Hobbies can be difficult to pursue. Work and real world lives are so time-consuming that discovering an interest on the side can seem like an exhausting idea. However, people who don’t pursue hobbies can miss out on an opportunity for personal growth, social interaction and a time out from everyday life.
This is where The Rhody Center comes in. Located on Exchange St in Pawtucket, it offers a plethora of options to choose from and a supportive staff that will help guide you in the right direction.
Owner Julie Raimondi is a lifelong student of music, studying and playing in various world music ensembles at URI, Tufts University and UCLA. Spending three years living in New Orleans only expanded her musical palate. Once back in Rhode Island, she pulled the trigger on an endeavor she’s wanted to do for awhile and opened The Center in 2013.
“I wanted to be able to offer a taste of the kinds of experiences I was fortunate enough to have had,” Raimondi says. “Or at least provide instruction in a welcoming environment whose spirit echoes the all-inclusive nature of many community-based musical practices found around the world.”
The Rhody Center has a lot to offer, with classes that are based on customer demand and teacher availability. While there are private lessons for various instruments, it’s the group classes that are most intriguing. Each group class — some are dance and others are music — runs in sessions that range from three to eight weeks depending on the course. Class sizes are small and diverse, which gives the teachers a true knowledge and understanding of who the students are and their individual capabilities.
The strength of The Rhody Center lies in its staff. A quick read through the instructor bios shows how talented they are. Instructors come from all over the world and all are more than accomplished at their craft.
“The Rhody Center is fortunate to have some of the best teachers in the area,” Raimondi rightfully brags. “They represent a diverse array of dance and music backgrounds, and all are dedicated to their craft. Finding the right teachers is pretty much the most important part.”
The Rhody Center gives students new ways to connect with other people, make new friends and express themselves through dance or music. The atmosphere is loose and non-competitive, letting the individual develop at their own pace.
“What it boils down to is joy,” Raimondi declares. “It’s about obtaining new skills and maybe even reducing some stress through a healthy outlet. I want to be able to provide accessible, beginner-friendly opportunities for the public to participate in and get all the benefits music and dance bring to our lives.”
The Rhody Center gives back to their loyal fan base by offering a rewards and referral program. They also give back to the community through their nonprofit arm. Through donations and a grant from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, a donation-based steel drum ensemble is offered for adults and one for youth that is free. Raimondi is hoping to expand these offerings, bringing more special events, more workshops and more performances to the community.
Raimondi has built a community with The Rhody Center. She has assembled a unique and talented group of teachers and matched them with a diverse and eager group of students who want to learn, grow and have fun in the process.
“The best part is to watch the community grow and to hear how music and dance has enriched our customers’ lives,” she proudly says. “I’m doing this because I love it. Sometimes I forget that the original Rhody Center is a business at all. It seems more like a collection of friends.”
The Rhody Center for World Music and Dance is located at 172 Exchange St #201 in Pawtucket, RI 02860. Please call 401-475-5955 for more information, or check out their website: therhodycenter.org.