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My Dance School, 20 years in The Making

Gracie celebrates and honors

Laguna Niguel dance studio, MV Dance, is celebrating its 20-year recital this week. Officially named Mission Viejo Dance and Performing Arts Center, the studio was originally located in Mission Viejo. 

When the studio moved  to its present location on Camino Capistrano in  Laguna Niguel in 1998, they kept the name because of its close proximity to Mission Viejo.

Starting with only about 160 students it has grown to teach over 1,100 students.  The annual dance recitals have grown to be so big they are held at San Juan Hills High School and have eight performances from Tuesday, June 26 through Sunday July 1.

I asked owner Jena Minnick how she became interested in becoming a dance teacher. 

"I started dancing at age 7, learning ballet. At age 12, I expanded my training with pointe, jazz, musical theatre, tap, voice and acting. I began teacher training at age 14 and graduated from my ballet academy at age 16," she said. "Immediately, I started teaching. I taught during and after college, as well as performed professionally."

She was teaching for MVDPAC while working as a paralegal at a law firm, when Joy Hewitt, the original owner, approached her about taking over.

"When I was teaching, it made me so happy that I thought my heart would burst. I didn't care if I made any money teaching," she continued. "I wanted to be in the dance room, and the whole studio environment was like being home. Additionally, my daughter was 1 years old when I decided to take over MV Dance."

She said at the time, her daughter was being cared for by a nanny 45 hours a week. But she wanted a career that she could share with her children.

"The studio is my second family and my children are very much a part of it. I chose MVDPAC particularly, because of the principles it was founded on."

She said the studio is for everyone and not just for elite dancers.

"...it isn't just for recreational dancers, it isn't just for ballerinas or adults, it’s for everyone," she said. "No matter what age, level, or dance style, each student received the same amount of great instruction and attention. And the teaching is through positive corrections, encouragement, and studied curriculums. It is exactly what I want from a studio, as a parent, a dancer, a teacher, and now an owner." 

Since taking over MVDPAC, she said she has constantly strived to provide the most affordable training and scholarships.

"My dance training and college education would not have been possible without scholarships and the generosity of others. I believe there are very talented and hard-working individuals who deserve the same opportunities I was afforded. So I make that a priority in our school," she said.

Jena has often said how rewarding it is to be a dance teacher and makes everyone there feel like family. 

I wrote about my own experience there in the article: for Laguna Niguel Patch early on. 

I am so proud to be a part of this studio and I know so many others are.

Happy 20th anniversary MV Dance!

To learn more go to: mvdpac.com/

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