Apple Valley dance studio celebrates 40 years
Dancing since the age of 7 and trained as a ballerina in Europe, Monique Kampa is a believer in dance’s ability to build better people.
“Dancing is good for you – physically, of course, but for poise and self-confidence as well,” said Kampa, a former ballerina with the Geneva Opera Company in Switzerland.
That philosophy has served Kampa well as founder and director of Monique School of Dance in Apple Valley, which this year is celebrating its 40th anniversary.
The studio has been a family affair from the beginning. Kampa’s daughter, Patti Swedberg, has been studio manager since it opened in 1972 in the Valley Ridge Shopping Center in Burnsville. Her other daughter, Cindy Kampa, serves as company director.
Two years after it opened, the studio moved to Apple Valley, setting up shop at 147th Street and Pennock Avenue on the site of what is now Rascal’s Bar and Grill. It moved to its current location, just across the street from Rascal’s, in 1981, when what was then a roller skating rink was put up for sale.
“I came over and saw these beautiful wood floors and knew it was the place,” said Kampa, known to her students simply as Miss Monique.
The studio, which currently has about 250 students, offers ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop and other styles of dance.
“We teach pretty much everything,” said Swedberg.
“Everything except pole dancing,” Kampa added with a laugh.
Over the years Kampa has seen many of her students enter the ranks of professional dance. Former students have performed with the Moulin Rouge in Paris, danced with the Radio City Rockettes in New York City, and appeared in a host of Hollywood films including “The Blues Brothers.”
Twice a group of Kampa’s dancers have appeared in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, in 2001 and 2011. That first appearance was especially memorable, coming just months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“We visited Ground Zero,” she recounted. “It was very emotional for all the girls to go through.”
Kampa, who before she opened her own studio was a teacher with the Andahazy Borealis Ballet Company in St. Paul, said she doesn’t have plans to retire anytime soon.
“My first ballet teacher was 90,” said Kampa. “I don’t plan on teaching until I’m 90, but I plan on teaching a few more years.”
Monique School of Dance is celebrating its 40th anniversary with two recitals this week at the Burnsville Performing Arts Center. The performances, titled “Dancing Through the Decades,” will be at 7 p.m. June 13 and 14; ticket information is at www.burnsvillepac.com.