Owner Sue Warter, a longtime Woodinville area resident, has had a love of dance since she was three.
Her mother enrolled her in her first ballet class at Verla Flowers Dance Arts in Seattle and from then on, dance was an important part of her life.
In addition to ballet, her training included pointe, jazz, Hawaiian and Tahitian dance.
As a physical education major at UW, she continued taking classes in ballet and modern dance. Later, when she became a mother herself, Warter wanted to share her joy of dance with her daughters, Shauna and Beth.
In 1987, she opened Studio I in Maltby and after five years, she moved the dance center to its current location in Woodinville’s Woodgate Mall.
“When Sue opened her studio in Woodinville, it was really the only place in the area for dance training,” says Warter’s husband, Brad. “It wasn’t easy being a businesswoman at that time and she took a risk, but it was something she really wanted to do. She pursued her dream and she made it come true.”
The studio has expanded over the years and now offers a variety of dance genres from ballet to hip hop, as well as a competitive dance team which competes in regional and national events.
It also performs in benefit shows and participates in workshops with the goal of preparing students for dance experiences outside of the studio atmosphere.
“My wife loves teaching,” comments Brad. “She enjoys being around the kids and watching them aspire, advance and improve. A number of the students have actually gone on to make dance their career, studying at Cornish College for the Arts, appearing in movies and TV shows and dancing in professional companies.”
Warter’s daughter Beth Ith, who is now co-director of Studio I, explains that her mom is a very loving, yet disciplined teacher.
“She loves her younger students like grandchildren, but also has a firm structured class so that the children are listening and following directions,” says Ith. “She teaches the youngest ages at our studio, the 3 year olds, and it takes the most patience to teach that class. But she is amazing at it!”
Ith notes that her own dance training began at age two.
“My mom introduced me to dance and showed me that with hard work and dedication you can achieve your dreams,” she adds. “My mom was my dance teacher for many years and I was able to absorb great teaching techniques from her that I use today in my own dance room.”
In describing the type of environment Studio I strives to create, Ith comments that the goal is to make students feel like a part of a family. “We pride ourselves on our personal connections inside and outside the dance room,” she explains. “Since we are a family owned and directed studio, we do our best to schedule classes and recital commitments with all family members in mind. We have a dedicated faculty that all love educating young dancers and watching them grow year after year.”
Ith adds that the relationships made with the students last long after they have graduated high school.
She says that it gives her mother such pleasure to see students she has taught return with children of their own to enroll them in dance classes.
It’s also important to note Studio I’s commitment to the community, as it has been a steadfast supporter of local PTAs and citywide events and activities, including its annual participation in Woodinville’s All Fool’s Day Parade. “Being civic-minded is very important to Sue,” remarks Brad. “She tries to give back as much as she can to the community, as it has given her so much over the years.”