larkin legacy

Shirley Larkin 1934 – 2008

Shirley Larkin 1934 – 2008


For 69 years our Founder, Shirley Larkin, influenced the lives of thousands of dancers, teachers, parents and friends. Known by many in the studio competition industry as the ‘Matriarch of Dance,’ Shirley helped form and build the dance community that we know today.

A graduate of Chicago National Association of Dance Masters, Shirley filled her schedule by teaching, choreographing musicals, and judging competitions. In addition, she served as President and Secretary of the Minnesota Chapter of the National Association of Dance and Affiliated Artists from 1962 until 1970, and was National President Emeritus of Professional Dance Teachers Association."

Michele and Molly Larkin are dedicated to continuing their mother’s legacy. Since the age of 8, both daughters would assist their mother in her classes. After graduating, Michele trained in Chicago with Gus Giordano and Lou Conte, and in New York with Frank Hatchet, Charles Kelly, Phil Black, JoJo Smith and Fred Benjamin before returning to Minnesota. When Shirley retired from teaching, she was confident that she was leaving the business and choreography in the capable hands of her daughters.

Under the leadership of Molly and Michele, Larkin Dance Studio has continued to lead in all realms of dance, recently winning Studio of the Year from the Dance Awards in 2016. In 2015 Molly’s daughter, Mackenzie Larkin Symanietz, joined the studio as a choreographer and teacher. Her choreography has led University of Minnesota and Brighum Young University dance teams to national titles. Continually, since 1976, Michele, Molly and Mackenzie have won Top Honors and Choreography awards from every major competition. Together, the Larkins have trained some of the best professional dancers in the country.

Our dancers live out the Larkin Legacy through their work professionally and on collegiate dance teams. Whether you look to Juilliard, Marymount Manhattan College, Broadway, Cirque du Soleil, L.A. Dance Project, Star Search, So You Think You Can Dance, or World of Dance, you will find a Larkin dancer.