From small things….
Can you believe Bey Dance only came into creation in November 2013? Look! Here’s a picture of the very night Lauren, Gemma and I stood at the Mrs Carter World Tour and decided Bey Dance needed to be A Thing.
For those of you who don’t know the back story, Here it is in a nutshell (which means: not really a nutshell at all, but I'll try to distract you with photos)…
Bey Dance Director, Lauren, and I have been friends since we performed in an Adelaide Fringe show together in 2011. Incidentally this show closed with the dance to All the Single Ladies. Coincidence? I think not.
In 2011 I started teaching Beyoncé themed dance classes casually, once a week, mainly for friends and friends of friends.
In 2013, Lauren suggested to me that Adelaide needed Beyoncé dance classes also. Together with Gemma, standing in the audience at that fated Beyoncé concert, we dreamed up Bey Dance. Here is the moment Beyonce herself stood in front of us and blessed us with the power of Bey:
The next day we created a Facebook page, anticipating maybe 20 likes, maximum, from dedicated students only. At this stage I was teaching just one class a week (we were learning End of Time) and had only 5 students who had followed me to a dingy warehouse in Brunswick while I searched for an appropriate studio. None of us expected what happened next.
With Lauren hard at work using her genius business brain doing the behind the scenes leg work and me teaching classes and working on choreography, we watched those Facebook likes climb and climb. Within a week we must have had 300 likes. It was phenomenal. To put it in perspective, my other dance page had sat on under 200 likes for over a year. Cray.
At this point, a student recommended us to her friend who worked at Time Out. Theresa Winters attended our Wednesday course in that dingy warehouse one November evening as we learned Diva. The owners of the site had forgotten about us. It had been left set up for an art gallery. There was nowhere for us to dance and no mirrors. In short, it was a disaster. Yet, by some miracle, that class had a life of its own. Here's that amazing article:
Theresa’s article went viral. Within a few weeks we climbed to 30 students. By Christmas I couldn’t walk away from my phone for enquiries. By the time classes started up in January 2014, Bey Dance Melbourne had exploded from one, 7pm Wednesday class to five packed out classes. It was like a mad, terrifying and exhilarating dream meeting so many new students, wondering if I would live up to their expectations, hoping that Bey Dance was everything we believed it was, and wanting, more than anything, to ensure no one felt unwelcome, intimidated or judged in our classes EVER.
As the classes grew in size, and with me about to head off to Adelaide Fringe to help Lauren launch her classes, I knew I needed help. This is where the Dance Captains came in.
Keely, was a fellow art therapy student at La Trobe University when we first met. When I started my first Beyoncé class in 2011, Keely was my first student and it was also her first dance class EVER. Amazing. I knew instantly that Keely had what it took to spread the Bey love, despite never having taught a class in her life. My instincts were right. Keely has become a much loved, magnificent dance teacher and my second in command in all things related to Melbourne. She also is the power behind our popular Bey Party classes at The LuWOW. For the sake of reminiscence, here is Keely on her way to dance with me to Single Ladies at my Beyonce themed birthday in 2008:
Gemma is my cousin, who can’t get away from me, even if she wants to. So instead, she has followed me around the world performing Single Ladies at Fringe and Comedy Festivals. We have been dancing together since we were kids when I would make her learn the choreography to things and we would perform together for our family (I am 8 years older so she had to do what I said). It’s only natural that she has become one of my most dedicated Captains. Here we are, rocking the best fashions 1996 had to offer:
Gen was one of my first students in 2011, starting classes over the winter and learning Single Ladies with me. Noticing a pattern? Gen had taught for several years with a similar, grass roots dance movement called Groove, and her passion for teaching and dancing is infectious.
Angie had performed at Adelaide Fringe with Lauren and me. We were all blown away by her dance skills and beautiful voice. She was living in Prahran, so it made sense to get her leading our South Side classes. Check out her rocking the hairography in Burlesque Beauties at the Adelaide Fringe:
Rhys appeared in class in January 2014 and the second I saw him I knew he had to be one of my Captains. He exuded natural fierce grace. I also wanted a Bey Boy on my team and couldn’t have asked for more in Rhys. His dancing is completely swoonworthy.
