Business name: Dancepiration Dance Academy

Address: 1801 N. State Route 1, Watseka IL, 60970

Phone number: (815) 386-4446

Owner: Blair Hankey

Opening date: February 1, 2018

Hours: Tuesdays (4pm-8pm) and Wednesdays (5pm-9pm)

1. What does this business do?

Dancepiration Dance Academy is a dance studio that offers several classes for a variety of ages. Our classes include: hip-hop, tap, pointe, contemporary, ballet, mommy & me, and competitive teams! Kids have the opportunity of dancing when they are just two years old all the way through their senior year in high school!

2. What was the reason for starting this business?

Ever since I was three years old and had started my first year in dance, dance has always been a great passion of mine. It’s something I had always looked forward to whether it was just a practice, a competition, or a recital! As I continued my dancing throughout the years, I pushed myself to not only choreograph solo’s for myself but I had also helped choreograph other dances part-time my senior year. When my senior year of high school was coming to an end, I had started to realize how much of myself I would lose had I chose to given up dance as soon as I graduated, so when the opportunity arised for me to start my own dance studio, I took it and never looked back.

3. What is the best thing about being located in Watseka?

I’d have to say the best part about being located in Watseka, IL is the support from the community. I’m constantly getting messages on social media or stopped in public just to talk about how well the studio is doing and how they’re excited to see the future of this young business. There is truly nothing like the support you get from owning a business in a small town.

4. What is the biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge I believe I had/have is my age. I know that there was doubt about how ready I was for this and how successful the studio would be with me being so young, I got told I was “too young” and “it’ll never work,” but I was going to make sure to prove those people wrong. Due to how young I was when I had started this business, I also wasn’t able to get a loan or finance the studios necessities, I had to purchase everything, on my own, little by little as the year went on. Ideally, that is not how I had wished to open my business and it was VERY stressful, but you have to play with the cards you are dealt. However, I strongly feel that my age also plays as an advantage in this industry, it allows me to be closer to “today’s style” when it comes to dance moves and also music tastes. Me being so young I feel has made me more determined to do big things for not only myself and the studio, but also this town.

5. When is your busiest time of the year?

The busiest time of the year is by far the end of March through the beginning of June. We start our traveling for our competitions in March and they go all the way until the end of May. During competitions, we are also getting everything perfected and ready for our end of the season that is held the beginning of June.

6. What is the most popular thing you sell/service you provide?

As far as classes go, Hip-Hop is the most popular class that is taught at Dancepiration.

7. What is a less popular thing/service you would recommend?

One of the less popular classes that are offered at Dancepiration is pointe class. A huge misconception about pointe is the difficulty level that it truly entails. People think that just because they were in ballet class, they are able to take pointe without a problem, but that’s where they’re wrong. You have to build the strength in not only your legs but also your ankles. However, pointe entails a lot of physical strength and I highly recommend it to any dancer because due to the strength that is needed and the difficulty level, it’s not only another dance genre, but pointe is one of the classes that teach dancers to be resilient and keep trying.

8. What is the thing you most like to do as part of your business?

As cliche as it may sound, my favorite thing I like to do most is teaching the kids dance. Growing a bond with each dancer is very important to me. I love installing that same passion for dance that I have into each and every one of my dancers. One of the best things is seeing the growth of each dancer from the very first practice all the way to the last one and seeing how much they have grown not only in their dancing career, but also their personalities.

9. What is the best thing about owning your own business?

If I had to pick one of the best things about owning my own business, it wold have to be solely being my own boss. I like being able to decide things on my own without having to run it by someone or ask permission from somebody higher up than me. Setting my own hours and working when it’s best convenient for my life is so huge for me since I am very family oriented.

10. What is the biggest downside?

One of the biggest downsides of owning your own business, all by yourself, is that I am in charge of making sure everything is running smoothly and according to plan. It gets very stressful having to teach classes, have competitions every weekend, making sure all the dances are getting finished at the right time, ordering costumes, staying on top of paperwork, and also planning for recital, but let me tell you, as soon as recital ends and I see all the hard work from the kids have paid off and seeing everything run smoothly, that’s when I know that all the stress was well worth it.

11. What is the biggest misconception about your business?

I think one of the biggest misconception about Dancepiration is that A LOT of people think that we are just a studio for competition teams that travel to several competitions to compete because that’s what gets a lot of attention on social media and shown to the public eye, but that’s not the case. On top of the competition teams, there are also regular dance classes that are offered as well such as Ballet, Hip-Hop, Tap, Pointe, Mommy & Me, and Contemporary!

12. How would you describe your business philosophy?

One of the main things I focus on with the studio is making sure that each dancer feels comfortable when they come. I want them to think of the studio as their second home. I also make sure to connect with each of my dancers and to have a special bond with them. It’s very important to me that they not only see me as their dance teacher, but also a role model or a big sister or even a second mom to some. I’m not there just to teach them dance and then send them back home, I care for each of my dancers as if they were my own family. I don’t want them to see the studio as a place were they come, learn, and leave, but want them to see it as a place where they’re welcomed with open arms no matter what.

13. When it comes time to retire is there a family member who will be taking over for you?

Retirement is a longs way away for me, but I hope that whether it’s a daughter of my own or a little girl that I taught in class, that I instilled the same love for dance into them that I have to make them want to take over the studio when I decide to hang up my dance shoes for good.

14. How has your business changed over the years?

With being two years old, my business is obviously still growing and will continue to, but I think in just the past two years the kiddos at Dancepiration have truly blossomed so much. We’ve won so many awards we didn’t even think we’re possible, we’re making dreams into a reality, and our love towards dance and towards each other only continues to grow.

15. What advice would you give someone thinking about starting a business?

My only advice for someone thinking about starting a business is to stop thinking and just do it. When you think about doing something, you overthink and start to worry which could lead to doubting yourself and what you’re capable of. Yes, there are bumps in the road, it is very terrifying, and a lot of things don’t go your way, but I promise you that whether it’s easy or not, it’s most certainly worth it.