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Dance/10 Welcomes New Owner

On Tuesday, August 1, ownership of Dance/10 Performing Arts Center, an Alameda institution for 40 years, passes from its founder, Pamm Drake, to Ryan Justus, an alumnus of the studio and its manager for the past 16 years.

Alameda Post - Ryan Justus and Pamm Drake in front of the Dance/10 studio
Ryan Justus and Pamm Drake in front of the Dance/10 studio on Santa Clara Avenue. Photo Al Wright.

Generations of Alameda youngsters and adults have studied all styles of dance and theater at the studio and have performed in festivals and competitions throughout California and around the world. And under Drake’s direction, the beloved Tap Dancing Christmas Trees have performed not just in Alameda but in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York and holiday parades in Palm Springs and Hollywood, as well as tree lighting ceremonies around the Bay Area. This is their 33rd year of bringing tappity-tap holiday joy to the world.

Dance/10 will continue as usual, specializing in ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, acrobatics, lyrical, and musical theater. The studio is famous for excellent technical training, professional experiences, travel, and a strong sense of community. Drake and her students would expect nothing less.

A veteran of the iconic Broadway musical “A Chorus Line,” Drake started Dance/10 in 1984 at the Alameda School of Dance. In 1998, she opened the Dance/10 Performing Arts Center in its current location on the corner of Santa Clara Avenue and Ninth Street, with an enrollment of 60 students and two enrolled in Nora’s Abille’s acrobatic class. Today, Dance/10 offers more than 80 classes a week and serves over 500 students. Dance/10 also offers fitness classes, including Zumba classes, which Alameda Post Health & Fitness writer Coach Denise has taught at the studio for ten years.

Looking back at the challenges and rewards of operating the studio, Drake mused: “Building this studio has been a labor of love. Dance has always been my passion, and having the opportunity to share that passion with so many students has been such a rewarding experience.”

A few years ago, she had thought about retiring, “but when the pandemic hit, I knew I just had to do everything I could to keep the studio active and meaningful for the kids, who were having their lives so curtailed,” she said. “We figured out how to keep the energy and the dance flowing, even if it had to be virtual. But now we are back to classes non-stop in our beautiful studio space, and I knew I could pass the reins to Ryan (Justus) at this time.”

Justus is a dancer, performer, and educator himself, as well as a former Teen Mister Dance of California, Drake noted. “He knows every detail of Dance/10’s mission and has been the brains behind the scenes,” she said. “He knows the teachers, the youngsters, their parents, our adult dancers, and he has a vision for the future. The studio will be in excellent hands.”

Justus, who has masters degrees in both theater arts and teaching, said, “Whenever I think of Dance/10, the first word that comes to mind is ‘community.’ There are so many memories and connections that I have made in being a part of the studio since 1990. Keeping our community together, vibrant, and dancing is paramount for me. Pamm’s mentorship and guidance have prepared me to continue driving the studio on its path and ensure that everyone is making memories that last a lifetime.”

Drake will continue to be a vital part of the studio, teaching some of her favorite classes, coordinating some performances, and, of course, managing and directing The Tap Dancing Christmas Trees. Stay tuned for a Dance/10 “Passing the Torch” celebration this fall.

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