Today is a Backstage Blog! The awesome ladies at Resourceful Dance were kind enough to sit down with me for an interview as I picked their brains about what makes them tick, their goals and passions for dance and their business, and... burritos, because #priorities. Thank you so much, Colleen and Meagan for sharing your wisdom and time with me, and for all you dance teachers, studio owners and creative business bosses out there, be sure to check out the Resourceful Dance website; it's chock full of goodies! You can continue in the conversation over on their Facebook group as well. Here's to resourceful, passionate dance creatives! Cheers!
KC: What are your earliest memories of dance and how have they guided your training and careers over the years?
Meagan: My earliest dance memories are from when the ownership changed at my dance studio. I was in fourth or fifth grade. The new owner was young, beautiful, and SO energetic. The previous owner was a former professional ballet dancer- so the vibe was very different. I remember taking a tap class and learning a combo. I don't remember the song- but it was upbeat and fast. I remember feeling completely out of my comfort zone, but also completely in LOVE with dance. Like, wow, this is REALLY fun. I am forever grateful (especially the older I get!) that I went to a studio where we celebrated the JOY of dancing.
Another memory that stands out is a compliment I got from a ballet teacher when I was 16. He was VERY intimidating and I felt very behind technically in his class. He stopped me after going across the floor and said, "You love to dance, don't you Meagan? I can see that inside of you." That moment gave me so much confidence! I doubt how much he knew how much that meant to me. My technique was maybe not where it should be- but I worked hard and LOVED it. Those things matter just as much!
In my own teaching, I never count anyone out. I try to reward hard work and grit JUST as much as a dancer's facility. I try to make everyone feel like there is a place for them in the dance world if they want it. The dance world can be a HARD place. Future dancers need to find a sense of motivation that comes from within. I try to help my students find that!
Colleen: The very first thing I remember of dance was watching my older sister, Meagan, take her first dance class. I was about 3 and remember begging my mom to let me jump into class. Sadly, she said no hehe but as a compromise, let me do what I could on the sidelines. I think that really sparked my love for moving. Yes, it was exciting to watch but oh man, it was SO much more fun to actually do it. I still feel that same way about dance. My love for movement stems from the way it feels and I strongly believe that is why I continue to dance even today.
KC: How did you get into teaching? What is your favorite thing about it? Do you have a least favorite thing about being business owners?
Meagan: I assisted and taught in high school and continued to teach throughout college. When I think back to those beginning classes.. they were rough! Ha! But that is how we learn. I taught after graduation to support myself while I pursued my own performing career. I fell into an opportunity to purchase and dance studio and naively said "yes" at 25. I have been teaching ever since! I love getting to witness students making connections or understanding a concept for the first time. I also LOVE watching my students perform and come alive on stage. Nothing better!
My least favorite part of being a dance studio owner was dealing with negative feedback about my studio. I hold dance SO close to my heart. It is very hard to not take that feedback personally and not stew over it for weeks! In my current business, I struggle to balance the work load with being a mom. It is very cliche- but finding that elusive balance is hard.
Colleen: After I graduated college, I was ready to hang up my dancing shoes for a career in baking. At the same time, my sister was busy running her dance studio and needed another teacher so I said: "why not!" I continued to teach one night a week while I worked full- time at a bakery for a couple years. When my sister found out she was pregnant with her first I decided to take over for her during her maternity leave. I enjoyed it so much I just never returned to my bakery life.
I love teaching kids that start dancing (or start dancing more intensively) around age 10-12. It is so exciting seeing the transformation of these dancers because they are so excited to learn. I have seen first-hand that it is possible to become an amazing dancer at any age or ability level as long as you work hard. It is really fun to see a student's eyes open up to new possibilities.
Being a business owner comes with great flexibility. You can work anytime you please, you can reschedule meetings, etc. This is a HUGE bonus but can also be a bit of a curse. Because I have 2 young children, my life is constantly having to revolve around their activities, doctors appointments, and let's face it, their moods on any particular day. Because I have flexibility in my schedule, if things start to hit the fan, it is always my work schedule that makes the adjusting. Like I said, I am SO happy I have that flexibility as an entrepreneur because that means I don't have to take a sick day or get in trouble by my boss. But having a fixed schedule that someone is holding you accountable for, helps you actually work. Sometimes my work flexibility means some weeks, hardly anything gets done.
KC: Who are your dance heroes, and why?
Meagan: I don't know if I have any famous dance heroes- but I have a lot of women I have danced with or worked with over the years that I look up to! I really admire women that face set backs and disappointment and KEEP going. In the professional world, I had one big (for me at the time!) set back that I had a really hard time getting back up from. It left a really bad taste in my mouth about the dance world. I admire women that take things into their own hands, define their own success, and take chances. Nothing against men, but in many ways the dance world is still a man's world!
Colleen: I love all that Martha Graham did for modern dance. Stepping away from what is expected is beyond challenging and I respect her so much for forging a new path.
KC: How do you describe what you do for a living to people you're just meeting for the first time?
Meagan: Our new tagline at Resourceful Dance is that we help dance studio owners use technology to work smarter and stress less. I usually just tell people I do website design because it is easier!
Colleen: I usually start off by telling people that I teach dance. Then I move on to Resourceful Dance where I explain that I help dance studio owners with their social media, website management, and studio operations. It's one of those things that people instantly want to know how the heck we came into this business! Hehe, it's a good conversation starter!
KC: What's the funniest, or most heart-warming story about teaching you have?
Meagan: I will never forget the sound that came out of my students' mouths when I told them I was pregnant with my first daughter. I told our company kids before the rest of the studio. You would have thought I told them they won the lottery! So much jumping and screaming!!
Colleen: I would say that while I was pregnant with both of my girls, my belly was ALWAYS a very hot topic for my little kid classes. How does the baby get in there? How does it get out? Does it hurt when the baby comes out? My answer was always, "well, I think you will have to ask your parents about that..." I always felt a little guilty being the catalyst for that awkward conversation during the car ride home.
KC:What one preconception or cliche about dance would you like to correct?
Meagan: I'd love for people to not immediately think of Dance Mom's when you tell them you own a dance studio. I also hate when I hear of high school dancers quitting dance because "they are not going to be a professional". It doesn't have to be all or nothing! I wish more studios also supported this. Dance can be such a wonderful outlet!
Colleen: I think right now, there is this strong urgency from parents and students to be AMAZING at such a young age. Dancers are pushing themselves to be in the studio 5 hours a night plus all day Saturdays and Sundays. I worry that for a lot of dancers this will lead to overuse injuries and burn out. I want them to know that they have time. I know so many dancers that improved so much during and AFTER college who then went on to dance professionally. Slow down and enjoy middle school and high school. Work hard in your dance classes and know that dance is all about the long game.
KC: And now.... just for funsies....Burritos or tacos?
Colleen: Uh both! Sweet potato and black bean is my all-time fav.
KC: Legwarmers or ballet skirts?
Meagan: I love a flattering ballet skirt... but I probably haven't worn a leotard in 5 years. Ha!
Colleen: Neither, I'm an athletic legging kinda girl!
KC: Disco balls or rainbows?
Meagan: Disco balls.
Colleen: Rainbows for sure.
KC: One word to describe yourself?
SUCH a good talk! Ok friends, now it's your turn! Tell us, what's ONE thing as a dancer/studio owner you wish you had more resources with? And, if you want to mention if you're a burrito or taco lover, that'd be cool too. :)