When pedestrians on Grand Boulevard in Brookfield peek into the Broadway School of Dance, they see lines of girls in leotards practicing dance steps in front mirrored walls. What they don’t recognize is that they’re looking at just another day in a long, if quiet, history of dance in Brookfield, and the place the Broadway School, 10 years old this July, holds in that story.

The Broadway School was opened by Brookfield resident Ann Lenartson in 1997 across the street from S.E. Gross Middle School on Broadway Avenue-hence the school’s name. This was Lenartson’s second dance studio, after opening Windy City Dance Productions in 1984. She said she decided to open a school in her hometown after being talked into it by local parents.

“I had taught at a lot of the schools in the area, and people were always asking me to open a school,” she said. “Even when I was just grocery shopping, they’d come up to me and ask ‘When are you going to open your own school?'”

The school’s first location on Broadway was actually one Lenartson knew well. Her former dance teacher, Joyce Lang, had bought the building in the late 1950s and Lenartson had taken lessons there as child. Lang was a longtime dance instructor in Brookfield, and also served as the first woman president of the village’s Chamber of Commerce.

Returning to Lang’s old studio seemed appropriate, Lenartson said, because Lang was the person who first introduced her to dance instruction in the mid-1970s and encouraged her to pursue a dance career.

“She saw great potential in me,” Lenartson remembered. “When I was 11, she asked me to join her ‘helper program,’ and I helped teach 3 to 6 year olds. I went from that to the next group. … When I was a senior in high school, she started giving me my own classes.”

Two years after opening the Broadway School, however, a change in the building’s ownership forced Lenartson to relocate, and she quickly set up shop in the school’s current location at 3742 Grand Blvd. Again, however, the space was familiar to her.

“In the eighties I taught here when it was a dance school,” she said. “When I was remodeling, I kept it the way I remembered it from back then.”

Over the past decade, Lenartson said, the makeup of the Broadway School has shifted. Enrollment has fluctuated up and down, and guest teachers have rotated in and out. Although she did not have a current enrollment estimate, Lenartson said that today she teaches classes in ballet, point, jazz and hip-hop to students ages 3 to 18. In recent years, dance recitals combining classes at her two studios have featured a few hundred dancers.

Lenartson said she’s enjoyed watching her students, some of whom she’s taught for up to nine years, progress as dancers. She said this applies equally to her older students, some of whom she’s helped find colleges to study dance professionally, as well as the 3 year olds taking their first dance class.

“I never get tired in terms of teaching,” she said. “I love every week seeing the little 3 year olds come marching in, hearing from the moms that they’ve had their leotard on since two for a class that wasn’t until six.”

As for marking the anniversary, Lenartson said she wasn’t planning on anything special for the Broadway School’s next recital, on June 29 at S.E. Gross School, but would be using the milestone to expand her program. This summer she’s hoping to add drama and adult dance classes, as well as dance camps, which teach many different dance styles in one three-day program. In the fall she plans to introduce open house Sundays.

“I don’t have all the details yet, but I’m hoping to have it so that one or two days out of the month, people can walk in, pay a small fee and take a class,” she explained.

Looking back over the years, Lenartson said she is grateful to Lang for starting her on this career. Although she never expected dance to become her life, at this point she says she can’t imagine doing anything else.

“[Lang’s] passion for dance just bled into all of us,” she said. “She’s the main reason I went into this. It just became such a love and a passion for me.”