Amariah Gesinski can't imagine life without the fine arts.
Performing is all she has ever wanted to do – that and own a dance studio.
The latter dream came true when the North Platte native, or "Miss Mari" as she's known to her students, opened Encore Performing Arts Studios in Kearney. This year, she was able to expand the business, which offers training in dance, music and theater – all the things Gesinski has been enamored with since she was a child.
"Theatrical arts were always something I loved growing up," Gesinski said. "They took different forms over the years. Music and theater performance are huge passions of mine."
One of 10 children, Gesinski was homeschooled through high school. She remembers her mother surrounding their family with music and making sure it was a big part of her education.
North Platte native Amariah Gesinski teaches piano lessons to one of her music students.
Gesinski began taking piano lessons from her sister and singing in church programs at the age of 6. By the time she was 9, she was also taking dance lessons at the Dance Factory.
"Piano and vocals are my main instruments," said Gesinski. "Although, I have dabbled in some other areas as well."
After graduating from high school in 2010, she took a year off to travel to Italy where she taught music and Bible studies at a church.
Upon returning to North Platte, she hired on at what is now Legacy Dance Studio. Gesinski started the studio's ballet program and also taught jazz.
"I was given a lot of opportunities there to grow as a student as well as an instructor," Gesinski said. "The studio brought in a lot of outside instructors to teach master classes, and I did quite a bit of traveling to conventions."
Such an ideal work set up influenced her desire to stay close to home to pursue a higher education, which is why she enrolled at North Platte Community College.
"NPCC just made sense," Gesinski said. "The college had great music and theater programs, and the instructors developed me so much as a performer."
performs as a guest dancer at a concert at North Platte Community College in
Gesinski graduated from NPCC with an Associate of Arts degree. She continued working at Legacy and teaching piano lessons out of her home until 2016, at which time she felt called to something more.
"I always knew I wanted to have a studio of my own someday," said Gesinski. "There were already two in North Platte, so it made sense to find someplace new."
Her sister was in Kearney, and Gesinski and her husband, Josh, liked the area. They decided to take a chance and move there.
Relocating and launching Encore didn't automatically equal overnight success, however. Building the business up to what it is now took a lot of time and effort.
area that now houses Encore Performing Arts Studios in Kearney was completely
"I started from scratch," Amariah said. "I didn't have a staff initially. I was teaching all the classes by myself in the basement of my sister's church. That fall, I rented a fitness studio for a couple hours per week then worked my way up to renting it for a couple days per week."
Eventually, she was able to take over a suite in the fitness studio and offer a week's worth of classes. In February of this year, Amariah leased a building downtown that could accommodate her growing clientele as well as additional classes.
A music room at Encore
Completely remodeled, the 3,000-square-foot space features two dance studios, two music studios and a waiting area. Lessons in piano, voice, guitar, violin, band instruments and musical theater are available on one side while ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical and hip-hop are offered on the other.
"It's an incredible blessing from God," Amariah said. "I can't thank my husband and family [sons Artie and Darcy] enough for their support. I hope it serves as inspiration to my students and my own children that if there's something you want - it can be done. You just have to work for it."
Amariah Gesinski applies a vinyl sign to the new home of her Encore Performing Arts Studios in Kearney.
Encore is a performance-based studio rather than competition-based. Emphasis is put on the joy of creation and sharing the arts with others.
"I think the fine arts are essential in keeping us human," Amariah said. "We always say the arts minister to us so we can use the arts to minister to others. I think we're all students of the arts, and there are so many beautiful life lessons that can be gained from them. They don't just teach us to be good performers – they teach us to be good people, and that's the ultimate goal."
Patrons of Encore Performing Arts Studios watch a dance class in progress.
More information about Encore can be found online at encore.zohosites.com.