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History and Philosophy


The Beginning

Mary M. Cummings founded Accent on Dance Studios in 1978. Her passion for dance began at the age of five when her mother had the insight to give her the gift of dance. Mary realized she had a unique ability to touch other people’s lives through the teaching of dance and set out to make a difference. Her dream started with humble beginnings in the basement of Bluemound Bowl. One “studio”, one teacher, and 70 students. In the next 7 years with the support of loyal students and friends, a strong family atmosphere was created. This, along with becoming known for outstanding year-end productions, helped AOD expand into two small studios in two different locations. Shortly after in 1989, Accent on Dance attended its first competition, the “Stars of Tomorrow” Talent Showcase at Brookfield Square. AOD was 1 of 20 routines competing a variety of talents and took 4th place.

1990's - 2000's

In the years following, Mary continued to grow AOD and develop programs, attend conventions and competitions, and become known for outstanding year-end recitals. In 1997 Accent On Dance moved to Waukesha to a larger state of the art facility. In 2003 Dance Spirit magazine profiled Accent on Dance as one of the top dance studios to watch out for in the nation! In the fall of 2004, Mary’s daughter Kellie Plath, AOD nationally award winning Company Director and creative influence for the past 20 years, became owner and Artistic Director of the studio. Kellie was joined by her husband Chris who previously was the owner of a small Chicago area printing company and printing executive.

The Passion Continues

Many former students are now dancing and performing professionally, teaching on faculty, or bringing their children or grandchildren back to AOD. In 2009 Dancer Magazine voted Accent on Dance the number one studio in Wisconsin! In the summer of 2010 Kellie and her former student Mara Perugini opened a satellite studio in Mukwonago, Wisconsin. In 2013 after 16 years at the Eastmound Dr. location, Accent On Dance opened it’s doors to a brand new state of the art dance complex located on Watertown Rd. in Pewaukee. AOD was voted Milwaukee areas best dance studio of 2016. In 2018 Accent on Dance celebrated our 40th anniversary. AOD continues to be a welcoming, healthy, inspiring, value oriented place for hundreds of dancers each year. Accent On Dance is proud to offer something for every age and ability through it’s Recreational, Regional and National Team programs. The staff and faculty look forward to the future and continue to strive to make a difference in a dancers’s life.

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