Spellbinding and engaging, dance-kids class in dances from around the world are now a hot favorite among parents with children aged 2.5 to 16. Young entrepreneur Mirabelle da Cruz, qualified to teach dance through the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing, London, noticed the gap in the existing world of dance for children and created a fabuous school whose curriculum encompasses not only exotic dance forms not taught by anyone in this country,
but has also added value by amalgamating education and global cultural awareness into a scalable program. world geography, fractions in math, concepts of rotation and revolution in science are all taught through dance. All this while building good posture, toning muscle and making kids have oodles of fun.
Mirabelle says "dance-kids is the first truly professional dance school in India with international certification and continuing affiliations. The emphasis is to change perceptions of dance as a mindless “monkey-see-monkey-do” weekly fitness class. All our world dance programs are accompanied with dance worksheets that contain cultural information, craft, no-fire cooking and folk stories. For those that wish to study dance more seriously, we offer exams through the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing, London that is recognized the world over as having the highest standards of excellence. "
while most programs require a year long commitment, dance-kids also caters to the need of a new generation of parents and children with programs such as the Parent-Tot dance Movement Program, where parents can spend time dancing and reinforcing concepts with their little giggle bugs. Other hit programs include Father Daughter rock and roll classes, dance camps etc, interdisciplinary workshops and courses in dance and writing as well as dance-camps."
Dancing is always appreciated, it is not only a method to relax, celebrate or exercise, it has more reach and scope, Mirabelle explains "dance-kids has a well researched, tried and tested dance curriculum and business model that is scalable. Since it also allows for interdisciplinary activities through dance, and encompasses the whole range of kids from 2 to 16, the growth scope is phenomenal.” They specifically cater to the modern, professionally educated parents desire to have their child be a part of organization that create unique experiences that are enriching , fun and also accord themselves as being culturally elite.
Dance and entrepreneurship go hand in hand for her, she says " The business was a proprietorship and we are working towards making it a partnership. We look at making deserving employees our dance collaborators to create win-win situations, so we can retain their talent and help them grow financially and professionally. Our business model is simple, attract kids at a young age who then continue to become long term clients." With regular enquires to open in other cities, dance-kids is now working towards opening more centres and developing more teachers, who form the backbone of successful implementation of our wonderful curriculum. Our current students are our future teachers and partners"
For Mirabelle dance is a way of life that translated into a lifelong vocation, she says "I am extremely passionate about what I do and have been since I was 5 years old and started dancing. I noticed people’s perceptions of dance as being mindless all through my childhood and when I pursued it into adulthood. I realized also that parents will do almost anything for their kids to be smarter and socially confident. Therefore, dance-kids came together. And honestly none of the other dance schools were inspiring. Even big names were just engaging in mindless dancercise, so I had no intention of associating with something that didn't meet international standards. Also the niche market for non-bollywood dance is huge. Our program fits beautifully into the curriculum of educational institutions, whether at pre school, ICSE or IB level "
As a woman in an industry with some very powerful competition, she encountered her biggest challenges, she says “The biggest challenge has been to be taken seriously as a woman. As the only well known woman entrepreneur in the field of western dance, it was pretty challenging to gain credibility in a male dominated industry. There are many female dancers, but no female entrepreneurs. Also creating awareness about dance education as a concept was quite a challenge. Lots of parents thought we were just exaggerating when we said for instance, that kids could learn fractions through dance. Another startup challenge was finding trained and passionate teachers as there are no dance colleges to do campus interviews and what we do is so unique, everyone has to be trained from scratch."
Initially when she has to focus on earning a living, she started teaching both adults and kids. The mixed press coverage created confusion in the minds of people. Mirabelle claims that another mistake was that "I did not think of scalability and long term initially as I was just focusing on what I could do so I could earn a living and prove that I could make it as a dance entrepreneur."
When it came to seed capital it was an easier task she says "Thankfully all I needed was a music system. I borrowed 7,000 rupees from my dad and repaid it shortly. We started with 6 students and 1 centre in 2002. Last year we had 450 students and 6 centres. we have had celebrity children and children with learning disabilities and we have given them all joy and freedom that no one can take away from them."
She feels proud to have done her bit to elevate dance not only as an art form or a venture but as a learning tool,she declares "Creating awareness and recognition of a genre of world dances and dance education and watching how people who were skeptical of the program years ago are now falling over each other to be part of it. We had the first ever international dance exams in India at dance-kids. Also a huge achievement has been the progress of the kids in terms of technical skill, confidence and most importantly in teaching them professionalism and respect for their efforts an achievements no matter how big or small. We are creating happy individuals/children and teaching them how to sustain that happiness in a world outside of dance as well. Its priceless."
The Asian Age woman’s day special edition, covered Mirabelle as the youngest successful female entrepreneur, putting yet another proud feather in her cap. She explains her motivations for continuing on her path saying "Belief in the reality of my dream and wisdom that all the bumps are to teach me something so I'm poised for the bigger challenges that will face the organization when it becomes SUPERSIZED"
We asked her what she considered to be her proud personal achievement and though we expected a dance award, she replied "Being the youngest and second Indian woman to be qualified to teach dance through he Imperial Dance Society, London and to bring that skill to India and have Indian students have that opportunity that this far was not available to them at all!!"
To all the Young Entrepreneurs with drive and indomitable spirit, Mirabelle advises "Follow your intuition, temper it with research and market study. Study peoples behaviours not just data on the same. Look for opportunity where it appears tedious. Get your system in place before getting your product out. Don’t take things personally….its all about perception. Save and invest wisely. Don’t make ANY assumptions. Eat, exercise and sleep well….nothing is worth bad health. Don’t be stingy. Learn to give and receive compliments graciously. Do things that create win –win situations for all. It’s the surest way to make everyone feel the organization and its gains are their too and then watch it grow."
We at Yourstory attended one of Mirabelle’s dance class and came out totally amazed by her commitment and the way she is nurturing the young leaders of tomorrow. Wish dance- kids spreads its wing across the country.