Performing arts center/preschool opening

Robyn Wallwork at the new Best Foot Forward performing arts preschool at 132 W. 14th St. Wallwork integrates dance and music lessons into the preschool’s curriculum to accomodate additional learning styles. Courtesy of Robyn Wallwork.

Robyn Wallwork began building her performing arts center and preschool in June, but the project was a long time coming. 

Wallwork has spent more than 30 years teaching song and dance to children.

She moved from Maryland to Idaho Falls last year to start Best Foot Forward Performing Arts with her daughter, Katie Hildreth.

The new facilities will host performing arts, fitness and preschool classes starting in mid-January. Preschool classes will include music and dance elements, which Wallwork said are integral to accommodating different learning styles among children.

“Preschool is great for children in itself, but there’s so much more you can do to enhance that learning and make more connections,” Wallwork said. “When you combine performing arts with the academics, you provide a more complete education for the child.”

Wallwork previously owned and directed dance studios in Utah and Arizona.

Upon returning to Maryland from a teaching stint in Cambodia, she decided to earn an associate degree in early childhood education then open another studio and her first preschool.

“Working overseas I feel like my whole perspective has gone global,” Wallwork said. “There’s so much we have in common and can appreciate — what better way through other cultures’ music and dance?”

Nothing fell into place with the Maryland center, so Wallwork eventually decided to open it in Idaho Falls, where Hildreth, also experienced in dance, had lived for nine years.

“We didn’t know if we wanted to come into a really cold environment, but we believe the Lord directs you, and we felt inspired to come and include my daughter,” she said.

Wallwork assumed general contractor duties in August for the new studio and preschool, both at 132 W. 14th St.

The preschool features bright yellow walls, as well as colorful furniture and toys. The 1,000-square-foot studio, meanwhile, has abundant overhead lighting and room to move.

Several dozen children have already enrolled in performing arts classes at a temporary studio at the former Melaleuca building on Yellowstone Avenue. Two productions were held last month: a Christmas pageant and Charles Dickens one-man-act.

The new studio will host a variety of musical theater, dance and music classes. Wallwork is accepting enrollment for toddlers, children and teens.

Performing arts classes vary in price from $37 to $65 per month, while dance classes range from $15 to $52 per month.

Though she taught up to 210 students per week in Cambodia, Wallwork said she wants to keep Best Foot Forward classes to 12 students or under.

“We’d like to keep things on a smaller level, more intimate as far as performances. We’re not going after the world; we’re going after quality,” she said.

The preschool, which will include curriculum with daily performing arts activities, is for children ages 3 to 5. Tuition is $100 to $150 per month. Wallwork said discounted preschool rates will be offered through January, and parents are welcome to tour the classroom.

Two preschool classes, also with a maximum of 12 children each, will be held throughout the week.

“This preschool is going to provide children, just like any other, a transition into kindergarten,” Wallwork said. “The kids are like a sponge at that age; they can really start to develop their creativity and connections to the world.”

Fitness classes, including for seniors, also are expected to begin in February. Courses include focuses on cardio, stretching, exercise balls, step aerobics and chair fitness.

After years of anticipation, Wallwork is excited to see her dream come to fruition.

“As soon as all the construction is done, I’m going to be in heaven,” she said. “We’ve begun small, but we’re moving along. I have confidence in my abilities to get this going because it’s what I’ve done for years.”

Reporter Kevin Trevellyan can be reached at 208-542-6762.