Miss Andrea's Dance Factory turns 30, wins at nationals
Spectacular dance numbers were brought to life by talented dancers who took center stage on Saturday, June 11 at the Hononegah Performing Arts Center; each one was ``breaking news” that Miss Andrea's Dance Factory is celebrating 30 years of dance excellence.
Three separate recitals included ensembles, duets, and spectacular large group choreography. Dancers wore detailed costumes or outfits to match each tune that played. As the song, “Speed Racer” played, dancers moved in perfect sync in a full pom routine. An intermediate hip hop number moved to sounds of a “Purple Rain Mix.”
Ballet dancers gracefully moved to “Love in the Dark.”
Intermediate tap dancing corresponded with the song, “Hair in the Air.”
The Tribe Competition team wowed the audience in different numbers including an outstanding dramatic interpretation of an “Oompa Loompa” routine, representing Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
Closing out the first part of the recital was a heart-pounding spectacular number featuring coaches and around 65 dancers of various ages.
With the audience pumped and ready for more, the second half opened with a fully dramatic version of “Things that Go Bump in the Night.” Zombies and an appearance by Pennywise from “It” sent a message and even held balloons during this unique experience.
Miss Andrea's Dance Factory's owner Andrea Mueller is a 1991 Hononegah Community High School graduate who 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.
Mueller’s career started above the garage of her family's farm before it moved to the Shirland Town Hall (one of the places that Mueller took dance classes when she was a child,) with Melissa Steiner. 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 October 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 Corporation had to close their doors and people couldn't afford lessons 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 around 140 students. Today MADF welcomes 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.
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 parents, 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 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, Clogging, and Advanced Clogging. In order to teach students in the most effective way Mueller relies on the help of highly qualified and equally skilled team members whom she recognizes during the recitals. She also gives credit to the dancers, and parents for their dedication.
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 giving in a different way each month.
One of the missions that has received help from MADF is a “Father Christmas” toy drive for Goldie Floberg. The studio is also a huge supporter of the “Wounded Warrior Project” and “Dancers against Cancer.” The MADF tribe has collected food that has been donated to the Old Stone Church food pantry to be used in Thanksgiving baskets.
Every year MADF takes part in community parades.
Students present a Christmas show, a spring recital and a team winter showcase.
MADF showed off their sharp skills at national competition the week of June 23- 27, then advanced to grand nationals, emerging as “Grand National Champions.” The tribe earned honors with a 1st place petite soloist, in 1st , 1st place junior soloist, 1st place petite large group, first place junior/duet/trio, 1st place petite small group, 1st place junior production, (a full team win), fifth place Senior soloist, 2nd place junior large group, and 5th place senior large group.
Mueller is looking forward to future growth, “We keep expanding our base of dancers and might need a bigger studio in the future, “Mueller said.