Jane and James Carter took a chance on opening Dance Academy USA in 1990. After all, most businesses, let alone dance schools, run a high risk of failure.
But passion and expertise combined to make Dance Academy USA one of the go-to dance schools in the area. The Carters tout the school as one of the best nationwide.
During its 30-year history, Dance Academy USA has served more than 70,000 families in Los Altos, Mountain View, Cupertino, Sunnyvale, Saratoga, Los Gatos, Campbell, Santa Clara and West San Jose. The studio offers dance classes, primarily for children, in jazz, ballet, pointe, tap, contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, ballroom, musical theater, creative dance and intro to dance.
The school has scheduled a 30th anniversary celebration 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the Cupertino-based school, located in The Oaks center on Stevens Creek Boulevard. Saturday’s event will include dance class instruction, a bounce house, face painting, cotton candy and popcorn, and a raffle drawing for a free month of dance tuition for the 2020-2021 season that begins in August. The school’s competition team will perform some of its routines.
The Carters, Los Altos residents since 2003, first established the school as a one-room studio in 1990 on the corner of Stelling and Homestead roads. It has since become what they claim is the largest dance school in the state, comprising seven studio rooms and a staff of 55, serving more than 2,000 dancers annually.
Jane, who has danced professionally as a member of the Golden State Warrior Girls and the San Francisco 49ers’ Gold Rush, serves as the school’s owner/director. The school started out of Jane’s desire to continue to teach jazz and lyrical dance after the owner of a previous facility where she was teaching moved out of the area.
“This is when we had to make a decision,” she said. “Jim asked if I wanted to continue, and he found the location and set up the business for me to get started.”
Culture of inclusion
Business has blossomed over the years.
“We have run recitals yearly for 30 years, which accounts for over 150 shows,” Jim said. “There is very little drama inside of (Dance Academy) because we know from experience the things to do to ensure the focus stays on our dancers. Our culture is second to none, and our parents know instinctively (at this point) that they need to support all (school) dancers, not just their own child.”
In 2014, the Dance Teacher Magazine board awarded Jane and Dance Academy USA the coveted Capezio Ace Award.
Jim cites success forged from establishing a solid reputation among not only clients, but staff as well. The average staff member has been on board 12 years, he said.
“We do not believe we are the best because we are the biggest. We are biggest because of our loving culture of family, friends and inclusion,” Jim said. “As a community within a community, we are most proud of how well our students, parents and staff treat one another – that is, with kindness, love and encouragement. That loving culture has been intentional from day one and remains to this day.”
Dance Academy USA is located at 21269 Stevens Creek Blvd., No. 618, across the street from De Anza College near Highway 85. For more information, visit danceacademyUSA.com.