Meet Jessica Goldman of Dance Forever
I moved to Chicago at 22 years old with hopes of continuing my dance career. I danced for the University of Minnesota in college and was a Minnesota Vikings Cheerleader while in school. When I initially moved to Chicago, I continued my professional dance career through dancing as a Chicago Luvabull. My original day time job was in advertising and then I pivoted and worked at a ballroom studio so that I could learn beyond the traditional forms of dance. After that experience, I saw an opportunity to bring my vision into the community with starting All About Dance in 2005. I wanted to create a dance studio that fostered an environment that was welcoming, fun, and where people could feel good in their skin. I started by teaching at local schools and camps and focusing on inclusivity, the love of dance, and a judgement free zone for children. I knew that those values as a foundation would serve to those that wanted to pursue a more serious dance curriculum and evolve into a competitive and company dance program.
At the same time that we created kids classes, we recognized that there were tons of young women who had to give up their dance experiences for a career or simply because there was not an avenue to be a dancer without it being centered around fitness or highly technical. That need, one which I could directly relate to, evolved into Dance Forever, our adult program. These are Dance classes where everything dance is central to the experience from fitness, technique, wedding dance and fun dance parties. We believe that dance is the most mood enhancing, body re-centering, endorphin-releasing, fat burning, body strengthening, community bonding exercise in the world. Our teachers are professional dancers and our students can connect emotionally with the energy from dance that is so valuable to them while getting a great workout and connecting with others.
I started the business at 25 without any business experience or any real knowledge of small business. I had a great deal of depth in my product and a strong vision and understanding for how I wanted the classes and environment to operate, but the challenges of not knowing what I didn’t know and then learning to navigate some of the other parts of the business resulted in a big learning curve that was at times a bumpy road.
We had upstairs neighbors who constantly called the police on us because of our sound and after the initial fear wore off, it became a nuisance that had to be dealt with consistently. Navigating the relationships with the kid’s parents and some of the social elements of operating a kids dance studio was a new experience for me and required a lot of growth. Hiring and managing employees, most of who were my friends and peers, was an entirely different set of challenges and nuances that required me to evolve into having difficult conversations and serving as a manager, all things I had not experienced in the past.
We’ve also grown quite a bit over the years and each element of growth has a times been filled with challenges related to financing, staffing, programming, and a million other things. My advice is that as long as you stick to your core values, make your decisions from a place of honesty and truth to your mission, then everything will work itself out. We’ve built a special community and some of that evolved out of the struggle along the way.
We are the leading dance studio in Chicago. We teach a wide variety of children’s and adult programs and specialize in all things dance within a community built on love, inclusivity, trust, fun, and connection. We’re known for offering a high quality class in an environment that supports personal growth and confidence and serves as a cornerstone of the community related to kids activities. I am extraordinarily proud of the team that we’ve built, the tenure of a lot of our teachers, and the role models that they serve as for our students.
Our adult program (Dance Forever) has become a sanctuary for our community. It feels like a high end lounge, not a fitness facility, but it leaves adult students with the combined feeling of having one their best nights out met with a tremendous workout, all amongst friends. Many of the students have become friends and it has expanded their network in the city just like dance introduces new friends for children. We are very proud to be filling that void for the adult dancer and give them something that brings a smile to their face every day. We also have revolutionized the way wedding couples learn to dance and host the most amazing birthday and bacelorette parties that are unforgettable experiences!
What sets us apart and differentiates us is the authenticity of our community. We are very selective with our teachers and staff and we manage and operate a curriculum and class structure that is bound by our value system. Whether our clients see that directly or they just feel it intuitively, it ultimately creates a environment that leaves people feeling positive and gives them skills to impact all aspects of their lives.
My feeling of success is defined by infecting people with positive energy. I’ve served my role if people feel better leaving our studio – (now virtual) than they did when they walked in the door, create friendships, build support groups, and give each other the tools they need to navigate life.
All About Dance & Dance Forever started as a dream and has grown into a team of over 50 people who have collectively created the magic that is AAD & DF, and success to me is to continue to be able to provide them with the ability to pursue a career in their passion for dance. I’d like to continue to grow the company so that we can impact more people, spread our value system, and do our part to improve people’s lives.
Have fun, Be young & Dance Forever!