There’s no shortage of dance studios to pick from in our area if you’re looking for lessons, and most of them offer the usual fare: ballet, tap, jazz, and a recital at the end of the year. But Amanda Gilmore wanted to offer something more to her students. She took over as Steps of Faith Performing Arts Center owner and director in 2010. “I had enjoyed dancing and teaching dance for many years, but I always wanted to become a studio owner. I wanted to provide a studio for students to learn high quality dance in a modest, encouraging, professional and Christ-centered environment.”
As a dancer herself since the age of five, Amanda knew what parents of dance students wanted: a fun atmosphere, good teachers, modest costumes, and uplifting music. She combined all those things into her business. They also wanted a variety of classes and didn’t want to drive very far. “We have two great locations. Our main campus is in Meridianville, and our second location is in the Harvest/Madison area. We offer classes to kids as young as 3 years old all the way up to early twenties! Our services include classes in ballet, pointe ballet, tap, hip hop, modern/contemporary, flexibility/strength and jazz. We also have adult fitness classes such as Zumba.”
The studio might be faith-based, but liturgical dancing is NOT in their lineup. Steps of Faith Performing Arts Center is a Dance Masters of America certified studio and their older Company Dancers perform and compete across the country at both secular and faith-based competitions. SOFPAC is also the only dance studio to locally offer all-boy tap/hip-hop combo classes, as well as authentic hip-hop style dancing, as demonstrated by one of the their staff instructors, Lawrence Webb.
Amanda sat down with us and answered a few questions about her experience as a local small business owner.
What is your favorite thing about owning your business? What have been your hardest challenges?
I love leadership! Having the opportunity to organize and lead a group of such talented staff is a dream come true. I’m also a little weird because I love paperwork – organizing meetings, scheduling events, creating documents/flyers… I live for that! When it comes to teaching dance, my favorite thing is getting to see a student have that “Aha!” moment when they finally master a skill they’ve been laboring over and working on. The look of satisfaction and joy on their faces is really the reason why I do what I do.
What sets your business apart from others dance studios
Steps of Faith PAC has highly trained instructors with teaching styles that are extremely encouraging and uplifting. The dance training we provide is of high quality, and we have students who receive college scholarships and go on to have successful careers in dance after training with us. We are also very wholesome and modest with our dress code (including teachers), costuming, and dance choreography. Our students are learning how to be better people AND fantastic dancers. I have a background in medical office management, so the studio is highly organized and efficient. I believe the combination of all of these things is what sets us apart. There are studios that are great in one or two of these areas, but Steps of Faith encompasses all of these.
What is your entrepreneurial advice to other small business owners?
I love the book entitled How to Run Your Business by the Book by Dave Anderson. When it comes to the structure of your business, don’t try and reinvent the wheel! I’m constantly researching other successful business (not just dance studios) and learning from their successes and mistakes. Never stop spending time doing market research!
You’ve had a busy year. What’s going on now at SOFPAC?
We’ve got some awesome summer dance camps, with the June camp hosted by special guest instructors, Ryan Warren and Aaron Chen from Dance Revolution. I’m also very excited that we’re performing in Panoply this year; it’s a great time for the community to check us out and see what we do.
My grandson LOVES the all boys hip-hop class. He performed for our family after just one class! We are so glad to have a studio that is Christian-based and offers classes for boys. – Barbara G.
Steps of Faith is giving away an entire summer camp session for a lucky RCM reader! Choose from Sleeping Beauty Ballerina Camp for the little ones or Summer Dance Camp Days for ages 7 and up.
Stephenie has worked with and around books and authors for over 12 years, both at retail booksellers and public libraries. She is a rare Huntsville native, mother of two high-energy boys, wife of one, and eerily addicted to community volunteering. When she's not being the Managing Editor for RCM she likes to stalk her favorite authors online, cook with way too much butter, and also manages to conduct freelance marketing and PR work.