Ohio University

Factory Street Studio

A pillar of the Athens dance community celebrates 40 years 

Two people dancing
Students Ella Stricklen (left) and Norah Ice work on weight-sharing/partnering in the context of a technique-intensive exercises, with guidance from instructor Angelica Bell, artistic director of the Factory Street Studio.


Newspaper clippings and historical ephemera adorn the studio walls of Factory Street Studios in Athens.
Newspaper clippings and historical ephemera adorn the studio walls of Factory Street Studios in Athens. Photos by Daniel J. King

Shortly after Cita Strauss, BFA '77, MA '04, completed her degree in Dance in 1977, she teamed up with fellow OHIO grad Marina Walchli, BFA '77, MS '81, to take a leap of faith. Together they opened a dance studio in Athens: Court Street Studio. Four decades later, the studio became a non-profit organization, moved locations a few times, and changed its name to what it's known as today: Factory Street Studio.

In 2000, Strauss, after some twenty years as the studio's sole director, transitioned into an advisory role. Yet, through all the changes one element of the organization remained constant: Its commitment to remain a non-competitive dance studio with an emphasis on individual artistic expression. 

Factory Street’s strong connection to and collaboration with the College of Fine Arts' School of Dance continues, with professors teaching classes and studio participants filling the seats at School of Dance recitals and events. Strauss credits Director of the School of Dance Travis D. Gatling, Associate Professor of Dance Tresa Randall, and Professor of Piano, Composition, and General Studies in the School of Music (formerly with the School of Dance) André Gribou with providing tremendous support in the continuous building of that connection.  

Gatling, whose involvement with Factory Street Studio spans 20 years, supports the alignment between the School of Dance and the studio.

“I appreciate the focus of that particular studio and its curriculum because it runs parallel to what we do: Focus on the creative process through choreography, instilling the value of the individual artist, and developing the individual artistic voice in a noncompetitive environment.”  

“The story of Factory Street is happily bigger than I am," Strauss says. "I feel like the grandmother rather than the mother, being able to hand the child back after a wonderful day.”