Thanks to her mother’s influence and guidance, Tiffany Russell developed a love of dance at a very early age.
“People say that I have been dancing since I was born,” said Russell, who is a dance instructor and owner of Spartan Dance and Fit Center. “I think I truly started my dance training at the age of two – my mother was a ballerina and she danced all throughout her pregnancy. Dance has served so many wonderful purposes for me as it was a way for me to express myself and helped me through my early schooling years – as I am dyslexic.”
Throughout her professional career, Russell performed with an international dance company touring on five different continents as a principal dancer. She began working in the fitness industry at the age of 19, and managed the fitness and heath program for the dance company she toured with. She attended Parsons in New York City and graduated from Illinois Institute of Art with a Bachelor of Arts degree specializing in fashion design.
“I love fashion and design, and am fortunate I get to design most of our competition costumes,” said Russell, adding that many of their competitive dancers get to model in costume catalogs each summer.
When Russell moved to Lansing 10 years ago, one of the first things she did was to look into enrolling her daughters at a dance studio. When her search for the perfect studio came up short, she decided to open her own.
“I was looking for a technique based school that also offered a positive growing environment and opportunities to do more than just take classes. However, I couldn’t find one. So with help of my family, husband and a couple other amazingly talented dancers, we launched Spartan Dance Center,” Russell said.
Russell founded Spartan Dance Center in the summer of 2010. During its first year, the studio had 80 students, but has grown to over 450 students in five years.
Spartan Dance Center specializes in all styles of dance. They teach a variety of classes, from ballet to breakdancing. Classes are offered for both children and adults. Some of the classes offered include ballet, contemporary, hip-hop, tap, ballroom, salsa, Irish, lyrical, jazz, jumps and turns, acrobatics and creative movement.
One of the things that makes the studio unique is their B-boy (break dancing) program, which includes over 60 male dancers. Spartan Dance Center originally opened in downtown East Lansing and, after six months, moved to a larger building on Lake Lansing Road, which houses three studios.
Spartan Dance Company was launched in 2011. In the first year, their competitive team had eight dancers. Today, their Dance Company has 68 members between the ages of 5 and 17. The Company is for more serious dancers that want pre-professional training. They attend many competitions, Chicago dance intensives over the summer and participate in many local events, including the MSU Homecoming Parade, Lansing’s Silver Bells in the City, MSU sporting events, Lansing Lugnuts games and other downtown events. Open auditions for the award-winning Company will be held on June 11 and 12 this year.
Spartan Fit Center was launched in 2012. As the business continued to grow, Russell decided to expand its fitness program. In addition to dance classes, Spartan Dance and Fit Center offers CrossBox, Circuit, Core, Spartan Strength, Barre, Pilates, Zumba, S.D.F.C., Kick Boxing and Yoga. Their Boot Camps have amazing results and the personal training options top it all off. Russell attributes the success of the Fit Center to the amazing instructors and trainers and the variety of classes offered.
Because of its continued growth, the studio will be moving to a facility three times larger in August. This new building will have six state-of-the-art studios, personal training room, group fitness facility, as well as a children’s play zone, adult-only business center, café and beautiful locker rooms.