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may 2015

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www.discoversmithsfalls.ca

culture

spotlight on business:

to dream, to dance, to teach

SILOKI CENTRE Local laser tag business expansion proof of success in Smiths Falls

HANNA LANGE-CHENIER

SUBMITTED PHOTO

ALLISON GRAHAM Chelsea Gardnier was always an athletic child but very early on it became clear that ballet was her passion. She started dancing at the age of four in Perth and shortly after she was traveling to Westport, taking classes at the Rideau Lakes School of Dance. It was there, that she was encouraged by one of her teachers, Debra Lamothe, to audition for more prominent companies. After further training at The School Of Dance, in Ottawa, where she studied six days a week for over a two year period, Chelsea auditioned for The National Ballet School. She was accepted into their summer program and at the end of grade nine, moved to Toronto, lived in residence and began her professional training. “The competition was intense,” she said. “I went from being one of the strongest students at my local school to being at the bottom of the class in Toronto.” At the end of the summer, Chelsea was accepted into the year long program at that school. “You eat, sleep, train, do

everything as a family unit. Your best friends are also your competition.” After graduating, Chelsea traveled to Germany as a member of The National Ballet School for a joint performance with the Hamburg Ballet School and The Paris Opera Ballet School. This particular experience opened up a lot of opportunities to look elsewhere to dance. She decided to stay in Hamburg for the following four years, training at The Hamburg Ballet School and eventually joining The Hamburg Ballet Company, performing 120 shows a year and touring extensively across Europe. “In the ballet world, you live to push for success. As a dancer you’re always striving for more and that gets very tiring. I got burned out. I didn’t want a rest but I needed one,” she tells me. Chelsea returned home to Perth in 2008 and began exploring her faith; enroling in a one-year discipleship program and spending time with her family. “It was an adjustment - at one time being iden-

tified as ‘Chelsea the dancer’ to simply being, Chelsea,” she said. Without professional dance, she grew to understand her ‘self ’ better. Through time she accepted that she can be defined as an individual rather than by what she does. In 2010 she got married and she and her husband have two young children. Encouraged by her husband, Chelsea opened her own studio in 2014 called Redeemer Dance Academy. At present, most of the classes offered are traditional ballet. Eventually she plans to have a professional and recreational division and offer classes as diverse as contemporary, jazz, and hip-hop. There are also plans for a coffee bar and a store supplying dance wear. “Most of my students are fairly new to ballet. What I offer is encouragement; trying to bring out who they are, their passion and the dancer in them. But I also push them,” she says with a smile. For more information please visit, redeemerdanceacademy.ca

If you’ve ever taken a drive down Poonamalie Road, chances are you’ve seen the Siloki Centre. The large, cream-coloured all-purpose canvas building is hard to miss. And you might be surprised at how much activity fits inside. “At this facility here we offer birthday parties, from paint ball to laser tag; P.A. day camps, March break camps, and summer day camps,” says Richard Peskett, the owner. But Peskett is careful to stress that the business is a family effort. “We’ve been in business for five years now. It started up as a project for my kids and I to work together, and it grew from there,” he says. “Siloki actually stands for Sierra, Logan and Kira. It’s a family based business, all my children work with me and my wife,” he explains. The business originally started out offering travelling laser tag parties, and has since grown with the support of the community. The centre is unique to the area, and offers activities many would otherwise make the trip to Ottawa for. “We opened on the premise that we wanted to offer affordable entertainment to Smiths Falls. We were tired of travelling in to the city for everything, and we decided ‘why not bring

entertainment to Smiths Falls?’” he says. “From there it’s grown from a mobile business where we travel around with our laser tag, to semi-permanent where we shared a facility with a local karate club, and then to this permanent facility here.” Peskett is gearing up for this summer’s round of day camps, and the schedule is already packed and bursting with fun activities. Each week follows a different theme and promises lots of excitement for kids – ‘Choose Your Adventure’ week, Medieval week, Minion Madness week, and Space Adventure week are just a few of the theme options sure to please and engage kids. And Peskett says in addition to good old fashioned fun for campers, convenience and affordability for parents is also a priority. “There’s no extra charge for early drop off or late pick up. We have very flexible care. You can choose one day at a time, or you can choose weeks at a time, or you can choose a whole summer,” he says. “Because we understand that it’s not easy to find care if you’re a shift worker, or you might not want to commit to a full week, and we understand that.” In addition to purchasing the permanent facility two years ago, Peskett says the latest growth in the company has been a partnership

with another small company that helps offer bouncy castles and rock climbing walls. He says the decision to expand from offering mobile laser tag into also having a permanent facility was because of the positive reception the business has received from the community. “As the support of us grew, we knew the business had to go in a certain direction, and it was nice to be able to stay here in Smiths Falls and serve the community.” And the centre’s popularity with customers is proof that putting down roots in Smiths Falls was a success, and that the town appreciates the affordable entertainment. “Most of our weekends are packed solid, due to the fact that we try to offer a reasonable price for a quality product,” says Peskett. “We’ve kept everything at a reasonable cost. A lot of the time when you go to a party expecting to pay one price, you end up paying a lot more. All of our parties, you know what you’re paying before you come. There’s no surprise.” As summer is quickly approaching, Peskett says that day camps are already selling out, so it is best to register ahead of time. The centre is also looking to hire a chief adventurer to help with the camps. You can find all of the details online at www.siloki.com.

Discover Smiths Falls - Hometown News, May 2015  
Discover Smiths Falls - Hometown News, May 2015  
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