Posted: August 20, 2012. The Capital Gazette
By WENDI WINTERS, For Capital Gazette

Rohanna Dance Productions co-owner and artistic director Emily Martin with several of her students Thursday. From left, Broadneck High School sophomore Courtney Hinkle, 14, of Arnold; Magothy River Middle School eighth-grader Sara Vavrina, 12, of Arnold; Martin; and Broadneck High freshman Eszti Reilly, 13, of Cape St. Claire.

There are some changes afoot at the Jamal Bay 50 Shopping Center near the Whitehall neighborhood.

Jamie Rohanna founded the successful Rohanna Dance Productions eight years ago and built the studio, located at Jamal Bay 50, into a regionally renowned dance school. She recently decided to devote more of her time to reviving the fading art of tap dance. A few months ago, Jamie sold her thriving dance studio to one of her longtime instructors, Emily Martin, 23, of Glen Burnie, and Emily’s business partner, Barbara Martin.

At 16, Emily enrolled at Anne Arundel Community College and was a member of the college’s dance company led by director Lynda Plavin Fitzgerald. She also studied with the Kirov and Washington Ballet Companies in Washington, D.C. A professional dancer and certified Pilates instructor, Emily is a former member of the Manhattan-based dance company Pushing Progress. For over six years, she has taught classes at Rohanna, even commuting back and forth from New York City during the period she performed with Pushing Progress. Although she returned to Anne Arundel County permanently in 2009 to be closer to her family, Emily still shuttles regularly to New York City to continue her own training and keep abreast with trends in dance instruction.

Barbara is not a dancer, but has been a part of the dance world through Emily. A Realtor in the Annapolis office of Caldwell Banker, she is Rohanna’s business manager.

“Owning a dance studio was one of my dreams,” said Emily. “I love the goals Jamie Rohanna set for the students here and I couldn’t think of a better thing to do.”

Late last week, the spacious dance school was buzzing with dozens of young dancers. All the studios were filled with students enrolled in dance courses led by a troupe instructors from Pushing Progress. “They’re all camping out at a friend’s house this week,” Emily said.

Rohanna has a slate of qualified instructors with Dance degrees and professional dance backgrounds, Emily said. The studio will be increasing its ballet offerings this fall, and continues to offer classes in tap, lyrical, acrobatics and tumbling and a hip hop. For the third year, the studio is offering a weekly special needs dance class.

“It is so rewarding at the end of the year to see those dancers up onstage,” Emily said.

The studio also has a new look. The Cape Hair Scene and Barber Shop, located next to Rohanna for six years, returned to the Cape St. Claire shopping center. The Martins took over the vacant space.

Thinking outside the barre, they turned part of the former barber shop and salon into an expanded lobby and reception area. Tucked behind the lobby they installed a studio space and a small cafeteria.

The Martins’ goal, Emily said, “is to create an atmosphere where our dance students can go to college, and, afterwards, dance professionally.”

Drop by Rohanna Saturday to meet Emily and Barbara. The mother-daughter duo is hosting an open house from 1 to 4 p.m. with goodies from Caroline’s Gourmet Catering. Meet the instructors, view dance demonstrations by current students and, if you register for a course, receive a $10 discount. For more information about Rohanna Dance Productions, visit

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