with Ksenia Yanchenkova & Marcin Szymutko, Viva School of Dance
Next up in The How To Series, I’m chatting to dance teacher and dance school owner, Ksenia. We chat about how to believe in your passion and creating a career in the dance industry.
Viva School of Dance is based in several locations throughout Dublin, Ireland and has moved it’s offering online due to the covid-19 pandemic. World Dance Champion Ksenia opened the dance school with her husband, dance partner Marcin who is also a World Dance Champion.
From a young age, Ksenia was so full of passion and had the drive to follow her dreams of being a successful dancer, who one day would have her own school. Her career journey is made up of many different job experiences. Eventually leading her to the destination she always had in mind…teaching what she loves.
I hope you garner the same inspiration from this interview as I have. As well as some information for those thinking of a dance career. The online classes are a great place to start. Ksenia also shares some simple tips on How To Dance.
“When you’re faced with having no choice but to keep on trying, you’d be surprised what new opportunities that can help you make a living.”
Ksenia, summarise your career in just a few words:
I love what I do!
Talk us through your career journey
It’s been a jam-packed adventure to get where I am today. I have worked as a bartender and ironed shirts in a dry cleaners. Then I had my own project in Lake Communications and I was also a PA in a start-up company. I went on to spend five years as a Treasury Analyst followed by a year in a Senior Treasury Analyst role. All very different jobs to where I am now. We started Viva School of Dance nine years ago.
Wow! That’s quite a career mix. Tell us more about your dancing career and how to believe in your passion?
My mother wanted me to play the piano but I didn’t have a notion. After some failed exams it never really turned into anything. That’s when I started dancing. I loved it. It was my passion. I performed and competed at the highest level all over the world. However, my dad wanted me to have a professional career. He didn’t think a dance career would be able to put food on the table. So I finished school and university.
After some time working in an office environment which was a great job. I wanted to reignite my passion and start dancing again. I knew the job I was in wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. That’s when I met Marcin and the dream of teaching began to take shape. We just wanted to share our enthusiasm for the art of dance with other people.
What is the most rewarding thing about working for yourself?
You get to be your own boss. Deciding when you’re taking time off, holidays etc. Although, it is 24/7 and it can be hard to switch off. Your mind is always thinking about what you can do next, the week ahead and so on. But you get back what you put into it.
Tell us about your career highs
It would have to be my decision to take a risk and finally do what I love the most..teaching dancing!
Tell us about your career lows
Majority of us are on a similar journey now and the lockdowns have been tough. Although it is a chance to do crazy things and take some new risks in business. When you’re faced with having no choice but to keep on trying, you’d be surprised what new opportunities can help you make a living.
What’s your typical day like?
It used to be filled with days of paperwork. Remembering to rest a little and of course, lots of teaching. Now as our business is changing our days a filled with developing our online school and teaching classes online in between all the newness.
What has surprised you about taking your business online?
To be honest, I did think it would work as well as it did. We had been thinking about ways to expand. So online was already on our minds. Although we were pretty sceptical about it and felt that dance was better taught in person.
We had been so busy before covid. With no room to take on new projects. It was important for us to stay in touch with our customers. So we went online two days after the first lockdown. We also have friends from all over the world taking our classes. From conversations on how things were at home, we got some insight as to how dance classes were transitioning online from our friends in China. We took some inspiration from what they were already achieving.
The online classes were welcomed by families who’s kids already attended our classes and some new members. Parents were juggling with so much on their plate. It became part of their daily routine – school, homework and dance class. We had kids dancing on zoom every day. Weeks go by so quickly when you have no focus. It is so easy to see six weeks slip right past just eating, reading books and so on. The days were now more structured.
Why did you decide to get into your line of work?
It is my passion! Since I was 7 years of age. With passion comes courage, and I had the balls to take that risk and follow my dreams.
What do you love about your job?
It is so fulfilling to be able to share my passion with other people. I love the challenges when we start teaching new dancers. You’d be surprised some people do have 6 left feet!
What’s your least favourite task?
It would have to be all the computer/technical work like the website, etc.
What’s your favourite task?
I just love the creativity of it all. Brainstorming ideas and teaching new routines.
If you weren’t in your current career, what would you be doing?
I’d probably still be working in the office somewhere!
What advice would you like to give anyone looking to start a career in your industry?
Not only in dance but with any career you have to have a passion for it. You will be doing this job for hours and hours a day, burning out! You need to love what you do and the days will fly in. With dance, you are using double your energy. My advice is don’t start a business doing something you hate or have little love for. People buy your passion, they buy from you. It’s not just about what it is you do.
Share some how to tips you learnt over the years
If you can walk, you can dance! Like all types of exercise, dancing is very good for your mental health. Have some fun and just try it.
If you enjoyed this blog on how to follow your passion and creating a career in the dance industry. Please check out last months with Karen Conroy, an entrepreneur in the beauty industry.