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Gazette Readers' Choice: DanceCo named best dance studio

"I couldn't do it without the teachers, but the reality is I couldn't do it with the dancers."
2206 RC DanceCo ab CC
DanceCo was voted best studio in The Gazette's 2022 Readers' Choice Awards. ANNA BOROWIECKI/St. Albert Gazette

One step inside DanceCo’s foyer and the trophies inside — more than 50 line shelves, counters, and nooks — sparkle in the sun.

It's clear, from the glimmering hardware, that the McKenney Avenue dance studio's students punch above their weight in performance as well as competition. 

Last week DanceCo added one more accolade to its prestigious list — the St. Albert Gazette 2022 Readers’ Choice Award for best dance studio. 

“I’m honoured. It’s amazing and I’m so thankful. I have no words. The people who you want to come are saying they like what you do. I couldn’t do without the teachers, but the reality is I couldn’t do it without the dancers,” said owner Tracey Knott. 

Unlike many studios where the owner is a also a professional dancer, Knott’s expertise is in administration. The founding owner Lianne Litven started teaching classes in 1995. Knott came on board in 1996 on the administrative end of the business. About 15 years ago, Knott became a partner, and five years ago took on the responsibilities of full ownership. 

“In some ways it’s worked out well. I’m super appreciative of anyone who can dance, but I don’t have to focus on the creative side. It leaves me more time to run the business end,” said Knott.  

Although the St. Albert resident is a 26-year veteran of the industry, she doesn’t have any plans to retire. It’s the young dancers who keep her young. 

“It’s the kids for sure. They are great. At times it feels hectic, but it’s a good energy. There’s music and the kids are happy. They bring a good attitude about life.” 

DanceCo currently teaches close to 1,000 students — about 650 dancers at the St. Albert location and another 350 at the north Edmonton location. 

“We started the Edmonton location about 10 years ago. I’m originally from north Edmonton and we had so many people from north Edmonton bring their kids to St. Albert. They asked, ‘Why not open a location in north Edmonton' and it’s worked out amazingly well.” 

Knott employs 40 people — six at the administrative end and the rest as instructors teaching ballet, jazz, tap, hip hop, contemporary dance, lyrical, musical theatre, and acro. DanceCo also runs a daytime playschool bearing its own Happy Heart identity. 

“The main reason I’m still here and doing well is because of my staff. I can’t know each dancer, but they know each child personally. My staff is amazing, and I could not do this without them.” 

This season the studio has made a low-key return to recitals and competitions. It is even planning to send a group of dancers to take part in workshops and dance performances at Disneyland in 2023. The one-week bonding trip was a biannual tradition that ground to a halt during the pandemic lockdown. 

In addition to hired staff, Knott’s daughters, Teri and Brittany, work at the studio. 

“We are a unit. It works because we come at things from different angles. I have more experience and can see how things work. My daughters are younger, and they bring fresh ideas. It’s good for all generations to be close and learn from the past, but we need to keep an eye on the future, too.” 

Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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