In 1979, Carol Kay Harsell was busy running the American Academy of Dance, a successful dance school she founded in Scottsdale, Arizona. Harsell, who had great expectations for the school, was eager to expand her offerings and clientele. She looked to Bernard Friedman, businessman and entrepreneur, for ideas. After several months of hard work, Harsell and Friedman had more than tripled the size of the dance studio and raised the school’s enrollment to more than 600 students, but enrollment in the academy’s pre-school dance program, aptly named Kinderdance, was still low. While talking one afternoon, Friedman asked Harsell why she thought that participation was limited? Harsell replied that it was because many young children were in child care centers and preschools. Friedman thought a few minutes and said “then why don’t you bring the program to the children?” It was at that moment that the concept for Kinderdance International was born.

The very next day, Harsell approached a local child care center and signed up six children for her Kinderdance program. Thirty days later, more than 60 children were enrolled. Sensing that they were on to something big, Friedman marketed the Kinderdance program to all of the child care centers in the greater Phoenix area. Six months after the original “on-site location”, the Kinderdance idea was off and running. Harsell and dance teachers from her studio were instructing classes in more than 30 child care centers around Phoenix, and were teaching in the Phoenix public school system.

By 1981, Harsell and Friedman were thrilled with the success of the Kinderdance program. Clearly there was a demand for their innovative “on-site location” education through dance programs. Friedman and Harsell put their marketing and business experience to work, researching and developing an expansion plan for their new endeavor. Establishing Kinderdance as a franchise organization seemed like the obvious answer. Both knew that other motivated people like themselves could successfully market the Kinderdance programs to child care centers, preschools and other viable locations around the country.

In late 1981, Kinderdance International was incorporated and in 1985, the first Kinderdance franchise was opened in Houston, Texas.  Today there are over 150 Kinderdance franchises throughout the United States, and the world!

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