High Five with Shirley and Michele Larkin

Larkin Dance Studio in performance

In business since: 1950 

Number of students enrolled: 800

What is the philosophy at Larkin Dance Studio? There’s nothing you can’t accomplish if you put your mind to it. Be confident, be respectful and be the best you can be—the sky is the limit. Many of our teachers are Larkin alumni and our ballet program is getting stronger every year. We support one another and work together to make a positive difference in the children’s lives.

As longtime studio owners, how do you keep everyone happy? It’s impossible to keep everyone happy. As long as the kids work hard and are respectful, we’ve done our job. We focus on keeping a positive work environment. We hold faculty meetings so that our staff members can have their voices heard, and we listen and make changes if needed. If your teachers aren’t happy, your students won’t be happy.

You have about 60 male dancers at your studio. How do you attract and retain them? We try to keep the choreography masculine. It helps to have male teachers, and the boys love hip hop. It’s also encouraging to the younger boys to dance with the older ones. They are able to see the kind of people they can become if they stick with dancing.

What’s the secret to a successful competition strategy? Make sure you have the total package. Work hard and make sure your choreography is clean. But also, your costumes should be just as amazing as your dancers and choreography.

What’s your advice to other competition teams? Teach your students about good sportsmanship. There’s nothing more embarrassing for a teacher than students who don’t represent your studio in a positive manner. Teach them to cheer for all of the studios at competition, and let them know how important it is to support one another. Kids who work hard together and treat each other with love and respect will shine more onstage.


Photo courtesy Larkin Dance Studio

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