By April Charlton

Contributing Writer

Maggie Mesikep says he has spent the better part of her adult life “living the dream.”

She is affectionately known as Miss Maggie to the thousands of students who have floated and twirled across the floor and performed pliés in front of the mirror at Los Olivos Dance Gallery for nearly 25 years.

Lompoc native Maggie Mesikep, 49, began dancing as a small child and never stopped.

“I wanted to have a (dance) school from age 7; I live my dream every day,” Mesikep said from her small school on Nojoqui Avenue. “I feel so fulfilled and filled with love, with respect. Working with students, watching their self-esteem (and) self-confidence grow; dance aside, watching them become their best selves, that’s what gives me the most joy. When the dance comes along with it, it’s breathtaking.”

A Lompoc native, Mesikep, 49, began dancing as a small child. She recalls always having a lot of energy, always tapping her feet and moving a lot. It was something her mother channeled into dance classes, starting at 5.

“That is how it all started. I have always been creative and love using my imagination and expressing through movement,” Mesikep said. “It has always been in me.”

Mesikep danced throughout her youth and said at one point a teacher told her she would never be a dancer because of her physique. She said the comment simply made her work harder to attain her dream.

At that time, Mesikep switched dance schools, got her pointe shoes and never looked back. She eventually attended UC Irvine, where she graduated with a degree in dance and an emphasis in teaching and management, knowing she wanted a dance school.

That teacher’s comment “sort of fueled me to do better and to create a school that I always wanted,” Mesikep said. “If I was little, this is where I would want to come and what I would want to see.”

Los Olivos Dance Gallery teaches not only traditional ballet and tap but also contemporary styles. Photo by Mike Mesikep.

Mesikep, along with the help of her husband, Mike, has been operating Los Olivos Dance Gallery at 2948 Nojoqui Ave., Suite 6, for the last 24 years. The couple do pretty much everything at the studio, where students can take classes in ballet, jazz, tap and hip hop. Classes are offered for kids as young as 4 years old up to adult.

Mike Mesikep, who also grew up in Lompoc, laughed that his wife groomed him for the job over the years. The pair met in kindergarten but didn’t start dating until their senior year of high school. They were married shortly after college and have been together for 26 years.

“She has been grooming me for the job for a long time,” he said with a laugh.

“That’s the joke,” Mesikep added. “Since kindergarten I have been like, ‘I need someone who knows sound, someone who is good at printing and can do programs.’ He does all the programs.”

In addition to designing and producing the dance school’s annual Centre Stage program — a high-end, quality look-book just like the ones people receive at big-stage productions — Mike Mesikep also helps with all the maintenance and handyman work and anything else that needs to be done at the studio.

He is a professional photographer with a background in printing. His wife, in turn, runs all other aspects of the Dance Gallery, which recently expanded to include a third studio, aptly named the Dancers Legacy Studio, where covers of years of Centre Stage programs line the walls.

“We are a good team,” Mesikep said with a large smile for her husband, who readily admits he never envisioned a career running a dance studio alongside his wife. Yet, he said, it’s something he wouldn’t change for the world.

Much like his wife, Mike Mesikep said he feels incredibly valued by the students who attend and have attended the dance school over the years. When the curtain comes up on opening night every year for Centre Stage, he gets a little misty eyed. As does his wife.

After almost 25 years, Los Olivos Dance Gallery has more students than the town’s elementary school. Photo by Mike Mesikep.

“I just feel so blessed. Almost beholden, that it is too good to be true,” Mike Mesikep said, “because sometimes I joke this isn’t always pretty. I mop the floors. I do a little bit of everything, (but) ultimately it’s a tremendous sense of pride, especially our show.”

When Mesikep opened her school in 1994 at the same location she still operates today — the space was formerly used by Fess Parker’s Grand Hotel as an aerobics studio and juice bar — she joked with the property owner that she’d be around until she was 70. At that time, she had 60 students under her tutelage within less than a year and now, almost a quarter century later, Los Olivos Dance Gallery has more students than the town’s elementary school.

And today, Mesikep and the property owner joke that he may not be around until the studio owner is herself a senior citizen.

“I don’t know that I will be teaching when I am 70,” Mesikep said with her trademark smile. “But I sure hope so.”

She added, “I have always told Mike I will keep doing this as long as I get joy from it, and I am still getting joy.”

Los Olivos Dance Gallery’s Centre Stage production this year was May 18-19 at Solvang Festival Theater. The theme was “Movies That Move Us,” and it featured more than 50 choreographed dances from ballet to jazz and tap to hip hop. Next year’s Centre Stage will celebrate the studio’s 25th anniversary.

For more information, visit, email Maggie Mesikep at, or call 805-686-1627.