The owners of AEDE dance school, Elizabeth and Dan Mueller, know what it is to see life come around full circle. Dan grew up in River Vale and attended Don Bosco, while Elizabeth was a student at Holy Angels who lived in Ridgefield Park. The couple met at a high school dance.
They began dating at age 15, and continued their relationship throughout college. Liz attended Manhattan College, and Dan earned a BFA in Dance, attending the University of the Arts in Philadelphia before transferring to Montclair University. Marriage soon followed.
In 2019, they took ownership of the AEDE dance school in Park Ridge—the same studio where Dan grew to develop his love of dance. “I grew up there—from the time I was six years old through high school,” says Dan. “Liz used to come to my dance competitions here.”
He returned to AEDE after a professional dancing career to share his education, experience, and love of dance with the next generation. He taught various classes and later became the assistant director of the school’s competitive classes, and Liz taught English for 13 years in Cliffside Park.
Eventually, the time was right for the couple to take over the studio because founders Anita Ehrler and Frank Mastrocola had decided to retire. A lifelong friendship between the former and new owners made the transition easier. “We still have a wonderful relationship with Anita and Frank,” says Elizabeth. “They are like second parents to us. Our kids refer to them as aunt and uncle!”
Complementary talents make running the school a balance of skills, as Dan manages the creative and instructional side of the business while Elizabeth assumes the scheduling, billing, and administrative tasks. Both of their children also attend AEDE—keeping the whole family together in one place! “It’s wonderful to be able to pass on my passion in the same place where it was founded,” says Dan.
The school offers classes in ballet, tap, lyrical, contemporary, hip-hop, acrobatic arts, and pointe, as well as private voice and piano lessons. Kids and their parents can decide if they want to follow a recreational or competitive track as they explore the world of dance.
“We have students currently working in New York City dance companies,” says Dan. “Some have gone on to become dance teachers, and several of our students dance on D1 college dance teams. We also have a few who major in dance education and performance. It’s a great achievement for us.”
Dan and Liz believe that dance education is essential in developing children and teens. “It makes you think differently,” notes Dan. “Dance forces you to think outside of what’s ‘normal.’ It breeds discipline, hard work, and time management to balance your practice with school work and a social life.”
Since not every competition or audition results in a “win,” dance also teaches young people how to deal with disappointment. “We tell our students that it’s not about how the judges scored your performance—it’s how you felt when you walked off the stage,” says Dan. “It’s not about winning; it’s about making progress. Judges are subjective. Be comfortable with knowing that you did your best.”
Performing on stage builds self-esteem and confidence, teaching young students to present themselves properly and to be comfortable in front of others. “Putting yourself out there is so important,” says Dan.
Throughout the years, dance has been an important part of their lives. The Muellers appreciate the opportunity to work with students in the very studio that holds such wonderful memories for both of them.
“We have some great kids in our classes—we are lucky,” says Elizabeth. Dan adds, “We love our jobs, and we love watching these kids grow up. It’s humbling to be a part of their development as they mature from baby dancers to talented artists, and it’s fun to witness.
Creating great dancers—and even better people--is what AEDE is all about.
We tell our students that it’s not about how the judges scored your performance—it’s how you felt when you walked off the stage.