From a tiny ballerina starting out here in Invermere B.C. to an accomplished hip-hop dancer training in Calgary A.B.. Michelle (Meesh) Jensen has transformed from a studio kid to the co-owner of Invermere’s United Dance studio.
“Originally I did ballet, tap, jazz the whole full on studio kid. It wasn’t until I was about 19 when I switched and started training hip-hop,” said Jensen.
After graduating high school Jensen figured she would not continue with dance, but after getting accepted to the dance program at the University of Calgary that all changed. She began her studies at University of Calgary, during that time her teacher opened her own hip-hop studio in Calgary. Jensen was offered a position to start teaching kids programs at the new studio, which she did for two years. During her time at the hip-hop studio Jensen began her training in hip-hop leading to a mentorship opportunity.
“Through the same studio she (her dance teacher)brought in a guest teacher from Toronto named Lenny Len and from there he sorta hand picked some dancers from that studio that he wanted to train further. So he put this crew together called the TOMORROWS. I was part of it and started training under him,” said Jensen.
For Jensen the mentorship was an opportunity she dreamed of only a year prior to being asked to join the TOMORROWS.
“I remember the year prior to that thinking oh it would be so amazing to be mentored by Lenny, I wish I could do that. Then a year later he came up to us and said I want to start this crew to further train the dancers that I’ve noticed are ready for it,” said Jensen.
The dance crew wasn’t a competition based team rather a performance group that travelled around Calgary and Edmonton. The TOMORROWS provided Jensen with some unique opportunities and experiences she wouldn’t have gotten if she stopped dancing after high school.
“They brought us out to edmonton to dance backup for a singer, her name is Inez Jasper. That was always my dream to dance with a touring artist and we also did several video shoots. Which was one of the coolest experiences i’ve probably ever had to be onset with professional videographer and director doing what you love,” said Jensen.
After returning home to Invermere Jensen stopped training with the dance crew and now focuses her energy on training the next generation of dancers. Jensen was exploring her options to return home and continue doing what she loved when she got a phone call from Melyssa Hecher.
“Melyssa called me and said hey I’m moving back to invermere, I’m going to start a studio and so we decided to go in on it together just by fluke it completely worked out so it’s been quite a year,” said Jensen.
The co-owners of United Dance train 120 students with 40 of which are competing at different competitions in Calgary and Banff. Four of those 120 students have been students of Jensen’s since she was a teachers assistant at Aspire dance studio when she was in high school.
“I had developed those relationships with them early on and then I started dancing in Calgary. I would come back once or twice a year and set some choreography on them so to a certain extent I was always a teacher to them,” said Jensen.
Looking back at her dance career Jensen has two stand out performances as her favourites. Both ballet numbers that were performed in back to back years while Jensen was in high school. The first one was a bat dance where the dancers had to climb on a scaffolding. The other was an egyptian themed dance where the dancers got intense glittery makeup. Now as an instructor Jensen says her favourite dance is the senior hip-hop class’s dance titled The One.
“All of our kids have come a long way but it’s been really cool to see. When we first taught them that choreography it was quite a struggle and now they have it and it looks incredible,” said Jensen.
From starting out as a four year old dancer to a dance crew member to now a dance studio co-owner Meesh Jensen’s dance career has been extensive. Looking to the future she is preparing for the second year at United Dance to provide future generations the opportunity to try dance.
“I want to be able to give them opportunities that didn’t exist in this town when I was a kid,” said Jensen.
United Dance registration for next season opens June1st class list are available at http://www.unitedancebc.com/#!classes/c1t44