By Janet Stoica
Saturday, August 4, looked like a typical rainy summer day until the wind picked up and an EF-1 tornado touched down in Webster and left its malicious mark on residents and businesses.
Kristen St. Laurent, owner of The Dancer’s Sole, located at 6 Main Street, was preparing for her customary “open house.” She sat at a reception table with her mom Ann Surprise, dance instructor Greta Pearson, and office assistant Laurie Mainville. The business’s large plate glass windows gave the group an unobstructed view of Main Street. They had received several phone calls from prospective dance students stating that they would attend the open house when the rainstorm subsided. Little did the four women know that in the next few minutes 110-mph winds would suddenly descend on their building and drive them to a basement refuge.
“My husband phoned and said he was aware of the tornado’s path and told us to get down to the basement right away. As I walked to the front door to lock it, the door suddenly flew open and strong wind, rain, and debris started flying into my dance studio,” said Ms. St. Laurent. “We ran down the basement stairs and found our way through two other rooms, locking each door behind us. We laid down inside a closet and secured that door too. We watched in scared silence as the wind rattled through the basement and shook our closet door. It was the most frightening experience.”
After the tornado’s demise, Kristen, her staff, and family saw that the building’s plate glass windows were blown out and the Dancer’s Sole first and second floor studios were totally ruined. She received phone calls from many local and very kind dance studio owners offering her the use of their facilities, but she soon found a temporary workplace in Oxford.
On Saturday, November 24, the dance studio officially re-opened at its original 6 Main Street location in Webster. “We’ve come back to life,” Kristen said, “and we’re glad to be back. Our students, staff, and my family are all glad to be back where we belong.”
The studio teaches ballet, tap, jazz, contemporary, point, and musical theater to students aged 2 – 18. Their hours are Monday-Thursday from 3:30-8:30 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. - noon. Phone: 508-949-1508. Email: [email protected]; www.TheDancersSole.comh