2013-03-15 / Business

Zumba will return to York Street space

By Alex Acquisto
Staff writer

Joyce Bagshaw of Kennebunk is set to reopen the Zumba studio, formerly known as Pura Vida. Now named Danceworks, classes will begin the third week of March. (Alex Acquisto photo) Joyce Bagshaw of Kennebunk is set to reopen the Zumba studio, formerly known as Pura Vida. Now named Danceworks, classes will begin the third week of March. (Alex Acquisto photo) In the wake of the alleged prostitution scandal at Pura Vida Studio, most would surely find it hard to believe the now notorious dance space would ever house Zumba classes again.

Joyce Bagshaw is not most people. A Zumba instructor since 2010 and former colleague of Wright’s, she has big plans to resuscitate the space.

Earlier this month, Mark Strong of Thomaston was charged with 12 counts of promoting prostitution. His alleged accomplice, Alexis Wright, ran the operation out of Pura Vida studio. Subsequently shut down after the scandal surfaced, the space was left unoccupied. Bagshaw saw an opportunity and seized it. The new and improved studio, renamed Danceworks, will reopen under Bagshaw’s tutelage this week.

Her mission statement: To provide a positive environment for both instructor and student alike in the pursuit of dance and dance fitness.

When asked about the possibility of swarming criticism Bagshaw responded with surprising aplomb: “I’m just making the most of this situation. I’m actually scared to death,” she admitted, “but only for normal business reasons — will I be able to pay the rent, will enough people attend classes, things like that.”

The studio consists primarily of an open room with recently installed multi-layer bamboo floors expansive enough to fit a 50-person class and “perfect for Zumba, which tends to be hard on the knees,” Bagshaw said. Lined on one side by mirrors that look out onto York Street, the studio receives flawless natural light.

Looking around, Bagshaw gestured while she spoke. “The amount of money that went in to making this space what it is today is significant. I don’t have that kind of funding to do this again somewhere else. And honestly, using this space for anything else would be a waste.”

Once she signed the lease, Bagshaw said she received full support from the citizens of Kennebunk.

“What I’ve encountered is really good will; everybody is just ready to move on,” she said.

According to Bagshaw, a number of younger Zumba instructors are becoming progressively outraged at the word’s rampant coupling with prostitution, yet she doesn’t seem fazed. “I’m not nervous about telling people about the location of my studio. If anything, I knew coming into this that I wouldn’t have to advertise as much because of all of the market recognition,” she said. “The name Zumba got dragged through the mud, but the real aficionados aren’t going to let that stop them. Zumba is a social hour, a positive pursuit, and the people who know this, they’re the ones that are going to come back.”

When, exactly can one come back? Friday, March 15, for the free, open-to-the-public event, Just Dance, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

Bagshaw likens it to an open mic night for instructors who wish to “stop in and lead a song or two.” The event will henceforth occur every Friday evening in addition to the regular schedule — at least one class offered every day of the week. And Bagshaw’s scope of appeal is wide-reaching.

“I want to offer Zumbatomics for kids under 13, and Zumba Gold for the elderly — I would like to get some of the local nursing homes in here; this space has incredible access for wheelchairs.”

The Zumba organization offers continuing education courses for certified instructors such as Bagshaw. Danceworks will host Zumba Pro Skills on June 2. In addition to Zumba, Bagshaw is also hoping to offer dance styles ranging from salsa to belly dancing to Capoeira, a Brazilian dance-martial arts hybrid. “I’m getting emails daily from people telling me they can’t wait to join a class or try it for the first time.”

The scandal, despite casting a negative light on the exercise, does not threaten Bagshaw.

“What’s that quote? ‘If you’re not living on the edge you’re taking up too much room?’ And I really am. Honestly.”

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