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.

Jenaé Elizabeth, Founder, Dance Dynamix, Landover, Maryland

Photo courtesy of Elizabeth

"The greatest adversity with our industry is that dancers of color are only good at hip hop. In the summer of 2016, I was at a conference of studio owners, and of the 500 attendees, I was one of three studios of color. The discrimination and stereotypes I experienced while networking and collaborating with other attendees ranged from 'I don't know if this business strategy will work for your population' to 'You may have to teach your kids differently.' As a business owner, I've had to overcome immense racism and sexism due to businessmen not wanting to extend commercial rental contracts and leases for studio space."

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