Purple Tights, Tacos + Injury Prevention: Alicia Jonas of The Confident Dance Studio
So far, 2019 has been AH-mazing at delivering awesome dance educators and business owners into my lap. I feel super grateful to be connecting with smart, driven, and kind women, and to be sharing their stories with you!
This week on the Backstage Blog, I chat with Alicia Jonas, founder of The Confident Dance Studio, and let me tell you, Alicia’s mindset and resources for studio owners are so inspiring! I’m so glad she’s on my Facebook and Instagram feeds; I always feel thoughtful and inspired after her posts.
So with that, prepare to be inspired, and let’s get to know Alicia (along with her stories about purple tights, preference for tacos, and why injury prevention is so important)!
KC: What's your earliest memory of dance?
AJ: When I was 3, my mom signed me up to be in the same combo class as my preschool bestie Sara. I don’t remember much, but I remember having a sweet purple leotard and matching purple tights. I also remember being envious of the instructors plastic pants. After one class, I was hooked and I remember asking for sparkly ballet outfits for Christmas and birthday presents for the next few years.
KC: What's your background with dance?
AJ: Dance has always been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I have lots of childhood memories of dancing by myself to my boom box in my bedroom or the basement. I grew up at a small studio in Iowa competing through middle school but had nearly left dance entirely in high school for athletics. Girls basketball was a big thing in my hometown, and I was finding success focusing on that, even though I couldn’t see myself doing it beyond high school. It took watching my former dance friends on stage and longing to be up there with them to rekindle my passion for dance. Within days, I had quit athletics and re-joined my dance friends full force - I’m talking competition team (I learned a piece and competed that next weekend - but please don’t ask me how it looked!), took classes 3-4 times a week, and also began scouting college dance major programs. My parents were super supportive of this dramatic shift. I found a university program that transformed my dancing and exposed me to modern dance and ended up graduating with degrees in both dance and business (which gave me the business foundation I used later on.) After college, I became a company member of a modern dance company in the Midwest and taught kids classes around town. I left dancing after 4 years to focus on studio ownership and building my own business. After 10 years as a studio owner, I’ve found a new passion in helping other studio owners. I can’t remember doing anything really without it somehow being related to dance.
KC: Was it love at first plie?
AJ: Of course!
KC: How did you get into dancing/teaching?
AJ: Dancing might not have happened if my preschool bestie Sara hadn’t invited me to come join a class with her. And I’m so grateful that my mom decided to give it a try!
KC: What's your favorite thing about it?
AJ: My favorite thing about dance is that you can express yourself in a way that doesn’t need words. Finding the right words to express how I feel has never been a strength of mine. Growing up I never felt like I fit in - I was very shy and awkward and tall for my age - so dance was a way I could express myself and simultaneously become a version of myself that was confident, graceful, strong - those things I didn’t quite feel in my ‘regular’ life except around my family.
KC: Who are your dance heroes, and why?
AJ: This is such a good question! I have so much respect for all of the teachers, educators, and organizations in the industry who are making dance healthier and safer for kids today and making sure dancers have a healthy appreciation of their bodies and what they’re capable of. You all have my support 100%.
KC: Tell us about your business, The Confident Dance Studio:
AJ: Well I still have my dance studio (we also teach private music lessons) but I also work with studio owners to streamline and scale their businesses so they can reignite the joy and excitement they had when they first opened their studios.
KC: What's one of your goals in working with other dance educators?
AJ: My goal is to show them they don’t have to choose between growing their studios and spending time with those they love.
KC: What's one of your favorite funny or heart-warming stories about dance?
AJ: I won’t go into too much detail, but when I was performing we did a dance festival in NYC. There was no budget to purchase new costumes, so we all had to make do with what was available. I ended up in a unitard that was two sizes too small, and you probably can guess the rest - I split the crotch seam on stage. And can I just say thank goodness for nude undergarments!
KC: Are there any cliches or preconceptions about dance you try to correct in your teaching?
AJ: That dancers should be dancing full out, injured or not. I absolutely encourage dancers to rest, heal, get proper treatment, observe rehearsals, and modify movements until they are 100%. I train my teachers to have this same philosophy. No rehearsal, competition, or performance is worth doing permanent damage to a dancer’s body.
KC: Is there one thing you think the dance community needs more of, less of, or to get better at?
AJ: More appreciation for the once a week student who is there for fun. I feel there is too much emphasis on competition and competitive students that we forget to acknowledge and value the students that show up every week, just to dance and have fun. As dance educators and studio owners, we need to recognize every child, every class, every time.
KC: And now, just for funsies…
KC: Burritos or tacos?
KC: Legwarmers or ballet skirts?
AJ: Neither! I’m a socks girl.
KC: Disco balls or rainbows?
AJ: Disco balls.
KC: Center Stage or Flashdance?
AJ: Flashdance because that movie reminds me of my childhood. Pretty sure I wanted a neckless sweatshirt after that!
KC: One word to describe yourself?
A big thank you to Alicia for taking the time to share her stories and insights with me!
Know someone who should be on a Backstage Blog, or do you want to be featured? I’d love to know! Leave a comment below, or message me to connect.
Happy teaching and dancing friends!