Carina Schell was in first grade when she saw the "pretty pink" ballet tutu displayed in a store. She's been hooked on dance ever since.
Schell recently launched the ND Academy of Dance at 1122 Prairie Parkway in West Fargo.
"I knew that when I was in grade school, I really wanted to be a dance teacher when I grew up," said Schell, a 2004 Fargo South High School graduate, who's been dancing for 23 years.
Schell started teaching dance at age 13. After high school, she enrolled in the Royal Winnipeg Ballet's teacher training program studying several dance genres as well as pedagogy, music, anatomy, dance history and nutrition.
In May, Schell decided to start her own business and opened the ND Academy of Dance on Sept. 1, in the former Valley Sporting Goods location.
"It's just been one big summer project that turned into something really great," Schell said. "I think it's a good location. We searched high and low for the best location and square footage."
ND Academy of Dance teaches dancers age 2 and up. "Right now we're at about 150 students," Schell said.
Dance styles include ballet, jazz, hip-hop, lyrical, modern, pointe and children's, she said.
"We hope to see a lot of students from the West Fargo area," Schell said. Students have also enrolled from the Argusville and Kindred, N.D. areas, and Dilworth, on the Minnesota side of the Red River, she said.
Instructors include Madison Dancer, Ashley Hertwig, and Ashley Manske.
Dancer, a North Dakota State University sophomore studying elementary education, began dancing with Red River Dance at age 5. Her repertoire includes jazz, lyrical, ballet and pointe.
Hertwig, who has been involved in dance for 14 years, trained in ballet, jazz, hip-hop, lyrical/contemporary and musical theater at Lucille Murray's Studio of Dance in Monticello, Minn., her hometown.
Also an NDSU student, Hertwig is in her third year in the university's pharmacy program.
Mankse began dancing at age 7 at BritZa Dance Studio in Sioux Falls, S.D., studying ballet, pointe, jazz, tap and also doing some choreography. She was on the South Dakota State University dance team. She continued her training at the University of Montana in Missoula, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree with emphasis on dance. She has taught modern dance locally since 2009.
ND Academy of Dance will hold an open house from 2 to 4 p.m. Oct. 4. Regular office hours are from 3:30 to 9 p.m., Monday through Thursday and 3:30 to 6:30 on Friday.
Classes generally start at 4 p.m. and go throughout the evening, Schell said.
ND Academy of Dance students will be doing two performances, a winter recital on Jan. 23, 2016 at Davies High School and spring recitals May 22 and 27 at NDSU, she said.
"I think that dance just allows you to express yourself in a way that you can't in other things," Schell said.
For more information go online to www.ndacademyofdance.com for registration, contract information, pricing and class schedules.