Being a dance studio owner can be a huge financial struggle and ultimately soul-destroying. Ahead of the pack is Backstage Dance Academy—one of the most prestigious dance studios in Melbourne. The leading lady turning the wheels of this business Jessica Solomon explains what makes her studio tick.
When budding studio owner Jessica Solomon started out, she had no formal training in running a small business. She taught herself the tricks of the trade and proved to be good at it. All she owned was a vision and a clear trajectory pathway.
I was always going to be a studio owner,” said Jessica.
My current vision for myself and my studio is to wake up more innovative than the last, more vibrant and be more inspirational to my dancers.”
Backstage Dance Academy began 10 years ago after Jessica worked at Tokyo Disney on a performer contract. With enough capital to start her own business, Jessica began her career from scratch with only a handful of students. Jessica was picked up in a local newspaper as the girl who had made it to Tokyo Disney and was opening her own studio. Days after the article was published, she had 80 young dancers walking through her door.
Jessica had introduced styles that were on trend with the professional dance industry such as acrobatics, funk, drama, and singing. Backstage Dance Academy quickly became a fully functioning performance centre.
I was passionate about opening a school that had up-to-date choreography and a variety of styles,” said Jessica.
After studying full-time at Dance Factory and working in the industry (Melbourne Storm cheerleader, Footy Show, children’s entertainment and more), Jessica brought a wealth of professional knowledge to her students. Each child who walked through her door was instantly passionate about dance and of her style of coaching.
Straight away we establish an awesome relationship between teacher and student, and over the decade we have grown to be a family,” Jessica smiled.
“Our dancers are obsessed with dance, so really it is not a chore to progress each dancer’s ability,” she added.
Jessica watched her school rapidly grow into the hundreds. Competition in the area soared with schools adopting more dance styles, hiring industry rated teaching staff and embracing new choreography.
Backstage Dance Academy’s choreography always dominated at competitions partly because Jessica had created her own Jazz syllabus formulated to suit the choreography she was putting on the students.
Our juniors aged 5-8 learn the same work as any other syllabus would teach, sticking to the general guideline of warm up and progressions across the room. But, it is more specific to our choreography.”
The type of choreography Jessica likes to use includes fast-paced, dynamic movements that truly push the boundaries in a safe way of what judges might see at competitions. Many of her dedicated staff also work in the industry as professional dancers or choreographers, which brings a higher quality of instruction to her studio.
While our teachers are young and on trend, they understand the business concepts of liability, responsibility and of course have a professional grasp on style and choreography,” told Jessica.
More than just knowing about style and movement, Jessica works in a very methodical way to ensure her routines are of the highest standard. She has her own choreography book that is covered in different colours and notes.
I am very methodical in my approach to choreography, but I am also creative, so I think it is nice to have that balance,” said Jessica.
Her choreographic process involves drawing formations, applying movement to those formations then adding the students into the piece by backtracking from end to beginning—all with colour coordinating using highlighters.
It is definitely a reflection of my super organisational skills!” Jessica laughed.
Above all her organisation and creativity lies a true businesswoman. Jessica spent years crafting her perfect dance studio by wearing all different hats—from teacher to administrator to marketer—which, has indirectly broadened her scope of what the role of a businesswoman entails.
We all have the power to create a business that allows us to pay ourselves, give ourselves a break and feel like we have accomplished something, like Jessica. All we need is a lot of passion, organisation, and vision.Find out more about Backstage Dance Academy here.