There’s something about dance that makes Anchal Dahiya’s heart soar.
Through the years, the Western student has learned Bollywood, classical Indian and bhangra dancing, and has participated in cultural festivals, high schools and talent shows across the London, Ont., region.
She has friends who dance salsa, K-pop, tango.
Until now, they’ve never had a studio where they could practise their skills, and teach and share them with others.
Now there’s brdrless Dance, a studio dedicated to bringing dance styles from everywhere to everyone.
“In the back of my mind, I’ve always wanted to do something entrepreneurial,” said Dahiya, a full-time student in the Ivey Business School’s HBA program.
She began planning for the business more than a year ago and launched it in August, 2021, at rented space at the O’Neill Academy of Dance on Dearness Drive in south London.
Starting a business, especially during a pandemic, wasn’t easy.
“There were moments when I wasn’t sure I could do it and there’s a lot about operating a business that you don’t realize before you go into it,” she said. “But even when things were going wrong, it just made me want to try harder.”
More than a business to her, this is a movement – one that embraces what is unique in every culture.
Pick your dance
The brdrless studio has become a one-stop dance shop, with six or more drop-in classes per weekend and 10 instructors who specialize in South Asian, Latin, K-pop, Afrobeat/hiphop, Chinese folk, and jazz/funk dancing.
Students pay by registering for a class or classes and not through membership. Classes are casual, with participants usually in t-shirts and tights or shorts – or, in the hip-hop classes, with street clothes. Sometimes, groups of participants will book a time as a team-building exercise, or will sample a different dance style each week.
“It’s about being able to preserve and share culture and be a community. I want people to have a community that they didn’t know they wanted or needed. I’ve always thought there’s a lot more power in diversity than people think.”
Business of dance
In addition to her classes at Western, Dahiya spends about four hours a night working on the business, and oversees and/or teaches weekend dance classes.
There’s also instructor-training, human resources/payroll and marketing and strategy work. She credits fellow students/staffers Joylynn Wang and Riya Balsara with helping keep the studio and business heading in the right direction.
And she expressed gratitude to her parents, her father Sanjay Dahiya and mother Anjana Dahiya, for encouraging the venture from the beginning.
“You can’t do these things alone. It’s so incredible to see everyone working towards a common goal,” she said.
Working towards a business degree has helped her figure out a lot of the logistical details of her venture, Dahiya said.
And as brderless evolves, she hopes to apply for an entrepreneur/mentorship program offered to students through Western’s Morrissette Institute for Entrepreneurship.
Western is celebrating Global Entrepreneurship Week November 8 to 12 with a series of virtual and in-person events hosted by the Morrissette Institute for Entrepreneurship. Make connections, learn more about resources and be inspired by entrepreneurs by visiting Beyond the Start: Global Entrepreneurship Week at Western