We caught up with one of our longtime clients, Molly, to get her thoughts on the studio. Molly is an architect who takes several dance classes a week, and ALWAYS has a smile on her face. Oh PS, she’s amazing :)
You’ve been with iDance for quite some time now! Tell us about it.
I’m originally from the UK and have been in Vancouver for 5 years. I think I started coming to iDance pretty soon after arriving, so probably 4 years ago. It’s dramatically, exponentially improved since Amanda [Hemmaway] took over. Although the space is small there’s something about it that’s really conducive to personal interaction. I feel like everyone’s made much better friends since we’ve been in this space. I don’t know whether it’s because it’s so bright with those gorgeous views of the mountains, or because there’s a good reception area, or it’s just Amanda’s attitude and the lovely staff she has. In this place, everyone is just really really lovely and personable. Quite frankly, I would just go there and sit in the waiting room, it’s definitely good for the soul!
We think so too! What are your thoughts on the staff?
Every time you walk in you get such a lovely reception and it lifts your spirits, even if you’re having a rubbish day there’s always a smile. And all the teachers are so un-intimidating and passionate about what they do and full of energy. Whoever you are, whether you’ve danced before or not, the class is so inclusive. And I know they say that on the website but it really is. I’ve taken friends of mine who’ve never danced before and they have a good time. They’ve even started coming more regularly themselves because they really like the atmosphere and the energy.
That’s awesome! So how did you get started at iDance?
I wanted to do a Bollywood class somewhere, and so I just googled it and iDance came up at the time. So I tried it, then I started doing bootcamps. I was really coming because I liked dancing, but only in my living room! I kind of wanted to do something enjoyable that was fitness based, so I started off with the bootcamps, and then the Zumba classes, then weaved my way into the choreography classes from there.
So it sounds like you were a bit hesitant to try a choreography class at first. What would you say to people who feel intimidated by those classes?
Don’t be! You think the group setting of dance is going to be intimidating and that people are going to call you out, but the camaraderie at iDance is so brilliant. Even the harder classes, the people in there aren’t intermediate dancers necessarily but because the camaraderie is so good everyone has a fantastic time. They’re all kind of laughing together if they have no idea what’s going on!
Yeah it’s all about just having fun and getting your sweat on! Do you go anywhere else for exercise?
You know the nice thing about iDance is there’s such a variety. In fact for me, it’s the only place I go because you don’t need to do anything else. And gyms are so boring! At iDance you’ve got the more upbeat classes like house, grooving, and Zumba, and then you’ve got the strengthening classes like ballet barre, and then you’ve got a workout for your mind which is all the choreography classes. The variety is great because you can do whichever classes you want. If you’re injured you don’t have to push yourself too hard, but if you’re feeling good you can push yourself a lot.
What does iDance do differently than other studios (if anything)?
I’ve been to several other places and I really think it’s the friendliness. I think it’s got a real niche in the market because everywhere else might ostensibly offer the same product but you don’t truly get that un-intimidating kind of warmth and friendliness that you get in iDance. It’s just a very very different experience. Everywhere else you go into the class, you do the class and then you leave. You have a good time and you get a bit of a workout but there’s something more vibrant and fun about iDance, and it’s so laid back. It sounds really cheesy but it does kind of feel like a family. If you don’t show up for class sometimes people kind of check up on you [smiles].
I know a number of people who have said, myself included, that when life gets a bit hectic, it’s kind of kept them sane. It breaks them out of their bubble, whatever’s going on. And just to go and see everybody’s smiley faces and go dance it out, it’s really been their therapy. I’ve felt that but I know various other people have said the same things. Amanda and everyone should be so proud of what they’ve fostered and what they’ve developed.
Amanda definitely goes above and beyond what she needs to do. She has so much zeal for the business. I think I’ve said to her, and it’s true, that there were times when I felt like it’s kind of kept me alive [laughs].
That makes our hearts smile :)…Do you have a favourite class?
My favourite class is house. Maybe it’s partly reliving some of my youth since it was the kind of music we would all go and dance to when I was 17 or 18. I think that’s why I liked it initially, just jumping around to club music. And it kind of feels more natural to me. It’s so fun and just feels so fluid. And it comes down to the instructor. Kyle is such a fabulous teacher, and I know everyone else loves him as well, you can just tell. It’s like Roberta’s classes - it’s a hip hop class so you can get that anywhere, but because she’s so full of energy and she’s so funny people just keep coming back to bask in her presence for an hour [laughs]. It takes a very special skill to be able to teach.
I’ve recently gotten into the ballet classes, which I thought would be very intimidating since I had no dance background, but it was just in my head. The fundamentals class is great, and Caitlin is really lovely. I really really enjoy it, and find it incredibly relaxing. It’s actually connecting the dots for quite a lot of other dancing, you get used to quite a lot of the terminology that other teachers throw in there. And I would say it’s as relaxing as yoga, after that ballet class I am zenned.
And Zumba. Hercy is a fantastic teacher. She’s a little fire cracker of energy. And Kayli’s hip hop, Hilary’s yoga, and Case’s grooving classes, oh it’s just really hard to pick out a favourite, they’re all great.
Oh something else that I think is quite unique to the studio is the Friday night feature classes. They’re so affordable, I think it’s only about $10 to go, and then it really keeps everything spicy. We did hawaiian dance, hula dance, fosse, broadway jazz, swing, lindy hop stuff, acroyoga, it’s brilliant, for so cheap, to just be immersed in all these different styles.
Has dance changed you at all or helped you improve?
Good question, I think it’s definitely helped me make friends in Vancouver which is notoriously a hard city to make friends in. I definitely improved my fitness without even realizing. Dance is so much fun it kind of just sneaks up on you that you’ve lost weight and you’re toned and you didn’t even notice! I think I have osmosed quite a lot of dance knowledge, again without really realizing it. I’m kind of there for the moment to just enjoy myself but you can’t help pick it up. You do see the progression over time of how much you’re improving, so that’s really satisfying. And that feeds back into improving your confidence. I remember when I first started taking Roberta’s class I would always stand in the back and keep to myself, but now I’m up there with everyone else shaking a tail feather.
It’s so good to push yourself in a controlled environment - like if they break you into groups and you have to do the routine, or do it without the teacher, and your brain is screaming at you to not do that because it’s embarrassing…but then you just think “I’m just going to do it anyway”. It’s a really good learning experience for the rest of life, to just do it anyway, despite what your inhibitions might be telling you.
Do you think practicing choreography is good for the brain?
Oh it’s brilliant, it’s like doing a Sudoku or something. It’s so absorbing because your mind and your body are working - it’s like an all over meditation experience. You’re just completely absorbed in what you’re doing, which is why dance has such a good ability to make you feel better because it just pulls you out of whatever you’re doing in your day to day world. The choreography classes really just break that spell because you have to focus on the choreography.
We feel you for sure! Are there any little known facts about you that you want to share with us before you go? :)
I really like anything to do with art. I paint and draw and make things :)
Very cool! Thanks so much for the kind words Molly, we’re blushing! We love you and love having you at the studio!