Young entrepreneurs: CMU instructor balances work and family opening Mt. Pleasant School of Dance

Finding the perfect work-life balance is difficult for many working adults; and, as a 38-year-old entrepreneur with a 12-year-old son, 9-year-old daughter, and a brand new business, it’s one that Andrea Purrenhage has struggled with since opening Mt. Pleasant School of Dance this summer. However, it’s a challenge that she and her husband are trying to turn into a life lesson for their children.


“It shows my kids the importance of taking on a new task, seeing an obstacle, and working through it,” Purrenhage says.


Purrenhage has taught dance throughout Mid-Michigan, and is also a faculty member at Central Michigan University. Her own education in dance began with the Metropolitan Ballet Center and continued with the Professional Ballet School under Svetlana Chrin of the Ukrainian National Ballet. She also studied locally at Alma College; and, has performed in many well-known productions, including The Nutcracker and Swan Lake.


Over the years, she’s been encouraged to open her own dance school; and, this summer she made the leap. Mt. Pleasant School of Dance started dance classes on Aug. 26 after a whirlwind of a summer.

Mt. Pleasant School of Dance, opened by Andrea Purrenhage, began classes on Aug. 26, 2019.

“From the time of conception to the time of open was maybe 10 weeks,” Purrenhage says.


She says she is focused on providing the area with a variety of high-quality dance classes that teach the training and education necessary for dancers to pursue dance at a higher level and in college, should they choose to do so. Once opening registration for classes, Purrenhage was surprised by something else, though.


“It’s interesting to me how many people have reached out to me as adults wanting to try dance for the first time,” she explains. “As we grow and expand, we’re going to add more adult classes because that’s been a great source of feedback from people.”


Purrenhage says she has felt immense support from the community since beginning her journey as an entrepreneur – one which has come with some unexpected roles for the new business owner.


“There are so many things you don’t consider when you start. My first and best love in this process in being in the classroom and teaching ballet,” she says. “It’s amazing as you start a business how many things you encounter that take you away from that – payroll, taxes, rent. . . all of the steps you have to take you to get to that goal.”


For someone who grew up in the city of Detroit, where her family didn’t know the neighbors a couple doors down, she says the sense of family and belonging she feels in the community has drawn her in “like quicksand”.

Andrea Purrenhage, 38, opened Mt. Pleasant School of Dance with the goal of offering high-quality dance education to the community.


“I think the reason the people are so drawn to Mt. Pleasant is because they feel a sense of ownership and pride in their community,” she says. “The fact that we can support one another and have an investment in what happens in our town is so great; and, it’s a compelling reason for people to choose Mt. Pleasant. You don’t get lost in the crowd. You are part of something, and I think that’s fantastic.”


Along with support from the community, Purrenhage has had the support of her family – especially her husband, who also dances and helped with the interior construction of the new dance school. Even if she gets home late after teaching dance some nights, and even if having dinner together every night is difficult, Purrenhage hopes that her children see her dedication to providing quality dance education in Mt. Pleasant and apply it to their own lives.


“They see their parents working on something that they’re passionate about . . . and I hope that inspires them.”



As young entrepreneurs build local businesses, this 3-part series explores the challenges they face, the gaps their businesses fill, and what draws them to this community.

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