Meet Hillary Parnell

Hillary Parnell

founder, Academy for the Performing Arts

Our driving force is knowing that the work we do with our dancers is so much more than teaching dance.

An Introduction: In addition to owning the Academy for the Performing Arts and Preschool for the Arts for the past 20 years, I am also an author, growth coach and consultant for the Dance Studio Owners Association, where I provide business advice to over a thousand dance studio owners. Through this program and other training courses I’ve developed, I help entrepreneurs around the world find financial freedom and a healthy work-life balance while doing what they love.

Origin Story: I started in the dance industry in 2001, after the company I was working for closed… I had no idea what to do next. I had always planned on owning a dance studio, but I didn’t think I could pull it off at only 21 years old. Luckily, I have extremely supportive parents, and I dove in headfirst.

Proud Moment: I am most proud that my small business has made it 20 years and reached a level of success that affords me the opportunity to pursue new ventures and be present for my family. While my exceptional team runs the studio day-to-day, I am free to grow other areas of the business, expand my own knowledge and spend time with my husband and four boys — Cooper, 11, Spencer, 10, Schaefer, 7, and Ledger, 6.

Recent Challenge: Dance is an outlet for so many of our students, a therapy. The last thing our dancers needed during (the pandemic) was to stop dancing. We did everything we could to provide that therapy for our students, because their mental health and well-being depended on it. My staff and I knew that we needed to be strong and positive role models for our students.

True Fact: Even though I have dedicated my life to a career in the dance industry, I never danced professionally or even after high school. I was just a regular kid who danced growing up.

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