Firstly, welcome to Reflections Academy of Dance and thank you for checking out our blog. My goal is to help educate dancers, parents and the general public on all things dance and more! Today, for the first blog I thought I would share a little history and how I got to where I am now! I hope this can inspire and encourage young people to reach for their dreams whether they are big or small!

My name is Kiandra and I have danced since I can remember. Well maybe even before that, but I am lucky enough to still have the DVD (cough, VCR) of my pre-school dance concert. Out of all the DVDs I have of many years dancing, those 1993 ones are my most treasured. I danced at a beautiful studio that still exists today in Knox, Tanya James School of Dance. I took jazz/ballet/tap class (when all classes were generally combined genres) and I did 3-4 items in my end of year concert. Tanya put me into a class with kids older than me as I was quite the over confident little person.

The video tells a story of a little girl who really had no idea what she was doing and was about 10 counts behind every other student, but you could NOT wipe the smile of my face. I was shaking my hips so hard and had the crowd in stitches. I still giggle to this day when I see similar little dancers at my studio with so much enthusiasm, reminding me of myself at 3 years old!

Tanya gave me my first trophy at the end of year concert and it is the only trophy I have kept since cleansing my house of the endless dust collecting medals and trophies from my dancing days. The trophy was an “encouragement award” and this has resonated with me ever since. I am not sure why she chose me, maybe she knew that I would end up in the position I am today, a studio owner, or maybe it was purely to encourage me to keep dancing and try to stay in time with the music 😉

However, I have never really received another award or trophy, even winning dance competitions that has meant more since that day. Tanya was a warm, loving and inspiring studio owner and teacher. Her love for dance and her students was hard to match especially after moving suburbs a few times and changing dance schools throughout my school days. She didn’t do competitions or at least not during my time there. Her whole family was involved in the studio, her parents and husband. I remember her dad singing our tap song on stage with us and her gorgeous mum who sat in the audience and selected the “brightest performer” award that was presented at the end of the concert with the biggest teddy I had ever seen. It was a studio filled with love, admiration and genuine care for each student.

I base a lot of Reflections Academy of Dance’s values and ethics on my history of dancing with Tanya but also the other studios I attended. Dance was always a passion for me, but I did take time off as a pre-teen to attempt another sport. Mum was never a “dance mum” or forced me in any way, so I tried netball for about 4 weeks but clearly was not sporty in that sense. Due to moving around for work, I got to experience different studios who all had amazingly different programs. I went to non-competition studios, examination focused studios, ballet focused studios, mixed studios, recreational you name it! Looking back, it definitely gave me a good indication of what kind of studio I wanted to run one day.

Opening a dance studio was a dream of mine since being a little girl. However, I did consider other careers once I started working in retail as a teen and loving the idea of working and making my own money! Why would I give that up and work even harder?? But eventually the time came, and I knew I needed to try so I didn’t regret it later in life. With the support of my parents, we took over the lease of a factory in Cranbourne and the rest is history!

The past 5 years have challenged me in ways I couldn’t ever imagine, and it is only now that I feel somewhat in control and confident in this new role. They say the first 5 years in business is hard regardless, but our studio grew 100 new students per year and we needed to move the needle in systems and planning EVERY SINGLE YEAR!!

For me personally, the biggest learning curve was to have the upmost faith in our values and my vision for the studio. It is not exactly easy being the baby studio that is new, growing and evolving! Especially in today’s society where things are NOW NOW NOW and everybody wants to have their input!! There are enough studios in the area however that parents are spoilt for choice. It is important to know what your studio stands for and if that is what you are seeking for your child. For a while there, I was trying to be everything to everyone! That clearly didn’t work, and I found myself struggling to remember why I ever wanted to do this in the first place! I joined a group of incredible mentors, like-minded studio owners and women from all over Australia and the US who not only inspire me but gave me back my WHY! Studio ownership is not all fairies, skipping and playing with kids all day as some might assume. It can be quite lonely and managing a team of artistic teachers, children aged 2 – 17 years, customers (which is generally 2 people per child) and then your own workload is nothing short of crazy!

Sitting here today though, I can clearly see the journey and what it was meant to teach me all along. I recharged the batteries and found new ways, educated myself more and am now incredibly confident in our values. My whole mission is to inspire the next generation of leaders and give them the tools to take on the world confidently in whatever role it is! We don’t want to be everything to everyone because people now come to our studio BECAUSE of what we stand for. I love getting up for work everyday and it is my mission to continue to grow this incredible academy!

Our values at RAD are Positivity, Family/Community, Confidence, Growth and Excellence. Throughout a dancer’s journey in our studio they will witness and experience all 5 values and leave feeling inspired to reach their full potential in anything they desire. Whether you are just at the start of the values journey or closing in on the end, this is exactly what I hope you can take away from the experience as it is much more than just a dance class.

I can’t wait to keep working on bringing this experience to your children and look forward to expanding their journey whole-heartedly in future. A special thank you to everyone who has inspired me across this platform, I feel the best is yet to come and I can’t thank you enough!

Looking forward to our next blog with lots of helpful tips and hints!

All my best,

Kiandra x