Salisbury Press

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Catasauqua Dance Hall opens

Wednesday, September 4, 2013 by The Press in Focus

The Gas House Dance Hall, 311 Front St., Catasauqua, holds a grand-opening event 6 - 9 p.m. Sept. 7 with music by The Ultra Kings, a Lehigh Valley rockabilly band.

Owners Robynn Shannon and Hannah Nour took their inspiration to name the studio from its former use as a gas station in the 1930s.

Nour, Artistic Director and co-owner, says the space is a dance class venue offering classes and workshops in Middle Eastern dance, swing and salsa with instruction in yoga, drumming classes and music.

After a stint touring the world with Miles Copeland's Bellydance Superstars, Nour's love of teaching led her to hold master classes throughout the Northeastern United States, including locations in the Valley.

Nour, a Valley native born Elizabeth Dimopoulos, studied ballet with Alexi Ramov at Ballet Guild of the Lehigh Valley and The Juilliard School Dance Division in New York. During her dancing career, Nour discovered a love for the folkloric quality of Middle Eastern dance.

While teaching for Jacques d'Amboise's National Dance Institute and Ballet Tech, and working in the New York garment district, she continued to study and perform. After auditioning successfully for the Bellydance Superstars, Nour went on to become known internationally.

Shannon, Managing Director and co-owner of The Gas House Dance Hall, has a graduate degree in Exercise Physiology and has been doing medical research for the past 10 years.

She fell in love with Middle Eastern Dance, not only because of her Syrian background, but for the challenging muscle isolation technique as well as the music.

Nour and Shannon formed a partnership earlier this year. "Robynn found this space with great potential," says Nour, "but it required a great deal of work to get it ready."

Among the renovations, the most important was constructing a proper sprung dance floor, which will ensure hours of comfortable dancing.

Nour and Shannon recognized the artistic and business renaissance happening in Catasauqua. Its central location and affordability of historic properties made it an ideal location to start a small business.

They join other female-owned businesses already established, such as Blondie's, a cupcake bakery; Flawless Design, a hair salon; and Julia's Four Seasons, a clothing consignment shop) to name a few.

"Catasauqua is an exciting place to be now," Nour and Shannon agree.