It was August of 2002 when a mother-daughter team signed a lease to open their Murrieta dance studio.
As Studio 31 Dance Center celebrates its 10-year anniversary this month, owners Karol and Kellie Matthews have much to be proud of: their competitive dance teams took first, second and third place at Thunderstruck International Dance Finals Competition, held June 29-July 2 in Las Vegas, Nev.
"This season has been the best; this year it has really clicked," said daughter, Kellie. "We have had amazing staff and dancers. It was just like the cherry on top of everything—this season."
Combined, the mother-daughter team has more than 60 years of experience.
Karol was as a ballerina in Japan and then Miami before becoming a teacher.
Kellie—the granddaughter of a Rockettes dancer who was related to music great Hoagy Carmichael—danced in Miami and Los Angeles before she suffered a debilitating knee injury and decided to become a teacher.
Tucked in the Alta Murrieta Shopping Center, offers recreational dance as well as competition dance.
"When we have auditions we try to make a spot for every dancer who comes in," Kellie said.
It seems to be a good strategy.
In Las Vegas, the studio's teen tappers, ages 12-14, were selected as first-place Overall National Showcase Champions out of more than 600 entries, Kellie said. The juniors, ages 9-11, were second place, and the seniors, ages 15-19, earned third place.
Prior to that, Kellie said, the studio's junior jazz competition team won the national championship in 2011.
So there was much to celebrate when Studio 31 held its annual dance recital July 21-22 at Bob Burton Theatre in Fallbrook.
Kellie was pleased to announce the studio has signed another lease. The pair opened the studio after signing a five-year lease. Two years into it, they expanded to 8,000-square-feet and signed on for a total of 10 years.
Not so long ago, extending their lease may not have been possible, she said.
"We started 10 years ago with 50 students, then we went to well over 350 but when the housing market crashed we were hit hard. Since that time, we are gradually getting back to 250 now."
The first class is always offered for free and there are no registration fees, she said.
"We have a huge appreciation for anyone who has ever entered our studio and we are thankful to the community for continuing to keep us open."
Editor's note: This article has been corrected to state that Studio 31 Dance Center co-owner Kellie Matthews was related to music great Hoagy Carmichael (1899-1991), not his granddaughter. Patch apologizes for the error.