MORRISVILLE — Maia Wirth was a standout teacher in the Wake County school system with a Teacher of the Year award under her belt when she decided to pursue her passion and strike out on her own.
It was terrifying, Wirth said of her resolve to open a community arts studio. Everybody thought I was crazy, but I was working two jobs as a teacher, and it was time for all of my energy to be in one place. I had to take the leap.
With a desire to share dance, music and yoga, Wirth opened Open Arts on Aug. 10. Classes range from traditional ballet, jazz and tap to yoga for ages 18 months to adults.
Wirth said Open Arts is unique in that it is not competition-based or a conservatory setting.
The first question I often get is, Do you have a class for someone who has absolutely no experience? Wirth said.
The answer is a resounding yes.
Everybody can and should have experience in the arts, she said. We are focused on getting beginners in. We want everyone to believe in the magic and power of yoga and the arts.
Wirth, who discovered yoga several years ago, is certified to teach the art to children. She refers to the studio as an incubator for baby yogis and dancers.
As enrollment increases, classes will be tailored to demand. A boys-only class grew out of concerns that stigma was holding boys back.
Some boys find it impossible to truly be themselves and learn dance in a class with girls, Wirth said. We provide a safe place for them to learn. Some of the greatest dancers and most prolific composers are men.
Open Arts has a mission to be community-based. Performances are planned for area nursing homes and, Wirth hopes, eventually the schools. I cant wait for the day when I get to go back into the classroom and teach them.
On Oct. 19, Open Arts will have a donation-only day with one-time classes and workshops. All the money raised will be given to a local charity. The commitment to give back has been fueled by town support.
I fell in love with Morrisville, Wirth said. It is geographically small but forward moving and thinking. ... The (Morrisville Chamber of Commerce) has been phenomenal.
Wirth knows that not every family has the means to pay for dance lessons. She instituted Kids Night Out to give everyone an opportunity for exposure to arts and to give parents a little time off. Children can show up in pajamas and be treated to zumba, a movie, pizza and relaxation techniques.
Being part of a dance studio is not always financially feasible, but they can have a taste of it with Kids Night Out, Wirth said. I want to meet the needs of everybody, not just those on a professional track. Its not about who has the highest kick. Everyone has something to offer.