When Louis McKay’s daughter climbed into his suitcase to prevent him from touring with Debbie Reynolds as the choreographer and lead singer, he recognized he needed more family time. Having grown up in the arts—his father was a vocalist for the San Diego Opera and his mother was a Julliard vocal scholarship winner—and having trained with great dancers like Pat Rico, Gower Champion, Ron Lewis, Michael Peters, and many more, it made sense to open a dance studio, which he did thirty-three years ago. He and his co-owner wife, a classically trained ballerina in the Vaganova style, used their love and passion for dance to create an environment at North County DanceArts (NCDA) that makes everyone feel at home and part of a large family.

The McKays hired caring, professional instructors and choreographers who had either extensive professional performance resumes or who had university degrees in the dance/arts field. Currently, their students take beginning through professional level classes seven days a week that encompass technique, terminology, and discipline. McKay is proud that his small studio, equipped with high quality flooring and sound equipment, produces excellently trained technical dancers who can do anything their hearts desire. Some former graduates of NCDA include Mario Lopez (Saved by the Bell), Taryn Manning (Hustle and Flow), and Jolie Jenkins NC_Dance_Arts_04(Body of Proof). In addition, agents send clients to NCDA who need specific training for upcoming roles. Karil Kulish, the 2009 Tony Award Winner for his shared role in Billy Elliott on Broadway, trained at NCDA to master the “Angry Dance.” McKay reminisced, “The biggest award is to see dancers take the talent they have perfected to the stage, video or other media.”

The true sense of caring between the staff, students, and their parents enables everyone to soar. The year end NCDA performance, showcasing original numbers choreographed by their award winning staff, is scheduled for Saturday, July 27 at the Mandeville Auditorium in La Jolla. In his critique of last year’s performance, Steve Shirley of the San Diego Theatre Review raved, “This recital was the best of its class I have ever had the privilege to attend.”

The McKay’s motto—When love and art come together, expect a masterpiece—has been realized. They’ve witnessed countless success stories, both in dance and in life, and they’ve been privileged to watch students grow up, graduate, marry, and bring their children back to dance.

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Name of Business: North County DanceArts, Inc.
Owners: Louis and Tanya McKay
Years in Business: 33 years
Years in Current Location: In Carmel Valley for 20 years; other locations included La Costa, Solana Beach, Rancho Peñasquitos, and Del Mar
Address: 12750 Carmel Country Road, Suite 103
Website: www.northcountrydancearts.com
Email contact: ncdancearts@aol.com
Phone: 858-792-9303
Description of Business: While serving San Diego County for more than thirty-two years, NCDA has been recognized by the San Diego Union Tribune and the Carmel Valley News as the “Best of the Best.”)