Dance to acupuncture: Delaware House focuses on wellness

June 13, 2007

Last year, when The Cutting Table announced it would be closing its doors, there was a lot of talk about what might eventually fill the void. Given the history of the space, as well as all of the hard work that the Glaspeys put into its expansion a few years back, it was clear residents wanted something that would reflect both the needs and the unique ambiance of Bay View.

It appears wishes do come true, as the new occupants of the space embody those qualities.

Delaware House is a collective of holistic and wellness-oriented community programs housed under one roof. Kathy and Kevin Howell, a pair of longtime Bay View residents, are the owners and caretakers of the building. However, portions of the space are leased out to health-oriented businesses, including a yoga studio, a dance studio and an acupuncturist. In that way, it is similar to another landmark, The Hide House, which leases out space to thematically similar businesses.

"Everyone in the building is independent, and that's a big part of my concept," Kathy said. "They're all good at what they do, and they all are doing it individually, so I'm not anybody's boss, I'm just managing the building." Kathy is a physical therapist by trade, and she will operate her practice out of the building. She got her degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and is trained in therapy for the entire body.

"I treat any sort of pain in the body from headaches to foot pain," she said. "So, if someone's working around the house or doing yardwork and they always have backaches, they can come in for body mechanics and I can teach them how to move and lift better. I also do neurologics, which includes stroke patients and people with multiple sclerosis."

For the last seven years, Kathy has operated her practice out of her Bay View home. Recently she decided to expand in the neighborhood. The move into The Cutting Table spot was the next logical step.

Toe-tappin' classes

If you have a flair for dancing, Delaware House has plenty of programs to keep your feet in motion, too. It offers salsa dancing, ballroom dancing, Argentine tango and West Coast swing, all in the building's large dance studio, which offers more than enough room for a good-sized class.

The tango classes are taught by Nina Tatarowicz, who has been a tango instructor since 2001. Her studies have included a stint working in Buenos Aires, where she learned authentic tango dancing that reflects the Argentinean culture.

Martin Cawston, Neil Hollingsworth and Jacqui Lefebvre are the ballroom dance instructors and each brings a great deal of talent to the floor. Cawston is a champion professional ballroom dancer from England who has been performing for more than 20 years and has traveled around the world teaching and performing. London-native Hollingsworth has likewise been teaching for nearly 20 years and is a teacher's teacher, having coached instructors preparing for their exams. Lefebvre has been well-known in the Milwaukee dance community for more than a decade and has a background in competitive dance and ballet.

Swing classes are taught by Sheli Schroeder and Mike Konkel, a pair of championship dancers who have competed around the country. The West Coast style of swing - their specialty - is a slower swing that can be modified and improvised.

Daniel Balderas, Jr., a veteran award-winning salsa dancer, and Dennis Lopez, whose mastery of everything from the cha cha to Afro-Cuban dance is world-renowned, join Hollingworth and Lefebvre in teaching the salsa classes.

Dance classes are typically offered during the evenings and do not require registration. Group classes are usually $10; private classes are about $60.

Find your center with yoga

For those who prefer movement-based activities to be more relaxed and fluid, yoga with Tasha Miller is the way to go. Miller teaches two classes. Yoga Morning Flow will help you start your day energized and rejuvenated and Yoga Basics focuses on the fundamentals. Like the dance classes, yoga is $10 a session and does not require registration.

"Dancing and yoga are great for your health … and they're also fun," Kathy said. "You don't have to say, 'Oh, I'm just doing it for a medical reason.' It actually makes you feel good."

Krista McCain, a certified acupuncturist with a master's in Oriental medicine from the Midwest College of Oriental Medicine, is offering her services through different forms of acupuncture/acupressure treatment by appointment. Her therapies can help with health problems ranging from insomnia to aches and pains.

"Krista is an excellent acupuncturist and she also specializes in nutrition, so we will have that component here as well," Kathy said.

