The Heart of Agape

Agape Dance Academy brings the highest level of instruction and stunning performances of classical and contemporary ballet to Santa Cruz County. We provide graded pre-professional training programs as standardized by the Royal Academy of Dance, as well as our inspiring Petite Ballet program for dancers ages 3-7. All studios have state of the art sprung floors for the comfort and care of our dancers, and our classes are taught by highly trained faculty who are marked by their love of dance and for your student.

Agape (agápē) comes from the ancient Greek word ἀγάπη, which describes “the highest form of love, charity”. Agape indicates an unconditional love that transcends and persists regardless of circumstance. It has been used to denote love for family, or affection for a particular activity. 

At Agape Dance Academy, we seek to be known yes, by our love of dance, but moreover, by our love for people and our community. It was out of love for students that Melanie Useldinger first dreamed up Agape Dance, and that heritage continues through our teachers, administrators, parent volunteers, student leaders, and dancers. 

We want our studio to be marked by generosity, compassion, and intention, which is why both our annual Nutcracker Performance and our spring ballet function not only as beautiful celebrations of our dancer’s hard work, but also to raise funding for local charities that are close to our heart. 

Jacob’s Heart has served hundreds of children and their families during incredibly difficult journeys through cancer. Our own studio has been affected by the pain that cancer can bring, and we are so honored to stand with this amazing organization as they work to bring love, care, and practical assistance to families who are in the thick of the battle. 

Continuing with our heart of honor for family, Hospice of Santa Cruz provides respectful care and presence to individuals facing the end of their life on earth, as well as support for the families moving through preparation and grief. 

Despite and throughout life’s twists and turns, at Agape Dance Academy, we dance for joy. We dance with abandon. We dance with boldness. When pain and fear try to define our lives, we set our eyes on higher things. As dancers, we spot ourselves by finding something to lock our eyes on, so that we are grounded and established and unshakeable in our dancing…and in our love.

Our Locations

We off classes at four convenient locations throughout Santa Cruz County, providing the same level of skilled instruction and intentional care at each studio.


Scotts Valley Studios A and B

218 E Mount Hermon Rd
Scotts Valley, CA 95066



Aptos Studio

783 Rio Del Mar Blvd
Suite 53
Aptos, CA 95003



Westside Studio

509H Swift St
Santa Cruz, CA 95060



Pleasure Point Studio

3647 Portola Drive
Santa Cruz, CA 95062



Faculty & Staff

All the teaching faculty at Agape Petite Ballet have been specifically chosen for their outstanding energy, enthusiasm and love of ballet and children. Our instructors teach with passion and purpose, setting a curriculum especially designed for each class level.

Owner/Founder Melanie Useldinger has been teaching ballet for over 30 years. She pulls from her vast experience as a scholarship student at San Francisco Ballet, Banff School of Fine Arts, Pennsylvania Ballet and New York City Ballet. She also draws on her professional experience at San Francisco Ballet, Dance Theater of Kansas and San Jose Dance Theater. While she loves dancings, Melanie especially loves inspiring students of all ages and abilities to learn classical ballet and experience great choreography to inspiring music.

All our instructors and staff members work together as a team to bring the very best in classical ballet training to your dancer!

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