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5 Thriving Dance Directors Share the Challenges of Being a Black Business Owner

Jenaé Elizabeth, founder of Dance Dynamix, with students. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth

No doubt turning the dream of owning a dance company into a fully operational business is a tough feat. From finding studio space, marketing, securing funding and more, it can all be very daunting. The challenge of taking a dance-related business to new heights can be even greater if you are a person of color. However, it's not impossible. According to the 2012 census, there are 27.6 million businesses in the United States, and only 2.6 million are black-owned. In honor of Black History Month, DT spoke with several black-owned dance studios and companies and asked them to reflect on the significance race has had on their efforts to run the dance company of their dreams.


Tiffany Rea-Fisher, Artistic Director, Elisa Monte Dance, Harlem, New York

Photo courtesy of Rea-Fisher

"I love being a black woman, but being a double minority in a position of power comes with its problems. People can be dismissive and downright cruel. They tend to assume I am the secretary or assistant to those I am with. I feel no shame letting those people know who I am and what my title is. I take my responsibility as a role model for the next generation of dancemakers seriously, so I cannot let others dull my shine. There are lots of assumptions about black-run companies, and I intentionally live in an unapologetic uncategorizable space. People are constantly trying to put my work in boxes and label it as not black enough. However, I believe that those who came before me marched so that I could be a fully realized human being, and not have to limit myself to others' definitions of who I am or what I can be or do."

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