Schoolcraft Dance Studio Has New Owners

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By Jef Rietsma

Donald and Jessica Korff’s introduction to the world of dance started when the first of their four children was 2. Little did they know 13 years ago that their daughter, Madison, would continue a passion that ultimately led them to an improbable business decision – to become the owners of Dream to Inspire dance studio, formerly Xtreme Dance Sports, in downtown Schoolcraft.

Jessica Korff said even though she and her husband didn’t plan to own a dance studio, the concept wasn’t too far-fetched as Madison and her two sisters grew up.

“We have four kids now, three girls and a boy, and the girls are all dancers,” she said. “Over the years, we have spent our share of time involved in dance in some capacity or another.”

Marcellus residents, 42-year-old Donald and 40-year-old Jessica said they had been with Xtreme for a few years after stops at other dance studios in Kalamazoo and Dowagiac. As Madison’s skills improved, her need for stronger challenges arose, said Jessica.

That led them to Xtreme, where they followed a ballet instructor from Dowagiac to Schoolcraft. As they found when they left the Kalamazoo studio for Dowagaic, the Korffs knew it was tough to say goodbye.

“Anybody who’s in dance knows you create bonds with other parents and the kids create bonds with their classmates, so leaving the other studios was difficult in that sense,” she said. “But Madison had reached a plateau and we asked her ‘How badly do you want to pursue this?’ She did, so, we moved on and up.”

Jessica said advice she had heard more than once indicated anyone who wants to attempt a career in dance needs to have a sound ballet foundation. The move to Xtreme paid dividends in Madison’s development. Thirteen-year-old sister Mackenzie and 7-year-old sibling Amarissa have followed suit.

Then, last fall, the Korffs were pulled aside by Xtreme owner Annie Pifer, whose daughter is a high school senior.

“In short, Annie said her daughter was moving on (to college), so she was considering selling the business and she saw long-term potential in us, meaning our youngest is 7 years old and we would have at least 10 more years of dance classes,” Donald said.

Discussing the proposal afterward, Jessica said while her husband was on board with the idea immediately, she preferred to think about it for a while.

Donald is a math and finance teacher at Marcellus High School; Jessica home-schools her children. They also oversee a consulting firm for home-school families. With that in mind, there were some logistics to consider.

Dance, however is an after-school event, so there were no conflicts with their professional lives. Still, the two plan to oversee Dream to Inspire on a full-time basis.

“Annie started Xcel from her basement and grew it to a respected level that it is today,” Donald said. “There’s an expectation that we’ll maintain that high level of programming and we are committed to that.”

In addition to a sterling reputation, he said, the studio has the benefit of an ideal geographic location. Its roster of more than 130 dancers includes clients from Three Rivers, Marcellus, Kalamazoo, Portage, Vicksburg, Schoolcraft and other outlying communities.

The Korffs have a 9-year-old son who is less enthusiastic about the dance studio.

“I think he’d be a little more excited if it was a tae kwon do studio instead,” Donald said.

Dream to Inspire is located at 403 N. Grand St. Its phone number is 919-2700 and website is dreamtoinspire.org.

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