By Marianne Mueller

Miss Andrea’s Dance Factory has a special dance tribe which started 30 years ago. Out of these beginnings this unique business has blossomed into a family oriented atmosphere.

Owner Andrea Mueller is a 1991 Hononegah Community High School graduate and has remained grounded in her roots. At the age of five her parents encouraged her to go to dancing school.  In high school Mueller was an Indianette and a team Captain at HCHS.

Long time friendships have developed and remained strong. Shannon Jackson met Mueller when they were taking dance classes at Forest Hills Dance Academy. Both also had the honor of learning dance from Sheri Greenfield who was a well-loved dance, flags and cheer coach at HCHS.

Jackson and her daughter Emma have guest taught for two “Summer Sizzler’s,” in the summers of 2019 and 2021. Jackson has also substituted for Mueller.

Mueller’s daughter Maddie started dancing at the age of two and is currently a coach at MADF.

Mueller’s career started with years of personal training under her belt. Mueller taught dance at the Beloit YMCA in the fall of 1992. Dancers were moved to the WIN Center in 1998. When the WIN Center was unable to keep itself afloat Mueller branched out into her very first studio on Saint Lawrence Avenue in Beloit. Opening day was Oct. 1 1999. The first competitive dance team started in that year with six dancers.

When Mueller first started teaching she had about 30 students. Over time that number grew to 145 at the YMCA.

Numbers dropped significantly when Beloit Corp had to close their doors and people couldn’t afford it any longer. The studio built their numbers back up and by the time they left the Saint Lawrence location Miss Andrea was back up to the 140 range of students. Today MADF continues to grow by welcoming about 250 families into two studio locations.

“Around a quarter of our students are boys, the rest are girls; but the amount of boys participating increases every year, “Mueller said.

Student ages range from two through adult. “We have many new families coming in after Christmas,” Mueller said.

The Rockton studio opened in the summer of 2018, to better serve customers at 624 N. Blackhawk Blvd. Mueller also holds classes at a second location inside the Gymnastics Academy of Rockford on Springbrook Road.

“My grandparents liked to dance socially. My Mom and Dad, aunt, uncle and all of my cousins would get together at our house on New Year’s Eve and we would all dance,” reflects Mueller.

“I never imagined becoming a dance teacher or owning my own dance studio. I started college to be a flight nurse. One day I was sitting in college and I had a complete change of heart.”

MADF has six levels of recreational dance and seven levels of team dance. Every year students go into competition, which varies from season to season. Solos, duets, trios and groups have been featured at past competitions. The important components of dance competition are a strong technical base, good choreography and entertainment quality.

MADF offers ballet, tap, jazz, pointe, modern/contemporary, hip hop, along with other unique classes that have been added including Mommy and Me, Yoga, African, Latin, Adult Hip Hop, Adult Ballet and Clogging. In order to teach students in the most effective way Mueller relies on the help of highly qualified and equally skilled team members.

Dancers come from the local area as well as those that travel several times a week from areas such as Poplar Grove, Edgerton, Milton and the south side of Rockford. “Some of the same kids that I started with originally now have kids who are dancing with me, “Mueller said.

Over the years, MADF has made it a mission to serve the community and to give back in a different way each month.

“This month we are doing a ‘Father Christmas’ toy drive for Goldie Floberg,” Mueller said. The studio is also a huge supporter of the “Wounded Warrior Project” and “Dancers against Cancer.”

Last month students and coaches collected food to be donated to the Old Stone Church Food Pantry to be used in Thanksgiving baskets.

Every year MADF takes part in the Rockton Christmas Walk parade.

“I believe that in this crazy world that people still need hope, and kids especially need to know that they matter and that they are all important each in their own ways, for different reasons, Mueller said. “Our studio is a home for all of that diversity. Saying that I am doing the Lord’s work sounds very prideful, but God commands us to love so that is what we do. I love those kids and I love them hard.”

“I love my job so much and I love being a big kid with my students.  I know when it’s time to be the boss, when it is time to be a coach and when it is time to come down to their level; to be right there with them.”

Students have a Christmas Show, a Spring Recital and a team Winter Showcase.

Next Saturday, Dec. 18 MADF is presenting their annual Christmas show at 11 a.m. and at 3 p.m. in the HCHS Performing Arts Center. The public is welcome! Tickets can be purchased by stopping by the studio or at the door the day of the show. If purchased in advance tickets are $7 each; at the door the cost is $10. If attending both shows the audience pays only $10. Spend quality time with family and friends by enjoying the gift of dance.

Go to MADF’s Facebook page for more details and for store hours.

Miss Andreas Dance Factory is still ‘rocking out’ after 30 years with a promise of future growth!

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