Are you longing to unleash your wild, creative side? Are you itching to dance freely and enthusiastically? Are you ready to connect with yourself and others and discover new forms of joy? Then The Hive, an art and movement studio in Centralia, embraces and welcomes you.

The Hive Centralia
A long-time artist and dancer of Nia, Blair is focused on one mission. “My life purpose is to empower joy. It’s where I do my best,” said Blair. Photo courtesy: Mandi McDougall Photography

Empowering Joy with Anne Blair

Established in 2022, downtown Centralia’s small art and movement center is a true hub of activity and expression. With a plethora of classes taught by passionate instructors, there’s undoubtedly something to fulfill your creative and movement needs. Whether it’s learning how to sketch or learning the eccentric, the unpredictable practice of blob art, smiling your way through a Nia or belly dance class, or toning up with yoga or Pilates, there’s something on the schedule to make you feel lighter and invigorated.

For owner Anne Blair, the ultimate reward in operating the studio is seeing guests leave feeling happy and empowered. “People walk out a bit giddy — whether they’ve been coming for the whole year or not. It’s the best bonus,” said Blair.

The idea of a co-op studio was born in the depths of the pandemic, where Blair, among many others, felt an overwhelming sense of sadness, anger, and isolation. Having previously volunteered at her children’s schools and helping fund activities for playground supplies, Blair desired another way to bring joy to the community and give people a space to feel safe and welcome.

After finding the space on Pear Street, formerly a hearing aid factory (with the added bonus of fantastic acoustics), The Hive was formed. With a beautiful studio space, Blair opened the door to collaborating with other artists and creating a team environment.

“That’s why I like the notion of a ‘hive,’” said Blair. “Everybody comes in, and there’s a lot of activity. Everybody does their own thing really well.”

The Hive Centralia
The Hive team is a collaboration of local artists, dancers, and creative minds. “The people who started with me are some of the most fantastic people. It’s easy to be enthusiastic about it,” said owner Anne Blair. Photo courtesy: Mandi McDougall Photography

The Hive Brings Empowerment Through Dance

For belly dance instructor, and lifelong dance student, Vanessa Nixon, joining The Hive is a way to empower women and create a safe sense of community. In the rural communities of Southwest Washington, few opportunities for creative dance, let alone belly dance, are available. Fortunately, Nixon is passionate about sharing this art form with others and teaches twice-weekly classes at The Hive.

“Creativity is a fundamental part of who we are as human beings,” said Nixon. “To have a safe place to express your own creative energy is something that’s lacking, but is something that is essential.”

Although Nixon grew up learning various dance forms, she came into belly dancing in her 20s and has been in love ever since. Although Nixon cites it as the “most challenging form of dance” she’s ever done, she also believes it is the best dance workout.

“It’s the form that felt most natural in my body. It’s super empowering,” said Nixon. “Everybody in my classes had that same experience of feeling more confident and feeling like they could be themselves and move the way their body wanted to.”

Moving away from the traditional “mechanical exercise” model of a standard gym, The Hive is designed with creative and playful movement in mind.

“Goofing around is more important than we realized,” said Blair. “ COVID reminded us of the importance of joy in what you’re doing. Joy makes you more likely to do it.”

Dancers can enjoy a wide range of movement within the studio several times per week. Curious dancers can explore the empowering art of belly dance, vibrant Ecstatic Dance, Nia, Pilates, and yoga, or even have their little ones join in for Parent and Tot Creative Movement or Mommy and Me Belly Dance.

The Hive Centralia
The Hive hosts several monthly workshops to inspire artists, both new and experienced. “All levels are welcome, all the time,” says resident artist Sandi Randall. Photo courtesy: The Hive

Empowering Artists at The Hive

Although Sandi Randall got her creative start with dancing and teaching Nia, her newfound confidence,  curiosity and creativity led her to fine arts and eventually teaching art workshops. At The Hive, she teaches classic Nia, Moving to Heal, and specialized art classes.

“Moving to Heal is a slowed-down version of Nia,” said Randall. “ It invites participants to listen to their bodies and to pay attention to signals of pain and pleasure. The goal is to always move away from pain. By moving your body, you come away feeling better.”

In her art classes, particularly her Blob Art classes, Randall emphasizes that we are all learners and art is not a competition. All newcomers are encouraged, and everyone is part of the community. This sense of support and freedom is crucial for Randall, in addition to enjoying the process and being delightfully surprised by the product.

“It’s awesome to create something and say, ‘ Yeah, I made that. It’s not perfect, and that’s okay. It was fun, and I learned something!” said Randall.

Focusing on a holistic model, The Hive concentrates not only on the state of the body and mind but also on the spirit. “What you can find here is joy in your mind and joy in your body,” said Blair.

The Hive Empowers Creators

A true community gathering, The Hive employs both resident artists and visiting artists (for workshops.) Whether it’s watercolors, sketching, self-care, fiber arts, dance, or any other art and movement form, Blair has the ultimate dream of filling up the space with creators sharing their love.

“If you have a secret talent, consider becoming a teacher,” says Blair. “It’s an amazing share to give that to someone else.”

Empowering Yourself at The Hive

Undoubtedly, being a part of The Hive will bring you a sense of joy and belonging you won’t find anywhere else. Although it can be hard to prioritize “me-time” in a world that constantly wants us to give, Blair cannot emphasize enough the importance of finding that space just for yourself.

“If it’s just a small slice for you, that’s just for you and all about you, and you get just a little (or big) thing out of it — that’s priceless,” said Blair.

The Hive
114 W. Pear Street, Centralia

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