Mandy McVeigh is helping turn Brookfield's village center into an arts community.
McVeigh took her love of dance and a lifelong friendship with her Program Director Kelsey Krueger and established a business teaching myriad arts to kids from preschool through high school.
Brookfield Dance Academy had been slowly growing from its beginnings in a residential basement eight years ago when it moved in 2011 into a 5,000-square-foot space at 2935 N. Brookfield Road. In the year that followed, the student population grew from 60 to 600, and just this month the academy expanded by an additional 2,200 square feet.
The business also has grown to 23 employees.
More than dance
The academy also appears to have outgrown its name.
"We teach dance, but we also teach a lot of other things," McVeigh said. In addition to a long list of dance forms including ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop and poms, the academy offers youngsters and teens lessons in tumbling, voice, piano and drama improvisation.
It is just starting an aerial arts class (think Cirque du Soleil), and recently started a preschool art class.
McVeigh credits the academy's success to its diverse curriculum - including noncompetitive and competition-centered offerings - as well as an average price of $169 for 13 weeks.
"Parents love our prices," she said.
The academy has been designed with warm earth tones and comfortable furnishings that create an environment that does not scream "large center."
"We want people to feel as comfortable as if they are in their own homes," McVeigh said.
Both McVeigh and Krueger are eager to point out the benefits of the academy's programs, especially dance. They say self-esteem, goal-setting, poise, flexibility, respect and body alignment are some of the benefits.
The academy also provides adult outlets such as yoga and Zumba.
"I think we're going to have to change the name to something that encompasses everything we do," McVeigh said. "We're thinking about a couple of names, but we're not ready yet."
The business began in the basement of Tracy Pearson's Brookfield home.
Pearson was the dance teacher of McVeigh and Krueger when they were growing up in Watertown. As adults, the young women pursued other careers, with McVeigh teaching kindergarten and Krueger earning a degree in architecture and working in a bank.
"We never lost our love of dance," Krueger said. "This just seemed natural."
Pearson said she had retired from dance instruction and was looking for a dance program for her daughter, Alison, now a student at Brookfield Central High Schoool. Her association with McVeigh and Krueger sparked the new venture.
"The things that Mandy and Kelsey have been able to do are amazing," Pearson said. "And Mandy is involved in giving to the community. She is at the farmers market, getting the students involved in the (Susan G. Komen) cancer walk and run, and in parades.
"You have to respect a person who can take what they love, turn it into a business and also give back to the community," she said.
Students, parents love it
The academy has been important to students like Abbey DeLaet, a Brookfield Central freshman who was one of the academy's first students, starting when she was in first grade.
"I love practicing there five times a week," Abbey said. "I come home and do my homework, and then I head over to the academy. It's my home away from home."
Abbey's mother, Betsy DeLaet, said the academy has been a place to learn more than dance.
"We wanted her to have an activity that was not too competitive at first," Betsy said. "We did not go into this with a big budget. We like that the dance teams go to the parades and runs and are part of the community. It's just as important to teach that."
Brookfield Dance Academy is a key piece in the economic development goals of the Village area, said Rich Conley, the academy property's landlord. He is not surprised at the business' success.
"That type of business plays a pretty significant role in the synergy of the Village," he said. "They know their business, they know how to market and they have the right personnel.
"It's a destination business and a service that brings people to the area who may stay and shop."
Conley, owner of Vino Cappuccino, is banking on it.
ADDRESS:2945 N. Brookfield Road
Your link to the biggest stories in the suburbs delivered Thursday mornings.
Enter your e-mail address above and click "Sign Up Now!" to begin receiving your e-mail newsletter Get the Newsletter!
- Man charged with fleeing Brookfield police making drunken driving stop
- City: Drinking water is safe despite contamination warning
- Purses targeted in car break-ins outside Wilson Center
- Guaranty Bank in Brookfield robbed
- Auditors draw different conclusions on Azana spa shooter case
- Residents wait for answers on cell tower
- Business owners launch school funding initiative
- Elmbrook students honor most influential teachers
- St. John Vianney celebrates year's end with Grills and Guitars
- High school seniors can leave building during study hall period