Laurel Dance Company ‘comes home’ to Ephrata

By on December 20, 2017


Laurel Dance Company opened its new studio at 514 E. Main St., Ephrata. recently. Pictured are the largest of the location’s three studios. Class registrations for 2018 are now being accepted at

The Laurel Dance Company has finally found a home. Located at 514 E. Main St., Ephrata, the Laurel Dance Company officially opened its doors to classes in September.

The Laurel Dance Company, or LDC for short, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit dance company that has been residing in Eastern Lancaster County for about 15 years and has produced an annual Nutcracker production all of those years.

Paula Sauder, vice president of the LDC board of directors, said since its creation, Laurel Dance Company’s mission has been to educate area dancers and performers of all ages the joy and art of performing and dancing through its Nutcracker” production and other performance opportunities in surrounding communities. However, there has always been a dream to do more.

“Over the years, we have resided in three different dance studio locations whose owners were willing to allow us to store our costumes and props and use their studios for rehearsals for the Nutcracker,” Sauder said. “Unfortunately, in mid-April of 2017, the owners of our most recent home closed their doors. Laurel Dance Company was left homeless.”

They held an emergency board meeting and decided to explore opening their own non-profit dance studio.

“It has long been a dream of the board’s for LDC to open its own studio,” she said. “We researched the possibility and we set into motion opening our own dance studio in our current home. Laurel Dance Company officially became dance studio owners on Aug. 1.”

They immediately started painting to make the place their own. They had hoped to receive a loan to help with funding, but were rejected.

“Fortunately for us, a very generous donor came forward and gave us enough funds to get the studio started,” Sauder said. “However, being a non-profit performance company and a dance studio, we are still in need of funds. Studio 3 is complete with flooring and mirrors. We just had a sub sale to raise money for 1 mirror for Studio 1. We still need two more, and we do not have flooring for that studio. Studio 2 does not have any mirrors or flooring, but it is being used for storage at the moment. We would love to have a computer, printer and bookkeeping software.”

They held open houses Aug. 15 and 18, and opened their door to classes Sept. 5.

Besides the typical styles of dance classes such as ballet and hip-hop, they offer tap, jazz and modern classes, musical theater classes, and private voice lessons. They are also exploring the possibility of offering a dance/movement class to students with special needs in the spring of 2018. They would like to offer fitness classes of some sort in the future, as well.

“We consider ourselves family friendly. To us that means that dance movements and costumes fall on the modest side, music with inappropriate language is not allowed and we have a “homework table” and wifi access for students to be able to do school work if they have a break between classes,” Sauder said. “Parents are welcome to use the wifi, too, if they choose to wait in our lobby until their students’ classes finish.”

Because they are a non-profit, Sauder said they try to find fun and creative ways to promote their annual Nutcracker, and now, the studio.

They walked through the New Holland Parade as Nutcracker characters, were seen at Trunk or Treat events at New Holland Church of the Nazarene and Ephrata’s Grace Point Church. They also attended several Christmas tree lightings, including those in Ephrata and Lititz.

As for employees they have an artistic director/choreographer for the Nutcracker and four teachers. They also have three guest teachers that are willing to offer intensive classes throughout the year.

The board members will be volunteering their time to keep the bookwork for the studio, the everyday care of the studio and man the reception area, Sauder said.

Why Ephrata?

LDC was residing in a dance studio where the owner wanted to retire and sold the business, Sauder said. The new owners looked for a more central location for the majority of the students, and they found their new home in the Lee’s Camera Shop building.

“The new owners graciously allowed us to move with them and gave us storage and rehearsal space,” Sauder said. “When they closed the doors to the studio, we decided that if we could afford it, it would be wonderful to open a studio in the same location and not to have to move. Things have fallen into place in our favor, so now, Laurel Dance Company has its own home for storage and rehearsal space and we are able to open a dance studio to offer classes to the community without missing the beginning of this 2017-18 academic school year.”

LDC has its eye on the future and possible expansion.

“We would love to expand the company and the studio,” Sauder said. “The company is always looking forward to having new dancers perform in our annual Nutcracker production and we would like to be able to do more than just that one production in a year.

“For the studio, we hope to continue to expand our class offerings to include many different forms of dance for all ages,” she said, “As far as needing to move the studio for more space, we see that as an event that would happen many years from now.”

For more information, visit:; email:; or phone 717- 466-5800

Registrations for classes for this academic year are still being accepted until Dec. 31.

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