Danni joined Bey Dance several months later and has shown incredible dedication to the classes, with the most helpful and cheerful spirit you’ll ever encounter. Her dance background and natural ability and personality made her an obvious choice to become a second in command for Bey Party.
And finally, our newest recruit, Laura Frew, became an unofficial Bey Dancer in Edinburgh when she attended my flashmob classes. She was a natural and trained dancer and picked the choreography up in the blink of an eye. Soon she was doing gigs for Hot Dub Time Machine with me, as well as her own show, Backwards Anorak. As classes have got bigger and with Angie moving back to the UK shortly, Laura was an obvious Dance Captain choice. Here's Laura and me voguing it up at Hot Dub in Edinburgh:
So. With Dance Captains appointed to Melbourne, I headed to Adelaide for a Fringe festival where our flashmob classes sold out long before Fringe even started. This led to an incredible opportunity to take Bey Dance to the Edinburgh Fringe, as well as being a brilliant launch pad for regular Adelaide classes.
It wasn’t long before Lauren also needed to appoint a Dance Captain, and that is where the lovely Chloe joined our ranks, with her beautiful contemporary choreography and classic style. Chloe brings real grace to the Bey Dance team.
The whole process of creating Bey Dance has been grass roots and community based to say the least. We’re dedicated to empowering people. We don’t look for perfect technique in our Dance Captains. We look for people who love Bey Dance, who are fierce, fab and passionate in their own ways, and who each bring something unique to the table. No two teachers share the same style, and we know that our students all have preferences for which style suits their learning needs. We hope that by demonstrating self confidence in our imperfections and joy in our dancing, we create an environment where students feel safe to try new things, make mistakes, and be a new version of themselves.
We never want Bey Dance to become homogenized, or corporate in the clinical sense of the word. No matter what, we want our students to feel like they have a voice and our teachers to feel like they are valued for their difference.
And this is what we have been working hard on as we head into the frightening and thrilling world of Business. Because…Bey Dance is now BEY DANCE PTY LTD BISHES!! Oh yeah. We’re now an official company. To be honest, it is so unnatural to me to say the word “business”, coming from a free spirited arts student background as I have, that Lauren and I can only refer to ourselves as Bidniz Ladies. It’s just too unpalatable to say the…other word…
Why have we stepped it up to this terrifying new degree? Because we want to be able to take Bey Dance to as many people as possible. We believe in this 1000%. And as enquiries swamp in every day from new students, both in Adelaide and Melbourne, but also in states we don’t yet teach in, we realized we simply couldn’t reach everyone without becoming a little more….official.
Lauren and I have been on the steepest learning curve of our lives, getting our heads around shareholder agreements, workplace safety, insurance, and all of the technological systems (like this very website!) which will streamline things, make it easier and clearer for students enrolling and set us up to spread the Bey Love all over Australia.
Well. This year I took Bey Dance to Perth. It went off. I couldn’t teach enough classes. So I asked my lovely friend Mel to become our Perth Bey Representative. Mel will be launching classes in Perth as soon as we have finalized our booking site so that everything is in place to make things as simple and easy for our WA friends as possible.
In May and June I will be starting fortnightly Sydney classes at Dance Factory in Surrey Hills. I will also be looking at taking one off classes to Canberra and Brisbane to gage whether or not you fine folks want to jump on the Bey train. Our goal is to have Bey Dance classes in every state within three years.
Always let us know if you have suggestions for classes, places you want us to visit or any feedback at all! Our greatest love is watching our students transform through the power of Bey.
All the Bey love to you and please enjoy our new website! We’ve been working hard with the help of Clear Business Dynamics in Adelaide who have guided us with great care into this new world. We can’t thank them enough. And if you even need guidance in these areas, please look them up. Young, savvy and good hearted entrepreneurs who understand exactly what a community based business needs. They’re amazing. Thank you Michael, Chris, Christos and Patrick, you guys ROCK!
As for the rest of you, see you in class real soon!