Mary Mele

Owner & Creative Director

As a child, Mary began her dance career in Virginia. Since then she has danced for various dance studios and companies in Virginia and Florida. During her college career, she was the Dance Director for an after school program in Gainesville, FL while attending the University of Florida. In May of 2009, Mary graduated with her Masters Degree in Education from the University of Florida with concentrations in Special Education & Children’s Literacy. In August of 2009, her very own studio and business was born.  Throughout the years Mary has also enjoyed careers as a Kindergarten Teacher, a Middle School Math Teacher, Preschool Movement Teacher, and a Professional Dance Competition Adjudicator for the Star Dance Alliance.

During her now 14 year career as a business owner, Mary has become heavily involved in the Gainesville Community. She loves participating as a Newberry Chamber of Commerce Board Member, Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce Member, and in 2011 she received a very special award from the Gainesville Area Chamber: Business of the Year: Woman in Leadership. Throughout the community and beyond, she has had the opportunity for her choreography to be performed at the University of Florida, the Half Time Show of the Harlem Globetrotters, Orlando Magic game pre-show, Walt Disney World and many other local community events & fundraisers.  Aside from running her studio business, Mary loves traveling to judge for various competitions as well as to set choreography work around the country for other competitive dance companies and studios.

Over the years IndepenDANCE Studio has been in business, Mary is proud to see her students graduate and continue their arts education in big ways! This is her favorite part of her job: the success, growth, and happiness of her students. As a proud member of Rhee Gold’s IDEA (International Dance Entrepreneurs Association) & NDEO (National Dance Education Organization), Mary’s interests include bridging the gap for dance studios entering into Higher Education dance programs, collaborating with fellow studio owners around the country and providing her staff with the most current certifications, training and professional development opportunities . She strongly believes all dancers can work hard and continue their dance education and career in various avenues, and looks forward to having more opportunities to help dancers navigate successful career paths in the arts.

During her career, Mary has had the opportunity to dance under many choreographers and master teachers she immensely admires. She has also participated in classes and workshops at the Broadway Dance Center and the Alvin Ailey School of Dance in New York City, NY. Mary has been honored with numerous awards and recognition for choreography, performance, student technique, as well as overall high score awards at various regional and national competitions. Mary believes the all students should have the opportunity to “Find Their Light”. This is something one of her favorite dance instructors Ms. Anna always told her and her classmates when she was young – and well, it stuck. Girls, boys, women, men, young, in-between, and older – everyone is welcome and encouraged to find their niche at her studio. Mary hopes to pass this message on to all dancers she comes in contact with- in and beyond her studio walls.  It has always been her dream to inspire others to “Find Their Light”- no matter the paths in life they choose!