WAITE PARK -- From the time she put on her first ballet slippers to becoming a professional dancer, Melinda Tamm has since created one of the most thriving dance studios in central Minnesota.

"I opened in 2006 with a dream of opening a dance studio that kids from different communities can come together and dance and have the passion for that."

Over 800 dancers walk through the doors of Ms. Melinda's every week to learn more than a dance.

"In the 13 years, I've learned it's much more than a dance studio, it's now a second home for a lot of kids. It's their friendship building place, it's where they find their confidence and their strength to grow as an individual."

Ms. Melinda's has made it on our Thriving Local list. Tamm says she started dancing as a child and just couldn't give it up after her senior year.

"After high school, I took a few months off and thought okay I'm going to be done as a dancer and then decided I missed it. I then went off to try out for the NFL."

After cheering for the Minnesota Vikings she went on to choreograph routines for other NFL cheerleading teams. She says this gave her the experience she needed to open her own studio.

"It gave me a lot of tools of how to run different performances of the organization. Just that skill set of how to run large groups of women for the most part."

Thirteen years ago Tamm created the business in a small but effective space.

"We started off in a 3,000 square foot building that we rented for four years. We knew that with our curriculum and all of the different extra offers we provide for the parents that we were growing."

Four years after starting, they moved to a larger location but Tamm says it still wasn't quite meeting their needs.

"As we started to grow there I decided I wanted to really make sure that we have a backbone for myself too and not just renting a space but owning equity in land and a building. So I bought this space of the land and the building we started building two years ago because I was pregnant with my son at the time. So two years ago and we've been here now for a year and a half."

Their current facility at 454 Great Oak Drive in Waite Park is nearly five times the size of their first location. Tamm says the space ensures she can provide a variety of classes and continue to grow.

"We start them off at two-years-old with our little Tiny Tots (class) and they learn motion dances, rhythms and balancing. And then it grows into our recreational program and that they can do all the way until their senior year."

Ms. Melinda's has ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop, and acrobatic dance classes. They also have competition teams. Tamm says they are always looking to add new classes.

But it's more than just dance, Tamm says the lessons dancers learn will last a lifetime and hearing about where they end up in life makes her job that much more rewarding.

"Getting letters, texts, emails or little Snapchats saying what we've done that helped them grow - so it's not always about the fancy awards of winning, which is fun for that short amount of time but it's the long lasting things that the kids tell us that really makes a difference."

In the words of Ms. Melinda's - "Dreams begin with a dance."

If you're interested in signing up your child for dance classes you can follow the link below.

If you have a suggestion for a business that's thriving locally here in central Minnesota, let us know! Email chrissy@wjon.com

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