Wednesday, November 23, 2011

You asked, I answer.

Last week, I did my first round of You ask, I answer. I'm going to answer some of your questions today! If you have any other questions, feel free to ask! I'm in a blog rut right now and this helps me keep things interesting. :)

First up...Lindsey asked if I didn't run my dance studio, what would I want to do with my life? Along those same lines, Meghan asked about more info on my dance studio. I think I'll dedicate this entire post to those two questions.

In August of 2005, I was packing to go back to Allegheny College to begin my junior year. I just...couldn't do it. I loved my school but I just couldn't force myself to go. Honest to goodness, I walked down the stairs and announced to my parents I wanted to stay home and open a dance studio. My dad said okay, grabbed his keys and put me in the car. He drove me straight to an insurance agent to talk about liability, then we found a building, rented it and called the PA Business Bureau. Within 5 hours, I had a building, a name and a federal tax id number. My dad wrote me a checklist of how to start a business and made me do it myself. I filed all my own paperwork, legal and otherwise. I've done it all since day 1 and I'm a MUCH better business woman from it. I was 20 years old at the time. A baby!

Let's back up. Prior to opening the studio, I was studying theatre at Allegeny College with hopes of moving to New York and becoming a choreographer/director/prop master. For the longest time growing up, I dreamed of being a Rockette. Hardcore dreamed. But I never grew past 5'5 and my "womanly parts" are not exactly Rockette material. (ha!) So I gave that dream up at 17. I then thought I'd be a lawyer. (Can you imagine?!) I spent one semester pre-law at Allegheny and promptly ran as fast as possible straight to the theatre building. I guess if I wasn't a dance teacher, I'd probably be a high school history teacher. I love history. Now I kind of toy with the idea of going back to school slowly but surely and getting my nursing degree. Maybe. Someday.

Now back to the present. My studio is 7 years old. It's named Studio K. Our colors are black and light blue. I firmly believe that every child deserves the opportunity to dance. We do have a competition team, but it's really relaxed as far as competition teams go. We've won some really big awards in the last 2 years, but we do it with love and character building, not yelling and humiliation. This year I have right around 140 students. Small by national standards, but really big for a town of only 4000. :) I teach 24 classes a week. I have a ballet mistress who teaches 4 classes and 4 high school students who each teach one class a week for their community service requirements at school.

I started dancing when I was 3 and I've never stopped. I never will either! My favorite type of dance to perform is tap/kickline and my favorite to teach is ballet. I teach students ages 2 through adult. My favorite age group to teach is usually my advanced girls, for their hardwork and dedication or the 2nd/3rd graders for their honest enjoyment of dance.

We've had six recitals thus far: Take Me to Broadway, Life's a Party, Destination Vacation, True Colors, Tribute (a tribute to my dance teacher growing up) and The Great Adventure (all songs based on books.) This year's recital is called Celebrate and is all Disney music. My favorite dance I've ever choreographed was from last year's recital, a six person lyrical dance to "Fix You" by Coldplay, but the Sing Off version from last year. It was done in honor of a wonderful woman at our studio, Brenda, whom has been battling cancer for 11 years. It was haunting, beautiful and sad all at the same time.

The studio is so near and dear to my heart. I've dreamed of being a studio owner my entire life. There's a huge difference between being a studio owner and being a dance teacher. I've had my heart ripped out and stomped on by a few students. I've invested my time, energy and resources in to so many of my students. The pay isn't fantastic, the hours are crappy. But at the end of the day, when a little girl rushes up those stairs to tell me she got an A in spelling or I find a note on my desk from a student, thanking me for teaching her a cartwheel...I'm the richest person in the world.


Neely said...

Wow Kate you can tell how much you love it :)

Mia Maree said...

Kate this was such a beautiful post. I danced my whole life and can remember every single teacher I had and how they treated me....I can guarantee you hold a special place in all of those dancers' hearts.

Becca Christensen said...

Love this post! How neat that you're doing something your passionate about. And I love small business owners. I hope to be one, someday! : ]

Melissa said...

I love this post! Great hearing how it all started & you can definitely feel your passion for it! :) Awesome.

Laura said...

Love this post Kate!

Unknown said...

I love this! Wish you lived closer!

Amber said...

Love, love, LOVE this! Everyone should always have the opportunity to do something they're passionate about. I'm so happy you're able to do that!