Now is a very good time to slow down and look back because covid19 has closed stilldancing studio for a while. The whole Salmisaari is quiet. It’s only me and my media team. We are filming the online lessons for StillDancing students. For me as a dance teacher and an entrepreneur this means that I have time to do things I normally postpone. This is also time for inspiration and planning the future. At the moment I’m working on the schedule for next autumn. I also have a lot more time for my own training. And now is the perfect time to write my first blog post.
This post is about StillDancing. How it is born, how did I end up to start my own dance studio and how all the challenges has developed and made me stronger as an entrepreneur and as a dance teacher. So let’s get back to the moment when StillDancing studio started to get real, and ever since it has kept me busy.
I have been teaching dance a long time. I started years ago in Oulu where I taught children and young people. I moved to Helsinki 2010 and started to work at a local salsa dance school as a secretary in the evenings at the same time that I was studying psychology during the day time. That was the time I started to learn salsa and bachata. During those years I learned so much about latin dances and I got to practise with the best dancers and teachers on an international level. My idol that time was Melissa Fernandes. I started teaching more actively in 2014 at another local dance studio. During those years I developed my skills so much more as a dancer and as an entrepreneur.
During last years I have taught salsa and bachata and I have coached performing show teams. I have also joined international competitions and succeeded well. The last competition I joined was World Salsa Summit in Miami in January 2020. We got the sixth place in the professional bachata classic category with my dance partner Niklas.
I had the vision of my own dance studio for a while… I was even making some calculations when dreaming..Ideas come and go but I always ended up thinking that there would be no sense to start up my own dance school, even if the vision was very clear in my mind. I was scared… and in the next moment I believed in it totally.. and the next moment again I felt insecure. I’ve always been the artist type, a dreamer, Alice in Wonderland you name it.. so the idea to start to run my own dance studio frightened me. l was thinking how will I manage with organizing and marketing? How do I motivate myself to deal with smartum’s and other stuff while I only wanted to dance, sing, bake.. I asked my friend Susa Mattson why she never opened her own dance school? She said that smartum’s are just too much. So I questioned myself too. It just is not my thing, even I had done it since 2010 as a secretary. That time I was standing on the wrong side of the table. NOW it’s the time to take back and dance everyday at my own dance studio.
Great people pushing me forward!
My friends and my students inspired me and pushed me to make my dreams come true. They believed in me and they wanted to be part of the new dance community which we would build together in good spirits. Many of the students had felt that in so many salsa schools the team spirit is not very good and the action is not as professional as they want it to be.
Suddenly things just started to happen. Every problem just got solved one at a time.
At first I happened to find a beautiful place for my dance studio. I found it with the help of my friend. She sent me a picture of her standing in front of my studio on her way to the gym. At that time this place was an empty hallway, little rubbish here and there but soon it will be filled with dance, music, joy and laughter! So when I got the message I went to meet my friend immediately. And I showed her where we will put the mirrors and where we will dance. This picture is taken at this moment. I’m showing my friend that i’m working with my laptop at my own school. 🙂
The space was perfect! The location is great, the space has big windows with a sea view, there are nice locker rooms and even the floor material is perfect for dancing!
This is too good to be true! I felt sad because I thought I couldn’t ever afford this! But dreaming is aloud!! I’m definitely a dreamer! But hey, here we are now! Still dancing is real! Somehow it all just happened and sooner than I could imagine we could open the doors of my very own dance school!
Here we go!
It’s amazing how I always meet the right person for my next step and challenge. I found people to help me with marketing, graphic and website design and so on… all my closest people have helped me so much to get all things together.
And even sooner than I could have ever imagined Still Dancing was truly alive!! The most important thing that I needed to do was to make the decision and then it just started to happen.
In January we opened Still Dancing Studio! January 2020 was exciting in many ways because we were preparing to compete in Miami in the World Salsa Summit. We got the 6th place in Bachata and last year we took 6th place in Salsa. Right after we got home, we had the grand opening party at StillDancing studio. Over 100 people joined the party! Where did they find us after two weeks marketing?
My parents came all the way from Oulu to join the opening party. They thought we would celebrate with the family and few friends. Well my family has grown quite a lot here in Helsinki! 😀
The party was a success! The atmosphere was something so unique and on that day I realized that luckily I was brave enough to do this! I had the closest people by my side at the party. And one of them gave a very special speech, it goes like this:
“Dear Hanna and friends,
It is a pleasure to be here and get to say a few words at the opening party of a beautiful StillDancing studio.
It has been a joy to see Hanna from the beginning of teaching teams in Tapiola and now as the owner of the most amazing dance school in town.
Thinking about Hanna I get a few words in my head. And I noticed that I have listed 5 of the most important features of an entrepreneur.
passion – passionated are those who create, make things happen, work hard and chance the world.
authenticity – Hanna speaks the dialect of Oulu and giggles to her own silly jokes. She’s so natural and shows all her emotions. She encourages everyone around her to unwear masks and to be themselves.
community – Near Hanna the atmosphere is comfortable and warm. IT is so uncommon how a strong community has built around StillDancing already.
natural pedagog – Always as inspiring, encouraging, challenging, organized and motivating! I don’t remember leaving any of the classes without learning something new. I always have a smile on my face after Hannas class. That’s just how Hanna is as a teacher.
perseverance – Sometimes you need so much strength, risk taking and inner power more than ever. Last months has shown that Hanna has it all! “
The speech of Paula says it all. IT describes everything that has happened during the last months and this speech encourages and gives me hope for the rest of my life on my path as a dance teacher. So thank you dear Paula! These moments are the highlights of one’s career! And it touches so many other people around me as well, the students, my loved ones and the whole community. The community is the base of what I do and that is why it is so important to me. Good moments are meant to be shared and real success is earned together.
The challenges of an entrepreneur
I have been self employed for many many years and the most difficult times so far I have faced when opening Still Dancing. With Still Dancing it all is going very well but unfortunately there has been some difficulties on my way. But I believe that challenges and difficulties make us stronger and we will see it all clear later on.
When I live my dream on top of my career, some people might feel bad. When opening Still Dancing studio some people from my past have tried to put me down. It definitely has taken energy from me. And this all happened when I was supposed to be at my best in the World Salsa Summit in Miami.
I learned I can handle this with common sense and the support of my community. Even facing these difficulties life felt meaningful. I was a brand new owner of a dance school and surrounded by great people. These times touched many people in the dance community and it made me think about what is allowed in dance communities and what is not.
Power from the community
The power of the community is priceless! I have been so lucky to witness the goodness and help of people. This is something money cannot buy! The difficulties haven’t affected my passion for dancing and I think under pressure I have become more productive! Dreaming has transformed into action! I am so thankful for all the experiences. After the difficult times I have found people who belong by my side. The people I love to work with. We respect each other and the cooperation is long lasting. My table is clear now and I can develop business in line with my values.
Note to myself
Difficult life situations need to be taken as lessons and challenging times have pushed me forward. All life situations come with a meaning and that’s why life can always feel appropriate.
After all, StillDancing studio was born and grown as a dance community with a healthy atmosphere and good spirit. The teacher is feeling good as well!
Good luck all! And see you at the parties!
Sending love to you all, Hanna Still Dancing