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Local dance teacher purchases historic Apollo Lodge for dance studio

Updated: Sep 9, 2021 June 3, 2021 @ 1:40pm

Local dance teacher Jamie Wahl, owner of JD’s Academy of Dance - Synergy, purchases a piece of Stettler history for the location of her dance studio.

The Apollo Lodge #27 has sat empty for a little over 2 years. Dwindling membership, and even fewer active members, brought the closure of the lodge which was once home to one of the most well-known and impressive lodges on the Alberta roster.

Jamie Wahl, who has been teaching dance for twenty-four years, started teaching at the Halkirk Hall when she was 19 years old. She knew a lot about dance, but very little about business. She says the people in Halkirk were wonderful and helped her out as much as they could. When the 12 students she started with eventually started moving on, and the population of the area made it hard to fill the roster, she started teaching in Stettler as well and eventually moved here full-time.

“I had a humble start, but a wonderful start.” - Jamie Wahl

Taking possession at the end of May, Wahl and her helpers have been busy tearing up carpet, and cleaning the building. Large areas of the carpet gave way to original hardwood, much of which she hopes to preserve, or at least incorporate into her renovations. She’s eager to make the space hers, but hopes to have small glimpses into the building's origins as a sign of respect.

She explains it was a bit nerve racking when they were having the place tested for asbestos, but were more than happy to find that not only was none found, but no signs of anything asbestos-made was ever used in the 88 year-old building. A building so old, that some of the plaster in the walls is comprised of horse hairs. The museum was invited through and collected several photos documenting the lodge’s history, but before that a former member of the lodge walked Wahl through the photos, explaining some of the events depicted.

Wahl says it’s been a hard couple of years as a dance instructor. She is amazed by her students and their resiliency. She reflects on the ZOOM classes held during shutdowns, where students would sign on and try to mimic the moves and routines the best they could in often small areas. She smiles on one good thing she can say about COVID, is that the students have really come together and the team building and bonding of her class has been incredible to watch.

Wahl hopes to be able to help others and give back to the community that has done so much for her. Although she plans to convert the main floor and basement into 2 dance studios, she hopes that she can do so in a way that allows her to rent out the open space to small groups who need it from time to time. She says it was what people did for her, and hopes she can do the same for others.

“I would love to leave a legacy of kindness…” Jamie Wahl

Wahl is hoping the new location will be ready for the students for September classes.

Carson Ellis, Reporter


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