By Marianne Mueller, REPORTER

 Miss Andrea’s Dance Factory is a well-known name in Rockton and throughout the Stateline. Studio owner, Andrea Mueller, reflects on the past 25 years starting with her own personal experience. “It’s a very funny thing, as I never really had an interest in dance until my parents ‘forced’ me to take class. I was a tomboy through and through; I still am, but in spite of that fact my parents got me involved in dance hoping to uncover my softer side,” said Mueller. “I trained under teachers such as Martha Bullock, Melissa Steiner, Teddi Burgess, and most recognizably was my last teacher Sheri Greenfield. I am grateful for all of my teachers in the past, but I owe so much to Sheri. First she was my teacher, and then she became my high school coach and our baton teacher here at the studio. Lastly Sheri was a very dear friend who I miss very much.”

With years of personal training under her belt, Mueller moved forward in her career teaching dance at the Beloit YMCA in the fall of 1992. “I then moved my dancers and me to the WIN Center of 1998. The WIN Center was unable to keep itself afloat, and I branched out into my very first studio at 1503 Saint Lawrence Avenue in Beloit. Our opening day was October 1st of 1999. When I first started teaching, I had about 55 dancers. Over time that number grew to 145 at the YMCA. Our numbers dropped significantly when Beloit Corp had to close their doors and people couldn’t afford it any longer. Over time we built our numbers back up, and by the time we left our Saint Lawrence location we were back up to the 140 range. We started our first competitive dance team in 1999 with six dancers. Our studio is now 165 dancers of which 40 are on the team!”

Miss Andrea’s Dance Factory moved into Rockton and was located at Cannell Corner in Rockton for a number of years. Allowing dancers a larger space to rehearse in, Miss Andrea’s Dance Factory recently opened in a new location in the former Masonic building on Main Street. “Our studio over on Cannell Court is not one big room; but four rooms total. Each night dance enrollments are full,” said Mueller. Miss Andrea’s Dance Factory offers ballet, tap, jazz, pointe, lyrical, modern/contemporary, hip hop and musical theatre. Utilizing the extra space, unique classes have been added including Mommy and Me, Yoga, African, Latin, Adult Hip Hop, Adult Ballet and Clogging.

The duet of Laila and Brayden Martin, dancers from Miss Andrea’s Dance, entertained with a dance
number in pirate costumes.

In order to teach students in the most effective way, Mueller relies on the help of highly qualified and equally skilled team members. “I have six outside contractors that teach at our studio, three student instructors and multiple student assistant teachers.”

Dancers who learn at Miss Andrea’s Dance Factory come from the local area as well as dancers that travel several times a week from areas such as Poplar Grove, Edgerton, Milton and the south side of Rockford. Students have a Christmas Show, a Spring Recital and a team Winter Showcase on a yearly basis. Each of these performances takes place at Hononegah on the Performing Arts Center stage.

“There have been so many wonderful memories over the last 25 years,” reflects Mueller. “Students that I had from the beginning now have their children dancing with me, which used to make me feel old; but not anymore. I now see that as such a huge blessing. Many of my former students have gone on to dance professionally across the country. One of the greatest memories for me was when one of my students became an Overall National Grand Champion two summers ago. That was a first for me as a coach, and the first National Champion soloist for our studio. That same year we also won for one of our duets,” lauds Mueller.

What sets Miss Andrea’s Dance Factory apart from others?

“I truly feel what makes us different than other studios, is the love for the children that we have. Each dancer is truly important to us and we care that everyone succeeds at our studio. Students are not just a number here at Miss Andrea’s; you are a Star!”

What types of change has Miss Andrea’s seen in the last 25 years?

“There have been fluctuations due to the economy, and there were several times I didn’t know if my studio would continue to exist, “said Mueller. “Let’s face it; dance lessons are not groceries, gas in the car, the energy or bills to pay. We offer a service that is more considered to be a luxury. With God’s Grace, we have made it through and are still going strong! I am very grateful. I love many aspects about my career choice. I am able to set my own hours, and work with some truly wonderful people of all ages! I am a very blessed that I get to do something that I love and to still have time to home school my daughter, to help look after my dad and to spend quality time on our little farmette with my family,” shares Mueller.

“I know that the biggest reason the studio is a success is because of God’s greatness!! He has blessed me with so much more than I deserve. I am so very grateful to have the students, staff and dance parents that we do! Everyone chips in and has helped make Miss Andrea’s Dance Factory what we are today!”

Mueller is a 1991 Hononegah High School alum. “It is important to me to keep the business local,” said Mueller.

With a 25 year record of growth and popularity what does the future hold for Miss Andrea’s Dance Factory? “We have been here 25 years and hope to be here for at least another 25!” 

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