Fun for All at The Block Collaborative
Looking for some indoor fun for the whole family during these snowy days? The Block Collaborative provides a variety of fun options.
Acceptance, freedom and love are the ideas that siblings and co-owners Anthony and Brenda Bounphakhom hope to bring to their new community space The Block Collaborative.
“In terms of the vision of the business, the mission is always going to be the same. It’s just accept others, love others and love art, and just be able to captivate that ‘be free’ feeling and give people options,” Anthony says.
The first thing you notice upon entering The Block is the constantly-evolving art on view in the front lobby. Currently, it is a homemade cloud display. They recently had “Frozen in Time,” made up of strings of lights with Polaroid photos attached.
Colorful lights, inspirational quotes and upbeat music complement the many studio rooms of The Block, hoping to inspire creativity in all who enter. Whether it’s a small business that’s putting on a pop-up shop, or a project with another local dancer or high school sports team, community collaboration is a big part of the Bounphakhoms’ mission.
“We’re not a dance studio — we’re an art studio. We want people to come in and we want people to feel like they can be free. That was huge for us — we want to captivate the love for artists and art and people in general in here,” Anthony says. “I want to create a business that’s sustainable, but it needs to be authentic.”
Anthony has a background in dance and choreography, and Brenda is currently in school while working at The Block. Both siblings have infectiously positive attitudes, and are clearly passionate about the space they’ve created.
Current programs offered include creative movement, contemporary, tumbling, stepping, community classes and more. They offer classes directed toward all age groups — including children, teens and adults. While much of what is currently offered is dance and movement-related, Anthony emphasized that The Block is an art studio. In the future, the siblings hope to bring in videographers, photographers and maybe even fitness classes. They want to represent other businesses within their company, and hope to help people network and make new connections within the community.
“We’re really all about just bringing the community together and collaborating with other people. We’re here for people to come in, to feel welcome and just to be there for everyone,” Brenda says.
In addition to classes, The Block hosts other events, often spotlighting local artists in a COVID-safe environment. Recently, Brenda hosted “Self-care Sunday,” a calming event with yoga, manicures, facials and other activities. They also had a “Fam Jam,” an event for kids and parents alike — “a class to move and groove with your kids.”
During The Block’s opening week in October of 2020, they had 20 kids sign up for classes, but that number quickly grew to 90. The Block’s logo itself is meant to symbolize an open door. As opposed to a traditional studio with many commitments, Anthony emphasizes that you’re able to come and go. Flexibility was important when designing the structure of The Block — students can sign up for a class for the whole semester, or they can change their schedule week to week.
The entire space was decorated by friends and family, supported by donations from the community and “The Block family,” such as a kitchenette where Brenda has recently hosted cooking classes.
The Block outlines the steps they are taking to ensure COVID-19 safety, including mask-wearing at all times, social distancing, sanitizing and cleaning between classes, and a step-by-step guide for your time at The Block, from the moment you arrive.
In addition to the community they’ve already built, the siblings are excited for the possibilities at The Block after the pandemic is over.
During the week of February 22, The Block will be offering free classes all week including development, class pass, specialty and adult classes. Spots must be reserved ahead of time for their first annual “Real Open House.”
Many studio rooms make up The Block, including three that can be rented out — the front studio, the back room and the art room.
Open Monday through Friday, The Block offers classes throughout the afternoon and evening for a variety of different recommended age ranges, from 5-7 to adult/advanced. The Block is located at 2800 Lafayette Rd. in Portsmouth.
Their mission statement: “The mission is to help express one’s unconditional love in a style of art to help unite and grow the community. Classes of many different kinds of art, mainly dance will be provided. Currently, recruiting students who have the love, and create a safe space for students to express and learn their favorite style of art such as dance.”