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Allegro Music & Dance Academy celebrates 55th year in Lockport

Allegro Music and Dance Academy co-owner Lori Gardner knows how to reach students at their level.

“Our customers tell us there is a vibe that’s very family-friendly and focused on the kids,” she said. “We feel that knowing the kids, their parents and the struggles they face not only in music lessons, but in all areas makes us a partner in making them caring, committed, responsible members of the community.”

In 2017, the Allegro Academy is celebrating its 55th year in Lockport. Gardner’s business partner, Tim Veurink said it’s an exciting time for them.

“Anything we can do to foster the arts is our mission,” he said. “Expanding the kind of things we do for families is our vision. Anything we can do to build up the arts community in Lockport is part of the dream we have here for Allegro.”

There are a number of new developments for people to watch out for in the coming weeks.

To account for the needs of people who might not be able to participate in Allegro Academy programming, the owners are forming a nonprofit organization called The Dream Big Performing Arts Foundation. The effort intends to make the performing arts more readily available to the community.

The owners are also in the middle of planning a grand reopening event to allow the community to see the new stage they have constructed.

“When my husband Tim bought the store, it was a one-story building,” Gardner said. “We’re now renovating the second story to include a dance studio and musical theatre space.”

Veurink first bought the property at 1014 S. Hamilton St. in 1992, at which time he ran it as a music store.

But the business’ history changed course in 2001 when she and Veurink decided to team up, Gardner said. Around that time, Gardner was working as a piano teacher about a half mile away from Veurink’s store.

Gardner said one day, they chose to stop competing for the same customer base and start working together.

Veurink said they often see students come to them looking for bigger performing arts opportunities, and it is their job to help create them.

“What we like to do is figure out what our students are interested in,” he said. “We actively dream about things and test them. It’s about being aware of what our students are interested in.”

In the past, the Allegro Academy has provided opportunities for students to perform at Carnegie Hall and the Taste of Chicago.

“I think from our perspective we feel our programs help build confidence, help them see success,” he said. “It helps them to learn they can do things, improve, expand on their efforts. It’s expressive in a way other things aren’t… It allows them also to show the world their thoughts, ideas in a demonstrative way.”

Veurink, noting that each new owner has put their own spin on the business when they set up shop, said it’s amazing to see how the academy has changed over the years and continues to benefit the community.

“Seeing our students succeed is our greatest accomplishment,” he said.

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