This is Me...

Hey! A lot of you have been following Elevate Dance on Instagram, and / or interacting with me on Facebook. I'd like to introduce myself to you, so you know me a little bit better.

My name is Shannon Gallagher. I grew up just outside of Madison, Wisconsin. My parents also grew up here in Madison. They were high school sweethearts and 60+ years later, they're still married. They taught me how to love, how to be committed to the people I love and to the goals I have set for myself. I have an older brother. I adore him and I love the kindness that he shows others. And, he's a program director at a radio station, so it comes in handy when I need edited music! Ha! Sometimes a girl has to take advantage of things that are available to her!

I grew up dancing at the same studio that my mom grew up at. She began teaching dance there shortly after I started lessons (I was three). She loved teaching dance, but it's not lost on me that because she was teaching dance, I was able to experience some amazing things throughout my dance education. One of my most memorable (and probably most expensive) experiences is attending Ballet West's summer intensive in Aspen, Colorado. My ever-loving parents allowed me to audition for three summer intensives; Milwaukee Ballet, Pacific Northwest and Ballet West. I was accepted at all three. Placing their bets on me staying close to home and choosing Milwaukee, they told me I could pick whichever one I preferred. Well, they underestimated me and my longing to try something new! I chose Ballet West! I'd say now that those six weeks in Aspen in Ballet West's summer intensive became an inspiration for me and things to come later in my life.

Anyway, fast forward a couple of years... I joined the Duluth Ballet, in Duluth Minnesota. They're now called the Minnesota Ballet and they are a much larger ballet company than they were back then. I loved dancing in a ballet company, but I really missed my family. Funny, just a few years before, I couldn't wait to spend the summer in Colorado on my own. Actually living away from home is much different than spending six weeks away with your parents footing the bill! And so, after one season, I moved back to Madison, finished my college education at UW-Madison, and began teaching dance at the studio where I grew up. Dancing in a ballet company gave me new confidence. I knew I was giving a good class, and I loved how the dancers were growing in my class. I had found my true calling. I was meant to teach dance. I was meant to share this incredible gift that I had been given with children. And I was in love with dance all over again!

And, I wasn't just in love with dance... I met the love of my life at about the same time. His name is Chris, and we recently just celebrated our 25th Anniversary. Chris is the one who encouraged me to open my own dance studio. He kept asking me "Don't you want to own your own business? Be your own boss?". And I kept saying "Not really." The truth was, I was afraid to stand on stage with a microphone at the recital and speak!! That's it! That's all that was holding me back! When I finally realized that it was 2-3 minutes of nervousness vs. a lifetime of doing what I love, I decided I could do it. We opened our studio 23 years ago! Without Chris as my rock, I know I wouldn't have done it. His gentle nudges in the right direction have led me to every good decision I've made as an adult. He is my compass.

Chris is a snowboarder. He taught me first to ski and later to snowboard. Our first trip together was skiing in Breckenridge, Colorado. I fell in love with the town, but not so much with skiing. It was too much work. I had spent the majority of my life working on technique in dance, I didn't really find skiing enjoyable because I had to work on my technique. Anyway, there I was back in Colorado, in love with the winter and spending time with Chris there. We both love Breckenridge and Colorado so much that we named our son Brecken. He's 16 now. He's a snowboarder too. He danced for a few years, but his heart has always been in the mountains. And the mountains are in my heart too. First dance, then Chris and later Brecken. They've all drawn me to spend time in the mountains and it has definitely become my happy place.

So, how did I end up here, owning a dance studio and owning/operating Elevate Dance? I said earlier that my time at Ballet West summer intensive inspired me for the future. I had some of the most incredible master teachers at Ballet West and the stories they told and the love for dance they shared with us stuck with me all these years later. I've told this next part of the story before; I created activities for my own dance studio to help my faculty teach more than the steps. I spent months creating "games", printing questions and answers on little cards and laminating them - all in preparation for my studio to use them in class the following year. When I finally introduced the activities to my faculty and our students I found I had created something bigger than I had ever imagined. Once again, Chris was my compass. He pointed me in the direction I needed to go to see this newest endeavor come to life.

I think I've arrived at the best part of my life. I'm happily married. I have a successful dance studio. My son is an amazing kid. And now I'm using my love of dance and my creativity to share Elevate Dance with the world. I'll keep my compass nearby to lead me in the right direction. And I hope that someday that direction will lead me to possibly meeting you and helping your dance studio teach more than the steps with Elevate Dance.

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