Edmonton dance school Shelley’s Dance Co. welcomes back students after remarkable 50 years in business

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WATCH ABOVE: Shelley's Dance Company in Edmonton has been in the business for half a century now. Margeaux Maron takes a look at what makes the homegrown company such a success. – Aug 21, 2019

September is just around the corner and this year an Edmonton dance school is welcoming back students after a remarkable 50 years in business.

Shelley’s Dance Company has a reputation for churning out high caliber dancers, like Emmy-nominated choreographer Stacey Tookey ⁠— the daughter and protege of founder Shelley Tookey.

“She’s old school in the best possible way,” Stacey said. The So You Think You Can Dance choreographer came home this week to teach summer classes at her mom’s studio.

Stacey says it’s a school founded on technique, respect, discipline and class etiquette.

“It really goes down to the fundamentals of dance,” Stacey said.

Shelley says it’s hard to believe her studio is half a century old.

“Fifty years ago, I was a 15-year-old with a vision,” Shelley said. “Some people have jobs they don’t love, but I love what I do.”

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The studio has too many competitive titles to count. Instead, Shelley measures her success by that of her pupils. Countless studio alumni have gone on to receive university scholarships or contracts with major entertainment groups.

“I have dancers that are all over the world dancing… and what I really like about it is they consider Shelley’s home,” said the studio owner.

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Several other alumni also returned to teach this week, including Katie Forss and Mackenzie Howse — members of the Radio City Rockettes.

Dancing at the studio meant being held to a higher level than she had ever experienced before, Howse said.

“I knew it was just what I had to do, so there was just no other option than to show up ready and prepared,” Howse said.

There was no better inspiration than watching Shelley’s alumni receive internationally renowned dance contracts.

“You’re just in this situation like, ‘Wow, this could actually happen for me,'” Forss said.

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Shelley says her studio’s tough-love approach builds more than excellent technique, it builds strong character.

“I just hope I’m still around in 10 years,” Shelley said. “The kids always say, ‘Oh, you’ll be teaching in a wheelchair.’ And I probably will be.”

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