Montage Dance Studio’s owner, Lauren Hoskins, 31, is a Santa Clara native whose love of dance began the instant she set foot on the dance floor.
“I started dancing when I was 12,” she said. “I fell in love with it instantly. It’s a great outlet.”
At 16, Hoskins began assistant teaching, only to lead classes a year later. She then joined a dance group, Funkanometry, and expanded her skills by teaching students with disabilities. At 20, Hoskins began Montage Dance Productions when she put on a show at Santa Clara High School, and five years ago, Montage Dance Productions began producing a large, local dance competition, held at the Santa Clara Convention Center the first weekend in December.
Yet, when Hoskins was first approached about taking over a small Willow Glen studio three years ago when the owner could no longer run the business, she declined. Days later, she accepted the offer, changed the name to Montage Dance Studio and began building and expanding her business, always knowing she wanted to move it to the exact spot the studio is now located in Kiely Plaza. As soon as the unit became available, Hoskins immediately signed a lease and took a do-it-yourself approach by installing the floors with the help of her husband.
Although Hoskins said there are still cosmetic changes she would like to make, she’s focused on making the studio a welcoming place for everyone who walks through the door. And, while Montage’s class offerings range in instruction for students aged two-and-a-half to adult in styles ranging from hip hop to k-pop, Hoskins said it’s the culture, not the classes, that set it apart from other studios.
“I think what’s unique to us is more of the culture and the teachers and the community we’ve made at this studio versus the styles,” she said. “Our teachers are not only amazing dancers and instructors, but they’re the nicest people ever. There’s no judgment here at the studio, at all.”
In addition offering dance classes, some adult students are invited to join non-competitive hip hop and contemporary dance companies that perform within the community. Children, too, may be asked to join Montage’s PC (Performing Company) or a teen hip hop group, and the studio recently began a monthly dance workshop, The Session, where popular dancers are invited to teach a class. Hoskins also gives back to the community by teaching dance at a retirement home three times a week and coaching the Santa Clara High School pom squad, which practices at the studio.
Hoskins said that although she loves her job, being a small business owner is difficult, as she’s still struggling to break even, and that it has been hard to juggle all of the hats she has had to wear for the past three years. Still, she said she’s excited about the future and extremely thankful to be surrounded by supportive people.
“You can see the community being built and the bonds between people growing,” she said. “Every time we have an event or show, people are literally hanging out in the lobby after class talking to people. That’s super cool to me because, for me, that’s what dance was. Watching people experience the same love and community for dance as I did and I needed so badly growing up, is why I do it. I see kids come in super upset and walk out smiling. For that hour that they’re here, they’re having fun, they’re learning, they’re growing, so that’s super cool to see. The same with adults; they’ll say they had a really bad day and that dance was so much fun. For me, the biggest compliment is when people invite other people to the studio because they’re having fun.”
Montage Dance Studio is at 1090 Kiely Blvd. on the corner of Kiely Boulevard and Benton Street. For more information, visit www.montagedanceproductions.com.