It's been almost a decade since Chris and Shanna Sell brought a big name dancer to Sell's Broadway Dance Company, the couple's studio in New Port Richey, to hold a dance master class.
In 2001, the Sells used the connections they had built up over long careers in Broadway and international touring companies to snare choreographer GEO to teach local dancers steps he'd created for performers such as Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Simpson, Britney Spears and the late Michael Jackson, among others.
This year, the Sells are doing a five-part series of master classes at their studio, with dance captains and featured performers from national touring shows appearing at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts (formerly Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center) in 2010 and 2011.
"They'll teach something in the style of the show or original choreography of the show," said Chris Sell, co-owner of the studio. "As soon as they finish, I'll take them right back down to Tampa because they have a show that afternoon."
The first sessions are taught by a dancer in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats, playing today through Sunday at the Straz Center. The one for intermediate students is at 9 a.m. Sunday, followed at 10 a.m. by a class for advanced dancers. All future sessions will be held on Saturdays.
"They don't have to be students at our studio," Chris Sell said. "We welcome everyone." Past master classes have attracted students from Orlando, Sarasota, Crystal River and all places in between, Sell said.
Besides the dance moves, the students will be given a lot of insight into show business, Sell said.
"The kids get to ask questions and get information about the business," Sell said. "They get to meet the persons on the tour."
Each class is $35, payable in advance or at the door.
Starting with Cats holds special meaning for the Sells. The couple met while performing in the Broadway touring company version in 1995. Instead of traveling in the tour bus, the couple bought an SUV and drove from city to city by themselves. Once there, they would dress up in their Cats costumes and visit children's hospitals and schools and give backstage tours to Make-a-Wish Foundation participants.
Shanna got her start in showbiz at Richey Suncoast Theatre, playing in The Music Man in the early 1980s. She went on to perform around the world .
Ten years ago, the couple left the touring company and founded their own dance studio in New Port Richey. Since then, they've become parents of three, including 9-year-old Megan, who frequently performs at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre.
The Sells themselves have directed and/or choreographed several Show Palace productions, including Crazy for You, Annie Get Your Gun, The Producers, Dirty-Rotten Scoundrels, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Sweet Charity.
Future master classes are: Jan. 22, Beauty and the Beast; Feb. 12, Billy Elliot; March 5, West Side Story; May 7, Shrek. Call (727) 376-2600 to make a reservation or for information.