A student running an Irish dance school
I'm Anna, the founder of Dundee Dance Studios. I'm from Finland and I moved here in Dundee in 2009 to study physiology. I had been teaching Irish dance in Finland for a few years and that drive did not get left behind, so I started Irish Dance Studio during my second year of studies in January 2011.
And yes as you probably guessed, it was a challenge! But by the end of it, in June 2013 I graduated with a 2.1 in Bsc(Hons) Physiological Sciences. During that time my dance school had grown from running 2 adult classes a week to having 3 adult classes, 2 kids classes and a fitness class, weekend workshops and private students, a performance group called Celtic Beat Irish Dance Company, a few dance school fundraisers done and numerous performances at local events and festivals and private parties. Physiology was interesting and I now have a profound understanding in human biology, but I didn't feel like getting a science job yet.
So I decided to go for it. Dance and teaching it is my passion. Also, I thought it was a great shame Dundee did not have a dance school that offered a large variety of dance classes for adults as well. Dundee is growing and changing fast, so it was high time this kind of dance school was started!
I searched and hired a great team of teachers who shared my passion for dance to cover a number of dance styles and I started looking for premises. I encountered many set backs and oh boy, it really took some dedication to keep going. Eventually the best place was the hall at Tayside Deaf Hub that had homed my Irish classes for a few years already. Now we also hire a hall at Nilupul centre in the heart of Dundee.
Also, I did end up getting a full-time job as a laboratory management support technician, assisting a lab manager running a lab within Dundee University since late 2013 and I've enjoyed beng able to use my science degree as well as using a whole range of skills running DDS. Best of both worlds!
August 2014 update: It's been a year now!!
So, the first year of DDS has passed and it has been eventful! And learning from it all I have plenty of new ideas how to improve the service I provide. Firstly, our new payment system will allow to pick and mix classes and it will be easier to try new styles and attend classes flexibly. So now instead of monthly course dates you can join at any point. Secondly, we are now offering private classes as well and training up performance groups. Lastly, we are expanding into Mum & Baby classes and see if they pick up! So, plenty of exciting things for this year :)
As before, I don't want the gym to be the only option for people to get fit. Dancing is such a great way to get some exercise and I hope the new changes will encourage people to give the whole range of classes a go and find a style they love.
November 2014 update: Sooooo busy!
The new class cards have been a success and classes are getting busier and busier. One night a fellow Finn came to urban class and it turned out she was a very experienced in Dancehall! A couple of weeks later Vilja taught her first taster class and now we offer dancehall on a weekly basis.
I've started receiving more and more performance requests, so my next focus is now setting up more performance groups and regular show classes to train the dancers up. Also, networking with other business owners has been exciting, resulting in for example Christmas package deals with Nat's Natural Therapies.
Overall, this autumn has been very rewarding, however I feel like there aren't enough hours in a day to get as much done as I would like, haha!
July 2015 update: I have my own studio!
In May I found a unit within Old Mill Complex on Brown Street that had the potential for a studio space. I took it and had it stripped, new walls went up and after a couple of months of long hours renovating the place and litres of green, pink, blue and white paint, we had a grand opening in July. A massive milestone reached and I've never been as happy (or tired) in my life! Jeannette Ginslov joined the teaching team and we started our new 50+ classes and Laura Marshall joined our teaching experience programme as a fresh comtemporary dance graduate.
January 2016 update: Pilates teacher training
Since 2012 I had been teaching Lean & Toned: a body conditioning class mixing ballet barre exercises and mat exercises for the core and upper body. Around the same time I became very interested in Pilates and becoming a Pilates instructor one day became one of my goals. In November 2015 I finally started the training in London and by January 2016 I qualified to teach up to intermediate level Pilates. By June I will have my full Level 3 Advanced Diploma in Pilates instructing, and I'll be able to teach all levels. I have completely fallen in love with Pilates and teaching it, so refreshing teaching something new after 10 years of teaching Irish! 2016 also marked that milestone: I started teaching Irish in Finland in 2006. A whole decade!! The lovely Lucy Wilson left us as she moved to Edinburgh (and is very much missed!) and Amy Reid (kids street and jazz) and Erin Kenny (yoga) joined the team. Other news worth mentioning, in November we performed as a part of the Great Big Dance Show at the Rep, which was an amazing experience for our students.
March 2016 update: I QUIT MY LAB JOB!!!!! :DDDDD
The time has finally come. Having my own studio space DDS has grown so so much! I'm finally able to fully focus on it and have only one full time job now. I now manage 45 classes a week and look after my 7 staff, teach 7 (soon 11) classes a week myself and keep everything online up to date! I thoroughly enjoyed working at the Molecular Microbiology lab within Dundee University, but not so much the overall combined work hours I had which were pretty inhuman... I bet from April onwards when I only get to do DDS I'll soon wonder how on earth was I ever able to have another 9-5 on top!!
May 2016 update: Taking over Sabrina Faith Simpson's Dundee Pilates Studios
DDS is suddenly expanding by 2 new studios. Yes, really. I'm taking over Sabrina's 10+ Pilates classes and her 2 studios on North Isla Street on June 1st. This could not have happened at a better time!! My Pilates classes are growing so fast it's all a bit unreal. We're also getting ready for our end of term shows: 3 kids shows and an adult students show on May 27th & 28th.
November 2016 update: new logo and website, 4 new teachers and new dance styles
We've settled in nicely at the new studios and made it feel like home, and now doing a bit of upgrading as well: I'm getting a new bigger waiting room area done. Studio 3 is soon getting upgraded mirrors too! I also designed a new logo and gave the website a little makeover. I have also hired 2 new belly dance teachers Andreea Oniga and Olivia Nater, Joao Baiao is now teaching ballroom, latin and latin fitness, and Megan Sands took over adult street classes after Aga left Dundee to pursue her make up artist career in London. We also have a new work experience intern, Rachel helping out at our kids classes. DDS got to be a part GBDS at the Rep again on November 3rd, for which I created a fusion piece called Fall & Rise, using ballet, street, irish and contemporary to tell a story about the struggles in life and overcoming them. On November 26th DDS will also be a part of Tay FM's charity show at the Whitehall theatre, as well as getting ready for our own end of term show at Dudhope community centre on December 10th. Busy as ever! Also, I've reached a milestone: I've now taught dance for a decade and run my own dance school for 5 years. Should I feel old? ;)