Fancy Feet celebrates 30 years

Calling all dancers! Fancy Feet Dance Studio is celebrating 30 years of teaching dance to children and adults.

The dance studio, which has five classrooms in two locations at 1628 Crosby Avenue and 1295 Allerton Avenue, was founded in Throggs Neck in 1980 by Susan Mendogni. She was then a 19-year-old dance major at Queens College. In her first year she had 50 students, followed by 100 students her second, and 300 in her third year.

Since then, Mendogni has never looked back. After renting space at the Vince Lombardi Veterans Hall, she opened her Crosby Avenue location in 1983. Today, the school has over 1,000 students.

Fancy Feet Dance Studio provides instruction with over 100 different classes for children who are 18 months old to adults, including boys and girls. The majority of the students are children, and Mendgoni said that parents keep bringing their children because they know they will be cared for in a safe and nurturing environment.

“I have danced my entire life and have a passion for it, and I think that it shows,” Mendogni said. “I strive to make it a warm and loving environment for the kids because in the past I have had dance teachers who were not always very warm. I want to make sure that my kids love dance and have fun.”

Among the dance classes offered are contemporary, lyrical, creative movement, salsa, modern combo, ballet, tap, pointe, lyrical gymnastics, jazz and hip-hop. Mendogni said that she and her instructors are always staying up to date on the latest trends in dance. She attributes Fancy Feet Dance Studio’s longevity to her and her staff’s ability to nurture the children, and offer a variety of classes.

“Our instructors have come to us from MTV, professional dance companies, and Broadway,” Mendogni said. “We have a competition dance team that has grown from 25 to 75 students in recent years, and has performed at Walt Disney World three times, on Norwegian Cruiselines, and we have been invited to perform at the London 2012 Olympics and Lincoln Center.”

Some of Mendogni’s students have even worked with the rapper/producer Diddy (Sean Combs).

A number of her students have gone on to careers in professional dance, often into arts high schools or colleges where an audition is required. However, Mendogni is aware that for most students, the ability to dance is something learned just for enjoyment, and also enhances self-esteem. Some children she taught in the early 1980s are coming back and bringing their own kids.

“I think that shows we have become a pillar of the community,” Mendogni said. “People trust me because they know that their kids will be safe.”

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