Milpitas Post Article

JPA in the News! 

BY RHODA SHAPIRO of the Milpitas Post!
Back  in  the  mid-80s,  when  Patty Jensen  was  looking  to  lease  space for   her   growing  dance  business, she  was  met  with  a  great  deal  of resistance.  Having  run  classes  out of her home for several years, Patty felt she was ready to transition into something else.
HE  had her sights set on some properties in Milpitas. However, property  owners  were  looking at her  sideways,  not  believing that her dance studio could turn enough of a profit for Patty to keep up with the rent.  Add  to  that  the  fact  that  Patty  was  a woman   entrepreneur, which was not incredibly common at the time, and the chips seemed stacked against her.
It  wasn’t  until  she  crossed  paths  with  a gentleman who owned a large space that had just been built on Milpitas Boulevard that things changed:
“This    is    against    everything I know business-wise,” the man told Patty after hearing  about  her  plans  for  the  space. “But  this  community  needs  this.  So  I’m going to say yes.”
That was about 35 years ago. And for 35 years,  Patty  has  continued  to  operate out of the very same studio, while every other  building  next  to  her  has  changed hands multiple times.  “We’re   the   first   ones   to   occupy   the space,”  said  Patty.  “It  was  built  for  me. So it tells you you shouldn’t listen when people say you can’t do something.”
This year, the Jensen School for the Performing Arts (JPA) hit its 40th 
anniversary.  In  celebration,  in  July,  150 people from the studio will be going on a cruise to Mexico.
JPA, which contains offices and 5 studios, is  in  a  constant  state  of  motion.  Music echoes against the walls. Dancers of all ages weave in and out of rooms and hallways. Studio spaces spill out raw, tangible energy.
At present, the school offer 100 classes, 6 days a week.  Babies can begin  taking classes pretty much as soon as they start walking,  and  if  they’re  so  inclined,  they can  keep  dancing  at  the  school  all  the way   into  adulthood.   Patty mentioned that the school has students in their 70s dancing there.
Patty’s instructor staff consists of 12 teachers.  Add in the support  staff,  and she has 19 total on her team.  One  of  the  teachers  is  actually  Patty’s sister, Tina Jensen. (The two actually have the  same married  name...on  account  of being married to brothers.)
Tina  is  the  mind  behind  JPA’s  children’s dance   program,   which   she  translated into a preschool enrichment program called the Little Stars Learning Academy.  For the last several years, she has been instrumental in running that program for the City of Milpitas at the Community Center.    Meanwhile, they also teach anywhere from 5 to 10 different classes through the City; these take place at the studio.
“Tina’s  more  my  partner  than  anything else,”  said  Patty, noting that  her  sister’s been  working  with  her  from  the  very beginning.
In fact, family appears to be at the very heart of what the Jensen School for the Performing Arts truly stands for.  All  of  Patty  and  Tina’s  children  literally grew up in the studio, taking dance classes there.“The kids were what we call studio brats,” said  Patty,  whose  twin  daughters also teach at the school.  In  fact,  walking  through  the  studio,  it’s not uncommon to see families of several generations occupying the space.
One trio--daughter, mother, grandmother--had  been  taking  classes at 
the studio for many years. It all started with  Marcy  Keith  Balbas,  who  took her first dance class with Patty at the age of 5. This was almost 45 years ago, when Patty was teaching for a  different studio near Milpitas.  Several years later, when Patty moved into her current school space, it was  only  fitting that Marcy move along with her.  She has been dancing there ever since, and now teaches  Tap  and Jazz to students ranging from infancy to adulthood. Although Marcy moved out of Milpitas years ago, and currently lives in Gilroy, she still comes out to the studio to teach 6 days a week.
In  ‘77,  her  mother  Jackie  Keith  started taking an adult dance class, at  which point she was hooked as well.  And  Marcy’s  daughter,  Sophia  Balbas, a high school  junior, started going to the studio even before she was born: “I was in her  belly, dancing,”  said  Sophia.  “As soon as I could take a single step, I started taking classes.”
Sophia joins her mother 6 days a week to practice in the studio. For her, not only is JPA  a  place where  she  gets  to  continue learning  and  growing  as a dancer,  but it’s a place where she can be with family—and  even  friends—whom  she  has been dancing with since she was a baby. In  looking to the  future  and  thinking  of college, Sophia is certain that if she does decide to go away somewhere, it will be tough for her to part with her life at the studio.
At present, Jensen School for the Performing Arts has several hundred kids attending its classes.  “It’s been wonderful to see the growth,” said  Tina.  “It’s  been  scary  during  times when Silicon Valley has taken a dive. When people don’t make money, dance is the first thing they give up.  But we just kept getting back on the bicycle and chugging away. And we made it.”
Jensen School for the Performing Arts
1491 N. Milpitas Blvd Milpitas, CA 95035

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