Downtown Dreams

Beginning today, the Chautauqua Regional Youth Ballet will be located on the third floor of the Willow Bay Commerce Center.

After 15 years of providing area residents a place to practice classical dance, the CRYB has found a new home in downtown Jamestown.

According to Elizabeth Bush, CRYB executive director, the organization had been considering a move for some time, but the right opportunity hadn’t presented itself until the Willow Bay was renovated and reopened.

“We wanted to be downtown because we perform at the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts and we wanted to be closer to and more active as part of the arts hub,” Bush said. “There’s a lot more we can offer as far as outreach, classes, programming and productions – we’d like to become more of a community resource.”

Monika Alch, CRYB artistic director, feels that after 15 years of hard work, the CRYB has finally landed where it should be. But, there’s also a bit of sadness and bittersweet emotion involved with leaving the former location on Falconer Street behind the Sheldon House.

“That’s where I started 15 years ago, and we built that school – but you can’t beat this new space,” Alch said. “The old studio served us well for a long time.”

“It was a beautiful spot with the Sheldon House, but I feel that nobody really knew where we were,” Alch continued.

With two studios instead of the single one at the former location, the CRYB will now be able to host both classes and rehearsals at the same time, which will increase the number of students able to participate in the program. It will also allow rehearsal and instruction to be held earlier in the day as opposed to late in the afternoon or evening. And, there is more space for dressing rooms for both females and males.

“It’s going to be beneficial for the students because I think it’s going to give them a greater feeling of professionalism,” Alch said.

The move will also be beneficial to the staff, parents and volunteers, as a faculty type lounge will be added. Plans for a lobby and a receptionist are also in the works. Plus, Bush’s office now has windows and nearly quadrupled in size.

According to Bush, the move was in excess of about $40,000, and as a nonprofit the CRYB never would have been able to afford it without support. So, the move was made possible through grants from the Gebbie Foundation, Sheldon Foundation and the Department of Development at City Hall. But, it also wouldn’t have been possible without the countless number of volunteers who offered their time.

“We’re very grateful,” Bush said.

Jordan Spencer, general manager and co-owner of the Willow Bay Commerce Center, is a not only a board member of the CRYB, but he also participated in the program. So, he is really excited that the CRYB will now be housed within the walls of the Willow Bay, he said.

“What I’m most excited about is the natural synergy between the ballet and the theater upstairs – the potential is endless,” Spencer said. “It’s nice to be able to help them expand and grow within the area. But, we’re also looking forward to the exposure it will bring to the Willow Bay property, as well as other businesses and restaurants around it.”

The Chautauqua Regional Youth Ballet is now located on the third floor of the Willow Bay Commerce Center, 21 E. Third St. in Jamestown. For more information, call 664-9766 or visit