Yoga, ballet instructors join forces

New studio to cater to both disciplines


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From left, Heather McEwen, Alice Bassler Sullivan and Mary McCormick stand inside the new location for All Life Is Yoga and Eagle River Ballet. A wall with an unfinished paint job in the background shows renovations are ongoing.

STAR PHOTO BY MIKE NESPER

All Life Is Yoga owner and instructor Mary McCormick still remembers her first yoga class 15 years ago.

“It was 6 a.m. on a Tuesday. I loved it and I’ve never looked back,” she said last week standing inside of her studio’s new location in the rear of the Parkgate Building in Eagle River. Sharing the space will be the recently-created Eagle River Ballet.

McCormick and her husband, Bill, have spent the past six weeks renovating a former doctors office — which they acquired in June — into a yoga studio.

“All this was just a bunch of rooms,” said McCormick of the now open space.

What could have been a $40,000 project will likely only cost half because the McCormicks have done most of the work themselves. The couple has only enlisted a contractor for mud and taping.

“Me and my husband have done everything,” McCormick said.

She gives Bill most of the credit.

“My husband is amazing,” she said. “Everything he touches, he does a really great job.”

Finding space to rent in Eagle River is difficult, McCormick said, so when this space became available, she jumped on the opportunity.

McCormick, who opened her business in 2005, was working in a fast-paced environment as a buyer for Nordstrom when a manager introduced her to yoga. The exercise, aside from the physical benefit, teaches individuals to manage stress, McCormick said.

“Yoga should be for everyone,” she said. “It’s just great exercise.”

Installing heaters for hot yoga and a sound system and finishing the flooring are left to do, but McCormick is hoping to have the studio completed in a couple weeks.

“We are very excited to see the end getting close,” she said. “It’s very, very humbling, and it’s very exciting.”

Having a studio in Eagle River is something McCormick has always wanted to do.

“This is my dream,” she said. “This is a reflection of us, and we wanted it to be great.”

The space will be shared by a new business — Eagle River Ballet.

McCormick pitched the idea of sharing the space to her friend and former ballet dancer Heather McEwen.

“I thought ballet and yoga would be a beautiful combination,” McCormick said.

McEwen, who grew up in Peters Creek, is running the ballet studio with one of her former instructors, Alice Bassler Sullivan.

Eagle River Ballet will be a ballet-only program for beginners and intermediates ages 6 and older.

“We’re concentrating on the art form of ballet,” McEwen said.

“We really want to encourage adults to feel comfortable,” Sullivan added.

The duo saw a need for a ballet-specific program in Eagle River, and in June decided to start the business.

“The response has been good,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan and McEwen have a combined six decades of ballet experience.

Sullivan served as founding artistic director of Alaska Dance Theatre for more than 27 years. She teaches and choreographs for programs in Anchorage and across Alaska.

McEwen has more than 10 years of professional experience dancing with companies around the New York City area, including Eglevsky Ballet, Connecticut Ballet and Ballet New York.

Eagle River Ballet will hold three classes Mondays and Thursday beginning Sept. 8. Registration will be held Aug. 22 through Sept. 12 on Mondays and Thursdays from 4 to 6 p.m. at the studio. All first-time students must register in person.

Sullivan and McEwen said they’re eagerly waiting the first day of classes.

“Teaching is what I really love to do,” McEwen said. “I can’t wait to fill (the studio) with music and students.”

Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or mike.nesper@alaskastar.com

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