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New business dances into Blackduck

Dance instructor and First City Dance Studio owner, Cathy Marcotte, holds a shirt up to her daughter Katrina to check the size while organizing her new studio location in Blackdudck. Photo by Christen Furlong.

Almost two months after the Blackduck Theater reopened on Main Street, another business will fill an empty downtown storefront this summer when First City Dance Studio of Bemidji expands to Blackduck on Wednesday, Sept. 4.

The studio will be located in the former Hardware Hank building across Main Street from the theater and will feature a main studio with an attached reception area and retail store where dance apparel and accessories will be sold.

The Bemidji branch of First City was opened in 2002 by the 46-year-old California native, Cathy Marcotte when she and her husband moved their family from Orange County to the northwoods of Minnesota.

"My husband is from Bemidji and we had a family," Marcotte said. "We wanted to move our kids to a smaller community than Orange County."

Marcotte has three children, the eldest of which -- Katrina, 15 -- instructs alongside her mother at First City as a student teacher.

As for Blackduck, Marcotte's interest in the community began with teaching Zumba aerobic fitness classes through the Blackduck Community Education program.

"I've been teaching Zumba in Blackduck for several years," she said. "It was then that I began to notice a lack of dance and fitness opportunities in the community."

Marcotte pondered opening a studio in the city for a number of years, but didn't make the decision to officially rent a location until the end of June.

"I saw a need for it," she said, matter-of-factly. "I do believe that it will be very successful and that it will be great for the community."

From the Grand Opening on Sept. 4 through the month of December, Marcotte will teach solo at the Blackduck studio but plans to employ staff down the road, depending on how the studio fares in its first year of operation.

"By January I'll know if it's going to fly and if I can create the environment I would like," she said.

Currently, the studio is rather bare bones, but it has everything Marcotte needs to get her new location off the ground. The former Hardware Hank has a display case for merchandise, a changing room for her students and a large back room where she plans to teach her classes.

"Eventually, I'll get stuff up on the walls," Marcotte said. "Right now, I just want to get things underway."

First City Blackduck will offer tap, jazz, ballet, hip hop musical theater and fitness classes to individuals and groups from 18 months of age to adult. The prices will also be a little less expensive in Blackduck starting at just $15 for Mommy and Me classes and $30 a month for Level I dance lessons. Marcotte also voiced her desire for the studio to play an active role and be a contributor to the community.

"I hope to do a Christmas show and have regular performances in the community," she said. "My philosophy is to teach a comprehensive and professional level of instruction focused on proper dance techniques in a fun and safe environment."