SAN JOSE − A lifelong dance enthusiast, Kelly Hodge traded the competitive intensity of professional performance for a rewarding career as an instructor. “I’ve been dancing since I was three years old,” she says. “After college, I went to San Francisco to pursue a career as a performer, but I found the industry to be extremely competitive. After about a year, I decided I wasn’t suited for the cutthroat nature of the industry.” Despite losing her appetite for the rigors of performance, Kelly hoped to retain a livelihood connected to her lifelong passion. Fortunately, she was able to find a professional role more suited to her disposition. “I had previously taught dance during high school and enjoyed working with kids, so I decided to change my focus from performance to teaching.” Not long after re-entering the field of instruction, Kelly found an opportunity to open her own dance studio.
Today, as owner of Ballare Dance Centre, Kelly says one of her favorite parts of her job is seeing her choreography come to life. “I do all my own choreography, so I enjoy the process of bringing that to fruition. It’s very fulfilling to see my students take the vision I have and actually portray it through their movements on stage.”
A lifetime resident of San Jose (where she lives with her husband, Tim, and their son, Joey), Kelly appreciates the family-friendly feel of California’s third-largest city. “Besides my own family being here, whom I’m very close with, I feel like there’s a more family-centered vibe in the Silicon Valley nowadays. As for my studio, I try to maintain a family-oriented atmosphere and make things comfortable for my students and their parents.”
Outside of work, Kelly splits her free time between outdoor pursuits and at-home hobbies. “My family and I enjoy camping, going to the beach and taking our boat to local lakes,” she affirms. “I also do a lot of sewing, especially costumes, as well as baking.”
In regard to her professional career, Kelly says a crucial part of teaching children is building relationships. “One thing I’ve learned as an instructor is the importance of getting to know your dancers. Every child comes from a different background and circumstances, and every child learns differently, so you have to be sensitive to these things when working with them. I find the more I get to know my dancers and their families, the better I can understand and respond to their particular needs.”
When asked the first thing she’d do if she were to retire tomorrow, Kelly gives an unexpected reply. “I’d probably make dinner,” she laughs. “Only because I never do—I teach from four in the afternoon until nine at night, so it’s just not in my schedule.”