Introducing Emanuela and her amazing dance school Neon Performing Arts

I’ve been a professional dancer for over 20 years. I’m Italian, so I studied dance in Italy where I started to perform professionally from when I was about 16 years old. In Italy I performed with big companies and TV shows, and then I moved to Paris because I had a scholarship for a big dance studio and after that I started to work in comedy musicals, and assisting the big French teachers and choreographers. After that, I started to work in Euro Disney in the lion king. First as dance captain and then after as a choreographer where I met my boyfriend who was a signer and then started to see a bit around, and I wanted a change so I came over to London and I was like oh this place! It’s a bit old, needs a bit of renovation of performing arts…

I moved here and I started to teach professionally, doing a professional class, however it was really frustrating because the dancers were not so versatile. The dancers were really good maybe in a single style but versatile, they were not very good at that, or in fusion, so this innovative stuff that was a bit around. And then that’s why I say ok I’m just going to start from the bottom. Open my school for children. So I decided to open a performing arts school for children aged 4-18. I opened the school in September 2013 and we started with about 5 students doing 2 classes a week – we are now running 60 classes per week, we have about 85 students and we are getting ready for our show.

Why I came to Hatch? I knew that there was not the right structure about staff, admin, anything in place, so really this course helped me to learn my ABC’s in terms of business really. You know when you think you need some kind of stuff but actually you realise that your priority, the urgency is actually other things and I think that I was thinking big and I wanted to act big when I really realised that I have to think big but act small, one step at a time and be confident. What I really learnt is doing something, testing ok it’s good, people responded keep it moving, move it on, don’t invest too much money in something that you don’t have. This really, really helped me.

Where we are now – a dream come true. Thanks to Hatch. I send and I keep sending new people. I honestly really think to do everything. To do Hatch you need to be engaged, you need to be humble, to say yes I need to learn and not think I already know all this stuff because its really like 1+1 = 2 and like to understand really.

What we want to achieve? Basically it’s increasing, increasing, increasing and producing more shows.

What inspired you to start Neon Performing Arts

Ok there are 2 key moments, one when I was really young, that I thought that I was going to be a ballet dancer, but an apple cannot be a pear. I was like, 16 and they say no. You are an amazing contemporary dancer and maybe everything felt in my head that you are only a dancer or an artist if you do ballet or do this or do that, but there are different way’s to be called an artist, different styles of dance and I think it’s really important that everybody finds there own one rather than just following the sheep. That’s why I was like, if I have something I will open up a professional school in the way that they can do everything.

And the second thing as I say is when I moved here that I see the level was not that good and that the industry needed a revolution and that happened 2 years ago in my head but that answer to that problem happened maybe one month ago when a big chair of the UK dance said that UK dancer is not the level at all of the rest of EU and USA. they are not versatile and only 5 dancers out of 40 join the big companies.

What are some of the struggles you’ve run into along the way?

The management. It was really frustrating for me. I’m a dreamer, and management you have to be somebody really firm, really that was a bit really hard. But as a management, I choose to give responsibility to other people for some parts of the job that was really stressing me out so now I just feel ok!

What’s the best thing about running your own business?

The achievement of my children! I will never retire. It’s just so good to see them, the progress that they make and see the parents and see them get really engaged with their dream, their life, there dance. It’s always this moment where they click and I’m always there waiting for the moment and one day you don’t even maybe they start the class like  then a moment later it clicks and they’re happy because that is what they wanted to do. And there are people that just come to see our show and they were like are they the same children?

If you could have any enterprise related superpower, what would it be?

No sleeping and a lot of time! I don’t need to sleep. I can keep going. I love my work, I really love it, but sometimes I’m like I need to sleep I need to rest so maybe I’d like more time but it will happen! But at the moment it’s just happened so quick that you just have to react to it because sometimes you cannot say no to some big opportunity right?

Where do you see your business in 5 years time?

In 5 years time I think expanding our school. We will have our first adult company touring, and we will have already in place the youth company. I think this is a really big work and obviously start to have our own space.

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