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M Center for Art and Wellness opens in Bay Ridge

The New Year may be all about regeneration and rebirth but for the M Center for Art and Wellness, it’s always been about a new beginning.

Founded by teacher, vocal trainer and artist Mary Elizabeth Micari with help from Manager Jay Michaels of Genesis Repertory, the center focuses on both spiritual wellness and artistic expression.

According to Micari, it all began in her living room.

“I was working as a private voice teacher and my students started to really grow,” she explained of her years as a Bay Ridge-rooted vocal coach. “One day, there were 15 students sitting in my living room. From there, I knew we had to expand.”

Micari said she and Michaels had always had their eye on their humble shop located off the corner of Fifth Avenue and 83rd Street, and “almost effortlessly” their dream became a reality.

“She called me up and said ‘we got the place, we’re going to sign the lease,’” explained Michaels. “I was gobsmacked.” Before they knew it, donations from faithful students were flooding in as the M Center came to life one dresser, desk and bright pink curtain at a time.

“It started to bloom about two to three years ago,” explained Micari of a time when she was doing a lot of training and personal theater work. “I was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease and took my own paths of healing.”

M stands for many things, according to the M Center’s founders.

The musical mogul was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, a disease in which the immune system attacks the healthy tissue, causing severe pain in both the joints and the entire body.

“I found healing in herbalism and Reiki,” Micari said. Before long, she was dishing out spiritual remedies to friends and family. “That’s when I really realized Bay Ridge doesn’t have a place with music and wellness mixed together.”

And so the M Center was born, an intimate studio designed to provide classes and private lessons while nurturing growth. From creative arts and music and to holistic healing and wellness, the M Center has it all and it’s right here at home for eager Ridgeites looking for a creative outlet.

Open for business, the M Center will begin registration for 2014 on January 6, offering affordable classes and private lessons in voice, vocal training, music theory, piano, guitar, acting, painting, playwriting and much more.

Not only does the M Center provide the outlet, but they also set the stage.

“I don’t think people realize what it means to perform,” said Michaels, once a teacher of the arts at Kingsborough Community College, “and I don’t think people make the connection between wellness and performing.”

Voice, acting and writing classes at the M Center include monthly performances in the studio and a formal recital at the end of the season at a Manhattan theater while painting and drawing classes include a gallery style exhibition in the studio and a formal showing at the end of the season also in a Manhattan theater.

According to Michaels and Micari, that’s the thrill of it.

“It’s amazing to see students take the stage in the city,” said Micari who also reveled in the joy of a 56-year-old student finding her singing voice for the first time with the center.

While Michaels said the “M” in M Center stands for Micari, the jubilant teacher disagreed.

“M stands for many, many things,” she said, noting that the center has a teaching staff of half a dozen, all from Bay Ridge.

According to the center’s colorful brochure, the M stands for “Music,” “Magic,” “Meditation” and “Medicinals,” all available in the homey Fifth Avenue workshop. The two feel right at home amongst the growing theater community in South Brooklyn.

“That’s the thing about Bay Ridge,” Michaels continued “There’s an outpour of community theater but you don’t find the next level. Hopefully that’s where we’ll be.”

The M center is open Monday through Friday from noon to 10 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. Classes are tailored for children 10 to 13 years old, teens 13 to 19 years old, young professionals 20 to 40 years old, adults 40 years and older, and seniors 65 years and older.

According to Micari, classes start as low as $30 and those looking for wellness can shop the M Center’s made-to-order medicinals, motivations and magic including but not limited to aromatherapy blends, bath salts, kefir and teas.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity,” they both agreed, overly excited for next year’s registration.

For more information and a full list of classes and opportunities, visit www.genesis-repertory.org/the-m-center-of-brooklyn, e-mail MCenterBrooklyn@gmail.com or call 347-492-0534.

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