GAHHH! I'm super excited to bring you this Backstage Blog, because I got to interview an awesome fellow #girlboss that I've been looking up to for quite awhile now! Genevieve Weeks is the Founder and CEO of TUTU School, a franchise of boutique ballet schools geared for dancers ages 8 and under. Get ready to feast your eyes on not only some fabulous insight, but some cuuuuute dance studio design inspo and great branding. A big thanks to Genevieve for taking the time out of her busy schedule for this interview, and best wishes to her and all her work!
KC: What are your earliest memories of dance?
Without a doubt, dancing around in my parents’ living room to everything from Bob Dylan to Tchaikovsky. I really believe that Tutu School was essentially born in that living room.
KC: How did the idea for Tutu School come about?
GW: I was put in charge of the Pre-Ballet division at another school and just fell in love with the age group. At the same time, I began realizing that traditional dance schools weren’t set up to really cater to very little ones, and that often the youngest students were an after-thought in a school with a much broader focus. I started dreaming of a school that would exclusivelyt teach children 8 years-old and under, so that every single aspect of the studio, program, and curriclum would be tailored precisely to the goal of giving little ones a completely magical introduction to ballet.
KC: What are you most proud of about your work with Tutu Schools?
GW: I am most proud of the fact that Tutu School is a space – a physical space and a space in children’s lives – where kids can connect with the joy and creativity inside of them. That’s at the core of everything we do. Now that we have also expanded through franchising, I am very proud of the amazing Tutu School owners that have joined our community and embraced our mission.
KC: How did you get into teaching? What is your favorite thing about it? Do you have a least favorite thing about being a business owner?
GW: Honestly, I started teaching as a side job to supplement my career as a professional dancer while I was still performing. I never envisioned that dance education would become a permanent part of my life. Now I am addicted to the moment that inevitably comes in each class where I spot a student that has lost themselves in music and movement, and really connected with something exceptional inside of themselves. I don’t ever want to get blasé about getting to be a part of that Founding a company - and now helping other women open their own Tutu Schools – has been an incredible adventure. There are certainly challenges, though, and I would say the one I come up against most frequently is just trying to figure out how best to divide my time when everything always feels pressing and important. My motto is, “Just do the next right thing.” So I try to start there..
KC: Who are your dance heroes, and why?
GW: Growing up, it was Darci Kistler with New York City Ballet. As a performer, she embodied what I love most about ballet… An ability to just climb right inside of the music.
KC: How do you describe what you do for a living to people you're just meeting for the first time?
I tell them that I founded a national collection of ballet schools for very young children.
KC: What's the funniest, or most heart-warming story about teaching or dancing you have?
GW: One of my very favorite students to ever come through Tutu School’s doors has a mild form of Cerebral Palsy. She has never let it deter her from participating fully in our classes and performances, though. She’s incredible. A few years ago she was in the hospital for quite a while after a surgery, and when her doctors and physical therapists would ask her how it was that she was so good at the stretching and rehab exercises she was being asked to do, she replied with total confidence, “It’s because I am a ballerina.”
KC: What one preconception or cliche about dance would you like to correct?
GW: There’s so much strength, and frankly so much courage in ballet that I feel gets too often overlooked. At Tutu School, we are currently focusing on the best way to highlight positive and empowering messages within our Ballet Storytime curriculum. For example, in The Sleeping Beauty, do you know who the real hero of that story is? Most people focus on a silly kiss from a prince, but in the ballet version it is the Lilac Fairy who – with kindness and bravery – truly saves the day. And all while wearing a purple tutu.
KC: And now.... just for funsies....Burritos or tacos?
KC: Legwarmers or ballet skirts?
GW: Don’t make me choose!
KC: Disco balls or rainbows?
KC: Center Stage or Flashdance?
GW: Center Stage.
KC: One word to describe yourself?
YASSSS! I found so much inspiration from Genevieve's words, and hope you do too! For more info on TUTU Schools, check out their website, and then hit me up on social media and let me know who your dance studio crush is these days and why. Have a great week!