Humble Alaskan Beginnings To A Beloved Seattle Institution

Elizabeth Chayer, founder of the American Dance Institute, on opening day of her first dance studio in Seattle's Greenwood neighborhood 1991.

Elizabeth Chayer, founder of the American Dance Institute, on opening day of her first dance studio in Seattle's Greenwood neighborhood 1991.

Elizabeth Chayer opened American Dance Institute in Anchorage, Alaska in 1986 as an outreach program that taught dance in day care centers, preschools and community centers. She, and husband Steve, moved to Seattle in 1989 and Elizabeth started American Dance Institute Seattle that same year. For three years she managed both locations before focusing all efforts on her fast-growing Seattle operation.

The Phinney Ridge Community Center was her first class room studio and she quickly built enrollment to 60 students. Sensing a real need for her style and approach to teaching, she leased the corner space at 8001 Greenwood Avenue North.

Longtime Greenwood dance teacher, Verla Flowers, was retiring, and Elizabeth purchased her student mailing list. Verla was the first dance teacher of now world famous contemporary dance choreographer Mark Morris. 

Appreciating that location is everything in business, she took the plunge and leased the busy, visible, and expensive corner space at the intersection of 80th & Greenwood. With the help of her parents, who flew in from New York,  Steve, and their long-time friends Kim Hartman and Maryl Marx, the space was remodeled into a state-of-the art dance studio.

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