Aesthetician Jennie VanGemert will give facials and other body care services out of Delaware House's bottom floor, helping South Shore residents deal with that pesky acne or develop softer, healthier skin through a European facial. VanGemert is a certified aesthetician who graduated from The Institute of Beauty and Wellness in 2002 and has more than 10 years of experience in the massage arts.

Beyond this group of health care professionals, Kathy said they also will be leasing space to a personal trainer and massage therapists later in the summer. She still has a couple of spaces available for lease to other enterprising professionals in the area; however, she stresses that she wants to keep the services tailored toward wellness and movement, not retail sales.

Built to suit

One of the most surprising aspects of Delaware House is how spacious the building is. The first floor features the large dance studio and the physical therapy wing; a lofted second floor houses the yoga studio; and the basement level, which also is being remodeled, is the most expansive of all and will house many of the additional health practitioners. All of the tenants are sure to have ample room to breathe.

Kevin, a carpenter by trade, gutted and rebuilt some of the older parts of the building to match the newer additions that The Cutting Table owners constructed on the north half. New staircases were built, the second-floor loft area was enclosed and the ceiling and floor were replaced. The results are stunning - blond hardwood floors cover the entire first floor, and clean white walls and exposed rafters give the space an upscale look.

The Howells plan to finish construction by early August and plan to have most of their tenants in place by that time. At present, the dance and yoga classes are up and running, and the physical therapy, acupuncture and skin care components opened for business June 4.

"You don't have to need all of these services to come here," Kathy said. "Nor do you have to worry about us trying to make you join everything that's here. It's just a great place to go for a lot of services that are important for your health.

"If people want to just come in and take a look around, that's absolutely welcome. We want people to pop in so we don't get lonely!"

Dan Cowan wants to stick his nose in your business. E-mail him at with tips for his Strictly Business column.

At a glance

WHAT: Delaware House

WHERE: 2499 S. Delaware Ave.

WHEN: Someone is usually available in the building between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Some classes/sessions run earlier and later.

CONTACT: Kathy Howell at (414) 617-2469 or


Biz update

• HECTOR'S: A MEXICAN RESTAURANT: Owners of Hector's, which opened earlier this year at 3040 S. Delaware Ave., recently proposed an expansion into the adjacent storefront that would add approximately 50 more seats to the restaurant's dining space. Owners also sought the addition of outdoor patio seating around the perimeter of the building. At a June 4 town hall meeting, the proposal was rejected after residents cited concerns about parking and noise level.

"Hector's is an excellent restaurant; they have great food and its nice to have someplace like that you could walk to in the neighborhood," said Alderman Tony Zielinski. "Fred and his wife are good people and they run a good business."

He added that it can get noisy in the restaurant and bringing that noise outdoors, especially in the evening, could pose a problem for neighbors. Likewise, the additional capacity brought about by an expansion would require additional street parking, which would affect home owners in the area.

"The case is closed for right now," Zielinski said.

HAIRY'S HAIR BAR: On July 1, Hairy's Hair Bar marks its 11th year of cutting, teasing and coloring hair at 2385 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. The addition of a spa features nail services, body treatments, meditative yoga sessions and their specialty - Thai massage.

"A lot of people are fearful of massage because they don't want to have to take their clothes off … it makes them feel too vulnerable," said Dayelynn Harmon, stylist and owner of Hairy's. Thai massage allows loose clothing to be worn and involves stretching and pressure along the body's energy lines.

The spa at Hairy's will be located in the adjoining space, which was previously home to Body Logic Acupuncture Clinic, which recently closed. A grand opening will be held later this month, although clients are currently being seen for some services.

Harmon she tried opening a spa about seven years ago, before Bay View had its commercial boom. Now is a better time, she said.

"We want to be the spa where everyone can feel comfortable going to, and that they don't have to put on any airs," she said. "We're the fun, eclectic and terrifically artistic hair salon where the beer's on us."

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