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Meet the Owner: Giving Kids a Chance to Dance

Jen Kranenberg is an East Northport mom whose love for dance eventually led her to own a studio in East Setauket.

Not long after she finished her degree in marine biology at Stony Brook University, longtime dancer Jen Kranenberg was offered the chance to become the owner of the dance studio she had been teaching at in Setauket.

"I never really thought I was going to own a studio. Everything just kind of happened," said Kranenberg, who grew up upstate and has now settled in East Northport. "I thought I would have a job in marine biology somewhere and would teach dance on Saturday on the side."

She could have stayed on track in her marine biology career; around that time, she also worked for the Okeanos Ocean Research Foundation, the predecessor to the Riverhead Foundation. But Kranenberg took a chance and accepted the opportunity, calling her new studio

Fifteen years later, her studio has a few hundred students and a nearly brand-new location on North Belle Meade Road in East Setauket in which she consolidated her two previous Setauket and Port Jefferson locations.

"I love what I do. I don’t think there’s anything better than coming in every day and loving what you do," she said. "It’s not work, it’s fun. To see the kids and their smiling faces ... I think they feel like they’ve found a place to call their own."

Chance To Dance offers ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, musical theater, and hip hop, along with Zumba and yoga in the morning for adults. It features a community-based dance team that participates in special events and fundraisers throughout the year, and employs a staff of five other teachers. Oftentimes, there are three classes happening at once in each of the studio's dance rooms.

Acknowledging that her North Belle Meade Road location may be a bit unusual for a dance studio – where it is nestled among dozens of medical offices and service-oriented and real estate businesses – Kranenberg said the location has attracted students from not only Setauket, Stony Brook, Mt. Sinai, and Port Jefferson but also Smithtown and Patchogue.

Long Island is widely considered a hotbed for dance talent, with nationally-ranked dance teams and what sometimes seems like multiple studios in every town. But while there are a handful of other dance studios in and close to the Three Village community, she said she thinks "there are probably just enough."

"We’re all very different, which I think is good," Kranenberg said. "There’s a place for everyone to have a chance to dance."

Shelly Stone September 11, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Best of luck, Jen! I think it's great to see a dance studio with a community focus. I'm sure tons of people will respond to your message.
Barbara O'Bine September 12, 2012 at 07:47 PM
This is a great article. I have seen how your students feel about you. The returning alumni says it all. You let your students experience the love of dance. They can just dance and enjoy that without extra pressure. Congratulations!
Stephanie Rooney October 09, 2012 at 12:53 PM
What a wonderful article! I feel like I'm in such a similar position as Jen. I have a science degree, worked within that field for years, and have now taken a completely different course to owning my own photography studio. I'd love to connect with you Jen! I'm sure I could capture some of those smiling faces you mention!

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