Dance Studio Secrets features the stories and experience from members of the Dance Studio Owners Inner Circle.
Pull back the curtains for an up-close and personal look into how other studio owners are creating thriving businesses and fulfilling lives both inside and outside of the studio.
Check out this week’s sneak-peek into our Inner Circle dance studios, featuring Launch PAC Founder and CEO, Michelle Hopper Doyle.
I was so thrilled that this guest said ‘yes’ to be featured in Dance Studio Secrets, because her commitment to the growth of her students deserves to be celebrated. Michelle is always looking at ways to be innovative while delivering an unparalleled level of training to help her students grow.
Who are your biggest role models, and why?
Kelley Abbey is a huge inspiration now as well as when I was younger. She is so inspirational and you always learn from her, even as a professional dancer. Even in what she is doing today, Kelley is continually growing and evolving as an artist.
The other huge career and personal inspiration to me is actually two of my closest friends, Ashley and Antony, AKA The Squared Division. They are an inspiration for my age, and I have seen them go from working dancers and artists and performers to grow to where they are now. They are huge creative directors in the States and they are just so successful. To watch them grow that business, I have so much respect and they inspire me so much. Their dedication to quality and staying true to themselves is a huge lesson that being confident and staying true to yourself works.
What are some of the biggest adjustments you have made to meet changes in the industry over the last 10 years?
I keep hearing that there is not as much work now for dancers compared to back when I was dancing. We were constantly working because there were more TV and variety programs, so I think now there is potentially less work but a lot more dancers. There are a lot of pre-professional courses running at the moment so that training is a lot more accessible and the world has opened up more. We did not have a lot of dancers that dreamed of going to L.A.back in my day, so now we work with our dancers to educate them and provide those larger opportunities to meet demand.
When it comes to social media, there is a lot that gets posted on Facebook and Instagram that is not actually a true reflection of what is happening in the industry. Instead, I see that we go through a lot more fads. We went through the stage where everyone wanted to put their leg up behind their head and they were posting that. Then there was a surge of hip hop and there is a lot of jazz at the moment, and then lyrical became really popular. I have found that training kids I need to reinforce that they still need their ballet and musical theater to have any hope of a career as a performer. We teach them that dancing is not just about what happens in these trending videos.
What do you include in your programs for pre-professional dancers to prepare them for a career in the industry?
Firstly, I make sure that I get teachers and trainers who have had extensive experience in the industry. I think there’s a lot of great, young choreographers out there that are teaching, which is awesome.There is a lot of value in those classes, but for me it is making sure I bring in experts and people who have been around for a long time, and making sure they learn from them as well. There is always the favorite young ‘star’ with great choreography that kids want to get in, but I know there is such a different value that comes from experienced teachers.
I really make sure that not only are they getting trained in all genres equally, but they are also being given the right business skills as well. It is about preparing them in a really well-rounded way.
Not all kids love tap, not all kids love ballet, not all kids love musical theater, not all kids want to learn how to sing,but they are going to. They have to. I was somebody, for instance, who wasn’t a skilled singer, but my teacher made me choose singing lessons. I always had my private singing lessons and then years later, one of my career highlights was a musical theater show.
What are some of the big business milestones that highlight your transition to becoming the ‘go-to’ studio?
I grew out of my first studio sooner than I thought, which was a big milestone. Within two years I started to look for a new space, and now I’ve got a space that is three times the size with five studios.
Launching our full-time pre-professional program was always my goal. When I got to do that,which included training up my students so they could feed that full-time course, it was a great moment.
I have just opened the agency too, which was all in my five-year plan.There was a movie recently that filmed on the Gold Coast and they needed a group of dancers, and I remember thinking at the time, “I need to have an agency so I can take care of them.”
I always had the agency in sight, but that really pushed me. There is a big corporate scene up here too with event companies, so quite a lot of opportunities are starting to happen around town.
Michelle Hopper Doyle is the CEO of Launch Performing Arts Centre in Queensland, Australia.
As a leader in the Australian dance industry, Michelle has worked extensively in the performing arts for more than 20 years. Her career has seen her work with the world’s best directors and choreographers including Baz Lurhmann, George Miller, David Atkins, Kelley Abbey, Wade Robson, The Squared Division, John O’Connel, Jason Coleman and Dein Perry.
With a career spanning over two decades, Michelle secured roles in major stage productions including Singin’ in the Rain playing the role of Cyd Cherise and Grease Arena Spectacular. She was cast in feature films including Moulin Rouge, The Great Gatsby, Happy Feet 1 and 2, Goddess, The Son of Mask and performed on screen for multiple prime time events and programs.
She has performed with leading music icons including KylieMinogue, Jessica Mauboy, Tina Arena, Guy Sebastian, Boyzone, Vanessa Amorosi, The Rogue Traders, Gabriella Cilmi, 30 Seconds to Mars, Cobra Starship, Macy Gray, Danni Minogue, Adam Lambert, Sheena Easton, Gloria Gaynor, Wynter Gordon, The Veronicas, and Sneaky Sound System.
Michelle lives on the Gold Coast in Australia with her husband and two children.
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