The competition and recreational dance circuit is heating up in Waukesha County, bringing passion, winning choreography and technique to a whole new level from a brand new studio in the Village of Sussex. Entrepreneur Amy Kelly started Attitude Dance Company in her hometown in May 2017 after devoting 28 years as a dancer in both recreation and competitive dance programs in Wisconsin.
“Dance education and critical life skills are often not thought of together. When we study dance, we are really learning creativity, self-expression, perseverance, problem solving, risk taking and even interpersonal skills. Dancing regularly increases fitness and pliability, and sharpens technical acuity, but more importantly, it teaches confidence, cooperation, discipline and work ethic,” said Amy. “I have had the pleasure of seeing children grow into successful young adults because they have learned the value of commitment, know how to pick themselves up from their mistakes and find strength when faced with great competition.”
These traits have resonated deeply with Amy through her personal journey as a dancer. After a successful four years as a member of the Collegiate Dance Team at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, winning first place in the Pom division of the UPA AmeriCup National Dance Competition every year, Amy was disappointed by a series of “no’s” when she auditioned for the Minnesota Timberwolves Dance Team, the Milwaukee Bucks Dance Team and the Milwaukee Brewers Dance Team. But this did not deter her, nor squash her love and passion for dancing.
Amy turned her focus to becoming a full-time dance instructor, and went on to win a string of awards, including the Starpower Regional
Choreography Award in 2015 and Midwest Starz National Choreography Award in 2016. She also coached the Waunakee Varsity Dance Team to win two regional, one state and two national titles in hip hop from 2012-2016.
Turning passion into a business
After an illustrious career as a coach, instructor and studio manager, Amy was ready to turn her dream of opening her own dance studio into a reality. However, she needed help figuring out her revenue streams, break even level, capital needs and financing options.
Amy was introduced by her father’s banker to the Waukesha County Center for Growth and the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Waukesha. The business consultants there helped her with financial planning and even identified commercial spaces that might be suitable for her new business. Amy shared, “My two biggest challenges were developing my revenue model and financial projections, and overcoming my fears of owning my own business. My business consultant went above and beyond any expectation in both of these areas for me.”
Today, Attitude Dance Company occupies a 5,600 square-foot studio at N64 W24678 Main Street in Sussex, Wisconsin, which has two large rooms for ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, contemporary and hip hop classes. Alongside the recreational program which caters to those aged 3-18, is the competitive program, which offers two levels of training – competitive and elite. To cater to increasing demand from the community, Attitude Dance Company has brought on board an additional dance instructor and two guest choreographers.
Bringing fun and competition together
“In our recreational program, kids can come in and not have a day of dance in them. For children and youth, it is important to show the fun in dance, and let them discover how addictive an hour of dance can be!” Amy said. According to her, many will get bitten by the dance bug and some will find new gifts in dancing competitively.
Students must audition for the competitive program, which involves attending a dance convention and participating in two to four competitions a year. Those in the competition program train between 3½ and 7 hours a week in a variety of dance styles, and learn the fundamentals with ballet.
Amy Kelly has a strong vision for molding our youth and future generation through the power of dance. Attitude Dance Company raises the barre for other dance studios in southeast Wisconsin.
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