IPAC Fosters Creativity in Mahtomedi

The class level of each individual determines what color leotard they wear, for example, the performance troupes wear black leotards.

Lauren Martin found her love for performing arts early in life. “My mom put me in dance class when I was two, and my love for the arts grew from there,” she says.

Although she knew she had a passion for the arts, Martin wasn’t sure if dance was the path she wanted to take for her focus. Martin’s mom, though, says she “always knew dance was Lauren’s destiny.” What started out as a hobby slowly became more serious as Martin got older.

“I danced all through high school at a local studio,” says Martin. She decided to not take any dance classes her first semester in college, she says. But after missing it, she realized dance really was something she wanted to continue. Martin signed up for three dance classes the next semester. By the end of her first year, she had declared a dance major with a minor in child psychology.

From there, Martin’s path became clear. She gathered her creative talents and love for the arts and joined Inspiration Performing Arts Center (IPAC). Now the owner and studio director, Martin has used IPAC as a platform to support all types of creatives. There are classes in dance and more, and classes are not just limited to children.

The school is 13 years old and has been in Mahtomedi for the last eight. During this time, IPAC has made a name for itself. With classes including ballet, acting, voice lessons and yoga, it’s not hard to imagine why. For creative people of all abilities, and those without arts experience wanting to try something new to expressing their creativity, IPAC is a one-stop shop.

“We have a wide variety of students,” says Martin. “And the studio gives many different options for what students might be interested in. Some are just there to have fun and love to perform in our annual Christmas and spring shows.” The jazz and hip hop classes, or the ballet and tap, tend to be popular options with these students. Other students prefer a more professional track.

IPAC’s Premiere Company is a career-oriented class covering dance history, dance terminology, choreography composition and resume building. There are also performance troupes which give students an opportunity to gain additional performance experience and training.
While IPAC offers dance classes for ages 3 and up, most of the classes are structured similarly no matter the age. “We have a set, in-house curated curriculum that we have developed that is age-appropriate for what they should be learning at that time, and that is what will differ as students get older,” Martin says.

Classes begin with warm-ups. Ballet dancers start at the ballet barre, while jazz and hip hop dancers will start with a more physical warmup to move their bodies. “Our assistant studio director, Miss Stephanie, likes to start her classes with dance tag so students are warming up, learning vocabulary and also working on technique at once,” Martin says.

The IPAC team tries to fit fun dance-related games into their classes to ensure enjoyment in the studio, but they also remind students that creativity is most welcome. “If we have time towards the end of class, we will play Freeze Dance, giving dancers an opportunity to hone their craft and give them time to express themselves and create their own movement,” she says.
While gaining dance skills is a large part of IPAC’s mission, cultivating a passion for the arts in an uplifting atmosphere and learning how to use those skills in a way that works for each individual student is also an important part of the class. “The arts promote creativity and a positive way for students to express themselves,” Martin says. By experimenting with the moves, students are better able to gain self-esteem.
“The arts teach students discipline and leadership,” Martin says. The things students learn at IPAC teaches them something about dance, “but also what they learn also follows them throughout life in each and every aspect of their journey.”

Martin and their team don’t just stop at inspiring dancers. Their musical theater class is also popular among students who are looking for a little more than just dancing.

“Musical theater class combines song, acting and dancing all into one. Think Broadway,” says Martin. A typical class will begin with warmups and acting games. Eventually, the students will put dance movements to the words they’re singing to “combine it all into one performance!” says Martin.

And if dancing isn’t quite your thing, there are still plenty of options. Students can take acting classes, as well as music lessons in guitar, piano voice and art. “Piano with Miss Elsa is definitely popular at the center; her schedule usually fills up each season,” says Martin.

Dance classes range from $55 to $75 per month depending on the length of the class, while Performance Troupe prices range from $95 to $325, based on which troupe the student falls into. Private music lessons range from $112 to $220 per month.

In addition to the range of options, IPAC stands out because of its dedication to building confidence and self-esteem. The teaching staff works hard to help their students flourish, says Martin. “We absolutely love watching our students take what they learn on the dance floor and grow into amazing, beautiful and inspiring people,” Martin says.

To build excellence within the studio, IPAC starts with a solid foundation of talented instructors.  Much of the staff are experienced teachers, but young talent also has a chance at IPAC. “We also reach out to colleges that offer a track in dance and music education,” Martin says.

With over 13 instructors and  over 60 troupe mentors to choose from, students can learn from a variety of people who are highly skilled in their fields. It turns out Martin’s mom was right—dance was her destiny, and at IPAC, she’s fostered an environment to better herself and everyone else who walks into the studio.