I started thinking about how much the students I had been teaching…would remember me…those kids remember those teachers forever…I needed to let the classroom be my stage (on choosing to teach).

Misty Lown

Founder , Misty's Dance Unlimited

We are talking with Misty Lown of Misty’s Dance Unlimited, we talk beginnings, her impetus for Misty’s Dance Unlimited, Ballet La Crosse, and covid and the adaptation of teaching dance in a studio. We also chat about what is coming up, and where people can find out more.
Misty Lown Transcript

Amy Gabay 00:05
We’re talking with Misty Lown of Misty’s Dance Unlimited. We talked beginnings, her impetus for Misty’s Dance Unlimited, Ballet La Crosse, and COVID and the adaptation of teaching dance in a studio. We also chat about what’s coming up and where people can find out more. You can find more conversations on our website, lacrosselocal.com. I’m Amy. And I’m Brent. And this is La Crosse Local.

Misty Lown 00:30
My name is Misty Lown. I was born right here in La Crosse. I was in Northsider for most of my life, spending the last few years on French Island. And I got into dance because of my mom. So as a kid, I had two things happening medically. And dance was the prescription. So one, I had childhood asthma. And of course, dance is great for strengthening the lungs. But most people don’t know that I was also born with a clubfoot. So when I was under the age of two, I had that surgically corrected. And for those who may not be familiar, I had one foot who did the right thing and the other one that went in. And ballet was recommended, because it’s based on the turnout of the feet. I have memories of being young and watching my dad do the therapy, turning that foot all the way to point to the back to try to strengthen that muscle just to get it to do the right thing. And of course, throughout that I fell in love with dance and happy to say that I can walk with my feet doing the right thing, and I can dance with them turned out.

Brent Hanifl 01:24
Well, that’s great. So what was the impetus for Mysty’s Dance Unlimited? How did that all come about? I mean, it sounds like you started dancing at a young age. What brought you from that in your youth to where you are now?

Misty Lown 01:35
Well, it’s a great story and one that I’d love to tell. So when I was in early college, I was really thinking about what I wanted to do for a career and I had settled my heart on being a professional dancer. Was so serious about it that I audition for a professional program in New York City called The Alvin Ailey American Dance center training program. I was accepted. And I came back to town and told everybody who would listen about my great path to go to the elite school in New York City. And then I watched the Ailey company perform at the Overture Center in Madison. And when I was watching, and I kid you not, it’s their iconic piece called Revelations, I had what I would call a revelation on my own, just a little God nudge in my heart, where I started thinking about how much the students I had been teaching at that time would remember me next week, next month, next year, and how much I was going to remember of that Revelations performance. And of course, those kids remember their teachers forever. And I would only remember small details of that performance. So I kind of did a slide in my seat, I knew that I would have to go home and tell the Ailey school that I wasn’t coming and that I needed to let the classroom be my stage. So it was that decision I’ve made on the on the way home from that performance. And I did call the elite school and then my second round of calls, telling people No, I’m actually not going to the elite school. I’m going to open a dance school, right here in the Coulee Region.

Brent Hanifl 02:56
You kind of mentioned how that got started. You also have Ballet La Crosse, how does that fit into the picture and the story?

Misty Lown 03:01
Oh, we do. It’s an amazing vehicle for students from Misty’s Dance Unlimited and beyond. We have kids from all over the Coulee Region who participate to get a taste of what professional ballet training would be like if they were in a professional training company. And what it would be like to be a part of a professional performance and I would love to take credit for this but I can’t. We had an amazing ballet master Mr. Kennet Oberly and this was his dream child, he just, he wanted to bring the synthesis of all of his world experiences, and to pay that forward to the next generation. And he did so with gusto. He helped us to build Ballet La Crosse to build our professional training program. And he did pass away from ALS several years ago, but we still honor his work, we still perform his work and certainly the spirit with which he built the program is very alive and well in our programs today.

Brent Hanifl 03:56
You’ve kind of mentioned how it’s helped you as a student, what do you hope students get out at participating in dance? I know my own daughter goes to your place off and on. She seems to come out of her shell from dancing. What do you hope the students get out of it?

Misty Lown 04:08
Oh, gosh, there’s so many benefits to dance. But my heart’s desire is that any kid in our program would just know that they have exceeding great worth that they were made to do amazing and wonderful things. And that they can use dance as this, dance is a gift and they can use it to be a gift to other people. We want our kids to get that lifelong sense of self worth that will benefit them well past their days of dancing. But we also want them to get life skills. We think dance is a great ground that you can learn how to get up when you fall down and to finish what you start and to care for your other teammates and those lessons in addition to that great self worth, you have value, and you have creativity, and you’re made awesome. We think that is a beautiful recipe for success as an adult.

Brent Hanifl 04:57
The big question on everybody’s mind over the past year, how is COVID affected, you know yourself in the studio? I know I’ve talked to a lot of different individuals and some have used it as a time to, to change, to adapt, to grow. How has it affected yourself?

Misty Lown 05:12
So in some ways COVID affected everything. And in some ways, it just made what we do and made that commitment to what we do the same and stronger even. So I’ll first address how it affected everything. Obviously, we weren’t allowed to be in our building for a period of time. And when we came back in, we had to put all sorts of new choreographic measures around everything, right, there’s a way to get in and out of the building and in and out of the classroom, but we gel in and we gel out, and there’s temperatures, there spots to stand on. We have Zoom classes and technology. So in that regard, it changed everything. But the thing that it didn’t change was our mission, our mission to be there for the kids to help build them up from the inside out to give them those life skills and lifelong relationships. In fact, the importance of that became even more important during COVID. Because we know that yes, dance helps with physical health, it keeps them active keeps them moving. But more importantly, perhaps it helps with their social emotional health and with their mental well being and for us, so we are more on fire for our mission today, Misty’s Dance Unlimited, then we probably were the day we opened.

Brent Hanifl 06:13
Yeah, it seems that people have used COVID to you know, really excel in some ways. It’s made people adapt. So you have something coming up where people can participate in multiple ways. The Little Mermaid is going to be coming out. Can you tell us about that?

Misty Lown 06:26
Yeah, so it’s a great show. It’s one that we’ve done before. And this is our first step back into a semi public performance, meaning that our parents will be able to participate in the performance, we’re going to do it on our in house stage, at Misty’s Dance Unlimited, and we’re going to do just the first act. To do the entire show would involve bringing in guest artists, we didn’t want to bring people in from across state lines in different communities. It would involve sets, different tech components. We wanted to say what are the elements of this beautiful storyline that we can produce in a one act format with the resources that we have. And so that’s what we came up with, was to produce the first act of the show, to do it in house, and to bring the parents in and to celebrate that almost exactly one year to date, from the time that everything changed for us. That in a sense, we’re back. And we’re back stronger than ever before. And we’re so proud to have the kids share the results of their perseverance with the parents.

Brent Hanifl 07:19
Well, that’s super exciting. And I’m sure the kids need it. I’m sure the families needed it as well. So if people want to find out more about the event, or just check out the dance studio, where can people find out more?

Misty Lown 07:29
We’d love to connect with you. We have websites for mistysdance.com and also for balletlacrosse.com. And of course, we’re on all the major social media outlets. So please check it out. Follow. It’s a great way to just get passive information about the arts, right, because we’re all scrolling through our phones anyway. And if you’ve engaged with any of our pages when we have something that’s important or exciting, you’ll be sure to see it in your feed.

Amy Gabay 07:55
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