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New non-profit dance co-op for kids opening in Macon County

Written by Katie Smith

The Dance Arts Co-Op in Macon County was co-founded by Kelly Penland, Cedar Lannon, and Jada Bryson. If those names ring a bell, it’s because collectively these three women have quite a history of teaching dance in Western NC – collectively they have over 45 years of experience. With a mission to not only further dance education in the community, but to instill confidence, self-discipline, collaboration, and body and spatial awareness in students, this team of dance educators has combined forces to form The Dance Arts Co-Op, a non-profit company currently rehearsing in Cowee School. 

Lannon and Penland have collaborated often over the last 13 years since their first meeting at a magnet School for the Arts in St. Petersburg, FL, and Bryson first connected with the duo as Lannon’s student and then after she graduated from UNC-A. The three have long shared a similar vision of being able to give back to the community what has been given to them during their years of dance education. 

Now rehearsing at The Cowee School Arts and Heritage Center, classes are well underway and The Dance Arts Co-Op is set to perform a version of The Nutcracker at the Center on December 17, 18, and 19 of this year. This creative take on the classic version of a holiday favorite performance is appropriately named “A Cowee Nutcracker” and is set in 1943 when the school originally opened its doors. Attendees can expect 1940s-styled costuming and other elements from the period in this intimate and festive full-length production

In the Spring, The Dance Arts Co-Op is set to attend the JUMP dance competition and convention in Atlanta, GA, will host several master classes, and hold a recital for the community. Once they have a repertoire of performances at their fingertips, they hope to expand their performances to in-school presentations.

Currently, classes are held on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings for students ages 3-19 years old with offerings in ballet/pointe, tap, jazz, lyrical, and contemporary dance. The Dance Arts Co-Op also holds adult workshops in a variety of dance styles – the current series is in Tap and classes are on the 2nd and 4th Mondays of September, October, and November. 

If you are interested in learning more about classes, you can visit The Dance Arts Co-Op Facebook page or email

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