From Singin’ in the Rain to the Unsinkable Molly Brown, Debbie Reynolds is often remembered for her starring roles in some of Hollywood’s biggest musicals. Many don’t realize that beyond her legacy on the silver screen, Debbie was an entrepreneur as well.
As the business management software provider for the Debbie Reynolds Dance Studio, we had the opportunity to work with Debbie to learn more about what dance—and her studio meant to her.
In October 1979, Debbie founded and opened the Debbie Reynolds Dance School in Los Angeles, California. The studio, which still operates today, has been home to thousands of dancers over the years. Today, students can take classes ranging from Bollywood to Dancehall Funk in the same rooms where Michael Jackson, Madonna and Usher practiced some of their signature moves.
For Debbie, dance was a form of happiness—and her studio allowed her to share that joy with the world and encourage others to dance. The space, designed for dancers, offered luxuries not found in other studios: free parking, dressing rooms, showers, and six studios with high ceilings and pianos.
Debbie’s legacy has inspired dancers for decades, especially those dancers who expanded their passion and opened their own studios.
One of these women, Jenny Sanchez, founded her studio, Dance House Fitness in Houston, Texas. Jenny remembers watching Debbie Reynolds’ films growing up—and recognizing even then then impact Debbie had on the dance community.
“She was just a positive influencer with a lot of heart and soul for what she did,” Jenny said. “I think she led by example and it was evident that she tried to live her days to the fullest.”
Owning a studio and teaching dance has helped Jenny find joy and create her own local community of dancers.
"It brings me a lot of joy to teach dance because I can see how it influences other people's lives," Jenny said. "It can, and does, create a sense of community, especially here at my studio and with my squad and my instructors."
Although the community Jenny is making in Houston is far from the community Debbie created in Hollywood, they share the same guiding principle: to make the world happier through dance.