Mom’s Former Business Site Revived As Dance, Fitness Studio

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Opening a new business is always a leap of faith, but maybe it’s less intimidating when you’ve been dancing for 25 years. 

Last May, Julia Sykes opened Studio 721, a dance and fitness studio just off Main Street in Buzzards Bay. The building formerly housed her mother’s photography studio. 

“Because it’s a small space, it created a sense of community among the people who have been coming,” she said. “When you come here, the instructor will know your name. You’ll probably know the people who are taking your class. The main feedback that I get, which I love, is that this is a welcoming space. That’s exactly what I wanted to do. 

“Dance is a vulnerable thing, so I wanted to create a space where people could come and not have to worry about feeling out of place. They can just move and not be judged.”

Studio 721 offers about 20 dance classes per week. Sykes teaches contemporary and ballet, and other instructors lead sessions on barre, hip hop and XaBeat, among others. The studio also offers Pilates and yoga classes. 

Sykes started dancing at age 5 and after a few years pursuing gymnastics, she continued her dance training, studying ballet, modern, contemporary, tap and jazz. “There’s something about it that I can’t describe,” she said. “It’s like my soul needs to do it. Once you’re a dancer, you’re always a dancer and it’s just something in your life that you feel compelled to do.”

After graduating from Bourne High School, she majored in dance and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Long Island University in Brooklyn, New York.

“I had awesome training,” she said. “The dean of dance was a former principal with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.”

She spent a summer as a member of a dance team for the Brooklyn Cyclones, a baseball team affiliated with the New York Mets, but began to miss Cape Cod. She met Wes Sykes, another Bourne native, when they were working at the same restaurant. About that time, her mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and the new couple moved back to Bourne. 

Sykes danced with several companies in the area and taught at Center Stage Dance Academy in Plymouth, the Dance Complex in Cambridge, the BoSoma School of Dance in Hamilton, and Turning Pointe Dance Studio in Falmouth. 

After her mother, Lisa Amaral, passed away in 2019, the family wanted to find a use for the Forlivesi Photography studio that she had used for 20 years. (Forlivesi was Amaral’s maiden name.) Sykes knew just what to do with the space. 

Julia Sykes
Julia Sykes’ mother owned Forlivesi Photography.

“Most dance studios focus on kids and offer one or two adult classes,” she said. “It was my dream to start something where we could provide classes for adults. I also wanted to offer dance-related fitness classes, because dancers benefit from cross-training with things like Pilates, barre and yoga.”

When she opened Studio 721 last May, she briefly wondered, “Are people even going to want to do this?” 

“Luckily, I found out that there are a ton of dancers around here who grew up dancing and just stopped. I get a lot of people who come in and say, ‘I haven’t done this in 10 or 20 years. It felt so good.’ We also have complete beginners who try things like ballet, which is so hard when you’ve never done it before. They feel comfortable enough to come take our class, which is great.” 

Sykes chose the name Studio 721 to honor her mother, who was born on July 21. Last year, she hosted a fundraiser on that date. Five instructors taught classes in different styles and accepted donations. The event raised over $2,000 for ovarian cancer research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. “It was a small way to try and raise money for an important cause,” Sykes said. 

Sykes grew up in Buzzards Bay. Her first job at age 13 was bussing tables at Mezza Luna restaurant, where she later worked as a waitress and bartender. Community spirit is important to her; she walked with students in the village’s Independence Day parade and hosted a toy and food drive at Studio 721 just before Christmas. 

Julia, 31, and her husband Wes Sykes, an editor at Great American Media Services, live in Buzzards Bay, and are expecting a baby in April. 

Studio 721 is located at 155 Main St., rear unit, Buzzards Bay. For more information visit or email