Cuppett Performing Arts Center in Vienna has begun its 60th year of operations and will be celebrating the milestone anniversary all year.
Activities will include “60 Reasons I Love the Cuppetts,” a social-media campaign featuring testimonials from current students and alumni, and an annual recital, “Diamonds,” with vintage choreography and brand-new dances.
The coming year also will see jazz classes for students as young as 6 (the previous minimum was 10 years old) and a new dance company created for students 7 to 10 years old.
“We have always sought ways to make a difference and to give back to our community, offering free performances throughout the year, and this will continue to be our focus,” said owner Amy Cuppett.
The company began in 1962 at Vienna Catholic School, Our Lady of Good Counsel, after Mother Catherine Loyola asked Alzine Straub Cuppett, a former Radio City Rockette and dance student of actor and singer Gene Kelly, to provide dance lessons to the school’s students.
Cuppett at first taught classes out of her home on Frederick Street in Vienna, then had a house built on Old Courthouse Road that had a custom-designed dance studio in the basement. It was there that she founded the Cuppett School of Dance.
The business thrived, so Cuppett in 1980 obtained space at 135 Park St., S.E., at Park Plaza Center in Vienna and incorporated the company as the Cuppett Performing Arts Center.
In addition to four large dance studios, the facility includes offices, dressing rooms, waiting areas and a dance-wear store called “Allegra’s Dance Boutique,” named after the late founder’s West Highland white terrier.
The business has been run by the family for three generations. Cuppett’s daughter Amy took over operations from her mother in 1996 and expanded the company’s enrollment from 200 students to 600.
“My mother’s impact was immense and I plan to continue making my impact, modeled after hers but uniquely my own, for the next 60 years,” Amy Cuppett said.
The dance studio now has 24 faculty and staff members. Enrollment was about 800 students before the pandemic, but now stands at about half that figure.
Alzine Cuppett died in August 2012 at age 85. Her daughter Joyce helps with the company’s bookkeeping, and Amy Cuppett’s niece, Ashley Cuppett, aids with the marketing efforts.
The company offers classes for dancers who are age 3 and older and of ability levels ranging from beginner to professional. In addition to Russian (Vaganova) and Italian (Cecchetti) ballet, the company provides classes in tap, jazz, modern, character, lyrical/contemporary, hip-hop, acro-dance and musical theater.
Most of the classes are in-person, with everyone on site masked up because of the pandemic, but the business also offers a “virtual” option for students who are quarantining at home.
In addition to improving their physical health, strength, flexibility and coordination, taking up dance awakens people’s creative side, builds discipline and fosters lifelong friendships, members of the dance company said.