Since the young age of three, Monica Szabo has never stopped dancing.
From professional dance teams to adjudicating competitions, her background in the art of dance is quite extensive. Having graduated from a performing arts high school in Toronto and working with professional dancers and choreographers throughout North America, life in the dance world has always kept Szabo busy.
So when she became pregnant with her first child just two years ago, she traded her fast paced, action packed lifestyle for a more calm, slower paced one.
Looking for a more family friendly neighbourhood to live in, she and her husband Dave and their 15 month old daughter, Parker, packed up their life in Toronto and moved to Bradford just this past summer.
“It’s far enough away from the city, but close enough,” she said.
She soon realized that chasing after a toddler all day did not give her the freedom and flexibility she once had before, travelling across the country to teach choreography and judging dance competitions was just out of the question now that she was a mother.
She wanted to be close to home and family.
“I wanted to raise her,” she explained about her motherhood journey.
Not wanting to give up the dance life completely, she decided she would open her own dance studio right in Bradford. In September, she officially opened Parker Autumn Dance Company, named after her daughter.
Szabo has been teaching dance for the past 17 years, which she says has been rewarding in many aspects.
“My main focus is children. I love children and I really believe in having children in afterschool programs to keep them busy,” she shared.
“Whether it’s dance or hockey, I feel it’s so important,” she explained about extracurriculars. “It’s a huge benefit to any child, it keeps them active and healthy.”
In the past, she has worked with a lot of youth and noted how much dance helped many of them, socially and physically.
“That’s why I danced, having that release to express yourself,” she reflected.
Originally she planned to open the dance studio in the basement of her home but after doing research ended up acquiring space from Bradford District High School (BDHS), who have their own dance studio.
As her company grows, she hopes to one day acquire her own commercial space in town to host her classes.
“The community is growing so much, so there’s room for options,” she said.
Currently she has 15 students enrolled with her company, ranging in ages three to 12, made up mostly of neighbours in her subdivision, and word of mouth referrals.
As a new Bradford business owner, she is hoping to make more connections with other members in the business community and fellow dance studios.
Szabo is a trained professional with Dance Educators of America and certified through the Royal Academy of Dance. With her strong ties and connections to the dance industry, she plans to bring in cutting edge and progressive workshops and classes to the people of Bradford.
She is passionate about the art of dance, continuously studying new techniques and styles, developing new ways to breakdown choreography so that "students have a better understanding of their bodies and how to use them.”
The studio currently offers a variety of dance classes three nights a week at BDHS. Any child interested in dance is encouraged to join in at any time.
At the end of the school year, in June, the studio will be putting on a recital, showcasing what they have learned during the lessons.
To learn more about the company and classes currently offered, check out their website here.