Ballet academy in your living room
She would soon find herself in need of a job to help her pay her bills and studies. That’s how part of the story began.
After some experience as an assistant Ballet teacher in Porto, at the school where she had previously gratuated in Ballet teaching, Inês applied to several schools in London, managing to work in there, for a year and a half, on a self-employed basis.
However, when the first pandemic quarantines set in and classes moved to Zoom, the need for assistant teachers became scarse, and she lost her job three times in the same year.
Back in Portugal for Christmas, Inês then decided to share Ballet classes with her friends, also as a way to overcome “saudade” (a Portuguese word with no direct match in any other language, loosely translatable as nostalgia).
Her return to her roots reminded her friends, who had always wanted to try Ballet but had never been able to, of their old passion. Either because they believed they were too old; too heavy; because they were boys; because they didn’t like the first experience… A whole bunch of excuses and myths led them, as happens with many adults, to put it off and not to even try it.
That’s when Inês thought that, even though stuck at home, it was the right time for them to feel free to do what they had always wanted to and had postponed in their lives. They wouln’t need to drive for miles to go to a Ballet studio, do gymnastics or diets to get the “perfect ballerina body” or tutu’s.
To be ready to dance, all they needed was to overcome their own beliefs and 3 simple things: their will, internet, and a chair.
With no expectations, she posted a simple message on Instagram offering free Ballet classes to her friends. All of a sudden, more and more people got interested, and after the first experiences and feedbacks, she considered looking at this initiative with entrepreneurial eyes.
And so a new online ballet studio, Studio B Academy, was born, as the home for a “little big family”. From the comfort of their own houses, students from Portugal, England, Brazil or Italy, with diverse nationalities and backgrounds – also sportsmen in need for specific coordination and strength training – gathered in Studio B Academy’s Zoom room.
“Everyone can do ballet! It’s very beneficial, on a fitness, wellness and postural level, but also great for musicality, presence, performance. It’s also a ‘me moment’ in our busy day, for relaxation, when we’re in a little computer window but together with people from all over the world, sharing that moment. That’s so special!,” says Inês enthusiastically.
As time went by, things got bigger. Accompannying the growth in the number of students, the attention given to the academy’s communication and image grew, together with the development of partnerships with brands related with the area.
There is also a growing concern in adding value to the students’ experiences through a plan of activities beyond the classes, such as specialized workshops and webinars with well known dancers.
The classes have also been diversified extending the offer range: “We’ve got fitness, abdominals, leg strength, stretching, progressing ballet technique classes, which is a mix of pilates with classical ballet techniques”, says Inês.
Ballet classes at home provide a better quality of life, allowing for more compatibility and balance with the students’ personal and professional lives.
Inês has invested in a camera, a speaker and a ballet barre, and focused on developping her communication skills using digital tools and social networks, opened a website, and started using an online scheduling and a payment application.
If she had to give one advice to other artists trying to transpose or start their artistry online in a financially sustainable way, she’d say: “Above all, it’s about giving our best. And if you really have the ability and the knowledge, hold on to it. Things don’t happen on a first try, nor on a second, not on a third, nor on a tenth, and we have to be patient. It is also important to engage our passion with a lot of study and work, inspiring ourselves with more art and culture. Because nothing grows from nothing, we always have to take something to build something else.”