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Fund101: Another step up for Dance HQ

Fund101: Another step up for Dance HQ
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Posted: Mon 10th Oct 2011

Fund101: Dancers at Dance HQ

"When I was 18, I had to go down to Chichester to do a degree in dance," recalls Susan Elena, founder of Dance HQ. "But now there's two or three places in Scotland that offer that. Scotland's changed so much in just over ten years. "One of the reasons we opened Dance HQ is because there's a lack of dance studios in Glasgow," the 31-year-old dance teacher and choreographer continues. "Also, I'd been working freelance as a teacher and choreographer and travelling all over Scotland every week. It wasn't unusual for me to rack up 750 miles a week and I was getting to the point I had to change what I did or take it to the next level with my own studio."Â  Opening Dance HQ  in September 2010 and getting the business up and running was not necessarily as straightforward as Susan makes it sound. The studio is based in a historic building, the former Templeton Carpet Factory, and the space had to be extensively remodelled before it could be used as a dance studio. Then there was the weather"¦Â  "Scotland experienced the worst winter for about 40 years last year!" Susan exclaims. "Starting a new business during snow storms wasn't easy. Simply getting our name out - there was just the snow storms in the media and nobody wanted to talk about anything other than the weather. "The first three or four months we were battling with the weather. It's been a steep learning curve," she admits. "But you've got to have them, and if we had just coasted through this first year, we'd probably be stuck in five years' time."Â  Throughout 2011, Susan's been concentrating on building up the classes and establishing Dance HQ's name. The studio employs ten freelance dance instructors and offers classes to all age groups in a variety of dance styles, including daytime classes in local schools.  Susan plans to use her £500 funding from Fund101 to buy a digital SLR camera with video capability, so Dance HQ  can improve its publicity and give people more information about what they do on their website.  "Proper video capabilities would be amazing," she enthuses. "We could put up small video clips of the classes to really explain what the difference is between one style of hip-hop and another, for example.  "You can't listen to a dance class, you've got to see it," she continues. "We can have interviews with teachers, too, so people can really understand what it is they're signing up to. You can have two similar classes, but people will go to different classes depending on the teacher. We're making it more personal so people feel like they know us as well."Â

How Dance HQ got their votesÂ

Susan Elena of Dance HQ

"We started off with Twitter, Facebook and our own newsletter," Susan reveals. "That gave us a big initial boost, but then it slowed down. I recently got engaged and at the family celebration we set up a computer and got family to vote - and it's a big family! To get the final few votes, we set up a computer in the studio and taught a few of our tutors to register people. We were getting so close and we were all getting really excited, and everybody wanted to be there when we had 500."Â

**What's next for the Glasgow dance studio?**Â

"At the moment, our classes are primarily in the evenings. So I would love to build up our timetable and get more tutors in the community and schools and deliver classes to every age group and ability. In ten years' time, we'd like to have Dance HQs in different places.  "But within the next two years, I'd like to actually employ dance tutors for different projects instead of constantly bringing in freelancers and give someone else a bit of security." There are hundreds of great small businesses looking for votes for funding from Fund101. Take a look at the applicants and cast your votes! Dance HQ  images by Martyn Phillips

 
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