The new owner of the QC Dance studio understands the business’ mission, having danced or instructed there for the past 27 years.
For more than 40 years, former owner Mary Williams Jasicki’s mission has been to run a dance studio that provided a quality education while not burning out the dancers, who start as young as 2 years old and can dance well into their adult lives here.
“My kids love to dance and it’s their passion, but if they want to succeed in life, they have to do more than dance,” said Heather Sandberg, another studio alumna and current instructor with two daughters in the program.
Although the new owner, Barb Stanley, will be overseeing construction of a fourth dance studio room, its first locker room and an observation area for parents to watch their children perform, she is not planning to make wholesale program changes.
That means QC Dance, 1051 109th Ave. NE in Blaine, will continue to offer ballet, tap, jazz, clogging, and hip hop styles of dancing along with kettlebells, clogging, hip hop and adult dance fitness classes.
“It is a pleasure when I have been in business for 43 years to have the business transition into good hands,” Jasicki said.
There is no need for tearful good byes, though, because Jasicki will continue to teach classes from time to time. She calls it “semi-retiring.”
From ‘queen’ to studio owner
Jasicki started dancing at the age of 6 and her aptitude for it helped her be crowned Miss Minnesota and compete in the Miss America Pageant in 1968. She became a paid dance instructor in a Minneapolis parks and recreation program.
She befriended the 1967 Miss Minnesota, Charlotte Sims Olein, and together in 1970 they opened Queens Court Dance Studio in St. Anthony Village’s Apache Plaza mall. That’s where the “QC” in the business name comes from.
It was certainly a big step for Jasicki to open a business at the age of 22 and right out of college, but what got her interested in owning a dance studio and the reason she stayed involved is the children.
“I enjoy seeing the children learn to use their talents and watch them grow, expressing themselves through dance,” Jasicki said.
A point Jasicki made from the beginning was to not harp on her students to practice constantly. It’s good for the dancers and common sense for the business because there are more extra curricular options today than there were in 1970. The dancers are encouraged to find other school and church activities to be involved in beyond the dance studio, she said.
Sandberg said her daughters Victoria, 12, and Makenna, 9, practice twice a week in the studio and some more at home. She knows some studios who want their girls practicing three to five days a week.
The most intense practice schedule is the annual camp at Cragun’s Resort in Brainerd, where they practice four to five hours per day for four days, but have time for social activities in the evening.
The competitions they typically partake in do not have large cash prizes, so there is less pressure on the dancers to bring in revenue for the studio.
“Your goal is to entertain, not win,” Jasicki said.
That does not mean the studio has not had its success stories. Two of its dance teams placed first and second at this year’s National Showdown Championship in Wisconsin Dells, Wis.
When a tornado gutted Apache Plaza April 26, 1984, Jasicki said the studio’s future was “unsettled,” but it was able to find a new place in Roseville that fall.
In 1989, Jasicki expanded beyond Roseville to Blaine and has been in three different locations. The first spot was the former Northgate Mall, then to the corner of 121st Avenue and Paul Parkway and finally to the current location in 2008. The Roseville location closed in 1996, so the business is solely in Blaine.
From dancer to owner
Sandberg said QC Dance “is family and I wouldn’t think of taking my kids anywhere else.” She was thrilled to hear about Stanley buying the business.
“The mission will stay the same, which is what we need,” Sandberg said.
Stanley started dancing at the age of 3 and joined QC Dance Studios in Roseville in 1986. By 1994, she was teaching others. She transferred to Blaine in 1996 when the Roseville location closed.
She has been a member of Twin Cities Dance Court, which is a nonprofit volunteer group that performed in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France and Italy along with numerous nursing homes and the Mall of America. She has performed multiple times at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., and once at EuroDisney in Paris, France.
Stanley got a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from the University of Minnesota, during which time she took ballet and dance education classes.
She has trained in many dance disciplines including ballet and pointe, tap, jazz, lyrical and contemporary, clog, musical theater, modern, hip hop and liturgical. She is a member of the Chicago National Association of Dance Masters.
Besides her expertise in dance, Jasicki also appreciates her health field knowledge. Stanley in 2006 earner her doctorate in physical fitness.
When asked if anything would change now that she is the owner, Stanley replied, “More of the same excellence, just more class offerings.”
Stanley talked about how the fourth studio room will be a blessing for families with a lot of dancers in the program. The kids are split up by ages and style of dance, so working on scheduling families who have kids of multiple ages is challenging. Another room means more kids can dance at once.
Parents will also be able to watch their children dance from this fourth room because an observation area is being constructed. The dancers will be able to change at the studio itself as well because a new locker room is being constructed.
Stanley has a 7-year-old daughter, Ella, who dances at QC Dance Studio and a 4-year-old son, Jackson.
“It means a lot,” Stanley said when asked what it means for her to be the new business owner. “It’s very important that children are able to have many experiences. It makes a big difference in who they are as adults.”
Visit www.qcdance.com or call 763-754-4094 to find out more information about QC Dance.
Eric Hagen is at [email protected]