open dancing instructions starting at 6 PM that will allow people to learn how to dance to the new stuff by artists like Usher & Pitbull. This will be taught by Jamall Jackson.”

Finally, on Saturdays Bill hopes to offer 70s-80s-90s dancing in the evening, with 60s-70s music featured in the afternoon. “At 8:00 Saturday evening we’ll transform the Performance Space into a Saturday Night Fever type of setting for dancing, and during the day feature Zumba at 10 am.”

Mondays will spotlight a Nutritional Night with various seminars on vitamins & nutrition, and guest speakers and instructors will be brought into various sessions. These classes will run $10.00 per class and start at 6:00 PM, covering a myriad of topics, including the ‘Truth about Cancer’. Then from 7:30-8:45 various nutritional suppliers will conduct seminars.

Considering their first opening day was January 2nd, thus far things are moving quickly at this new facility.  “We already have a weekend booked for Jazz and will be bringing in the Anthony Wellington Jazz Combo from Washington, D.C. in May,” adds Bill.

For those interested in booking instructional & performance space, the charge is based upon the room or space being utilized and is charged per hour. Anybody interested in learning more or booking classes or performance space is encouraged to phone Bill at 989-860-3900 or 989-341-1640.

 “We can figure out the type of space you need and where to fit things into the schedule,” he notes. “If somebody would like to conduct an oil painting on canvas workshop, we can do that. As I say, the possibilities are limitless.”

You can also email Bill at The for additional information.




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