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Dancing off Center

Barefoot Studios sets up shop at former Art On Center facility

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Barefoot Studios has closed its Dome District space and moved — a little to the east. Now housed at the former home of Art on Center at 1604 S. Center St., the eclectic teaching and performance enterprise run by husband and wife teaching team Jim and Josephine Zmolek has re-opened with an expanded curriculum and added dance floor space.

The couple opened shop in the Tacoma Dome District in 2005, during which time they developed a blend of classes in classical ballet, jazz, modern dance, ethnic dance and other movement-based programs. Since then, they have attracted a growing variety of both youth and adult students, as well as a growing cadre of instructors from an array of dance traditions. Now, the team is further expanding its class offerings, lowering its tuition, and adding still more teachers to the faculty.

The Zmoleks decided on the recent move for several reasons, explains co-principal Paul Zmolek, led by rising rent at the old address and the ongoing “D” Street renovation work — which was impacting the studio’s bottom line because of the inconveniences it caused. The new space, on the other hand, “was a lot more convenient for remodeling,” Zmolek says. “If we needed anything, we could just pop over to Tool Town (a building supply store across Center Street).”

Once the new venue was chosen, the couple transferred their vivid color and art scheme to the space and constructed two “sprung wood” dance floors — one for each of the two resident studios. The floors are made of plywood set on a foam pad base to absorb the shock of all those bare and slippered feet.

“And that’s made it much nicer on the joints,” Paul Zmolek explains.

But whatever the changes in location and physical space, the mission of Barefoot Studios remains the same. From the beginning, the goal has been “to create a movement arts center,” Zmolek says, “where people can be exposed to and train in various movement arts.”

Favorite offerings at Barefoot range from ballet classes for adults —  “real ballet for real people” according to the class flyer — as well as programs in adult jazz dance and modern dance. Adding to the mix are classes on “Capoeira,” a combination of acrobatics, dance and martial arts set to African-Brazilian beats, pilates classes, a movement and dance children’s “drop-in” series, and the group’s popular “Church of Perpetual Motion,” a drop-in, all-ages dance jam held on alternating Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon.

With so many forms of dance and movement classes and activities to choose from, couldn’t it be difficult to select one over another? It could, but the Zmoleks have found a way around such dilemmas. Barefoot Studios allows its students to essentially buy time at the studio —  in the style of a pre-paid phone card —  and then choose how they want to spend those minutes among the classes and styles available.

“It allows students to sample various styles,” Zmolek explains, and then perhaps to focus on the ones they like best.

[Barefoot Studios, 1604 S. Center St., Tacoma, 253.627.BARE,]

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