Geo Hubela’s Advice for Going From Professional Dancer to Studio Owner Without Skipping a Beat

A popular and highly sought-after dancer and choreographer, Geo Hubela has worked with stars and productions all over the world from French pop star "Lorie" to the MTV show BeComing. Geo isn't just a choreography sensation. He has also danced on film, onstage, and on TV. He was worked with everyone from *NSYNC to JLo. On top of his incredible professional career, Geo owns a dance studio called Icon Dance Complex.

Owning and running a successful dance studio is not an easy task. Showstopper got together with Geo for his advice on going from a professional dancer to studio owner.


Think Ahead
When Geo decided that he wanted to open a studio, he knew that it was going to take time to establish a system that worked for him and grow the studio into a place that his students would love to be. Because of this, he recommends planning to take time off from your professional career. "I had to be willing to make sacrifices in my professional career to focus on the business, so I took a good two years off to take the time necessary to open the studio," he says. Unfortunately, your studio isn't going to setup itself and your students are going to want to see and learn from you, so you have to take time to get to know them. If you want to become a studio owner, you have to make the time to take on that role. Don't think this means that you have to cut yourself off from your career, though! It just means that you have to be willing to know when the business you are creating will come first.

Have a Good Support System
One of the things Geo is most grateful for is his support system, his family, and his dance family. They all come together to make the studio what it is. A good support system is key to developing a studio that will create an inviting and encouraging environment for its students and that will allow you to leave for career opportunities you may have in the future. For Geo, this means hiring people he can trust and depend on. When he is home, he teaches at his studio, but if he has to leave to work as a professional choreographer and dancer, he doesn't want his students to feel lost without him. Because of this, all of his teachers are people his students know and love to learn from. "You have to have a support system of really good people that you trust, for sure. You are dealing with tremendous responsibility, and if you don't choose the right people and the right support system, your investment can go out the door."

Focus on Branding
As a professional dancer, you have to spend a lot of your time developing what potential employers think of you. This means developing a work ethic, collecting headshots, and creating a style to make you stand out from the crowd. Opening a dance studio works the same way. It is important to develop a brand that will attract students because people know what you have to offer. Being a professional dancer and choreographer sets Geo apart. Because he knows how the dance industry works, he can not only teach his students to be talented performers and hip hop dancers, he can also show them how to develop their own dance careers.

For Geo, developing a brand means creating a name that people will recognize and remember. Geo has a wall in his studio that features pictures of him and the people he has worked with. For students and parents looking at it, the wall brings to life Geo's long list of dance and choreography credits. When people can see and appreciate what you do, they will want to work with you. It is easy to tell people that you are talented, but showing them that you are talented and helping them to develop their own talents will give them a reason to appreciate what you can do and to look up to you as a teacher.

Know What You Do Best
Geo's strengths lie in hip hop. Because of this, he knew that starting a successful studio would rely on teaching what he knows best. Despite his talents, a ballet studio or a tap studio would not have blossomed in the same way that Icon has. If you are considering opening a studio, focus on your own strengths. If you know your own strengths, it will only make helping your students highlight their own strengths easier. The things you do best set you apart. They will help you build your brand, enhance your abilities as a teacher, and create an environment that will allow you to give your students everything you have to offer. Knowing what you do best also require you to assess your weaknesses. It's ok if you can't fill the shoes of every role in your studio. You don't have to! Your support system should fill in any gaps and enhance what you can do.

Come dance with Geo at one of Showstopper's 2018-19 Dance Conventions. Register today for a weekend of non stop dance!

By Veronica Good
Writer, Showstopper VIP

Geo Hubela is a choreographer, dancer, teacher, and producer. He is owner of Icon Dance Complex in New Jersey. Geo is an internationally known choreographer who choreographed national commercials for Jet Blue, Best Buy, Campbell's Soup campaign, and much more. As a performer, Geo has danced with stars such as Jennifer Lopez, Will Smith, P!NK, Britney Spears, 'NSYNC, Jessica Simpson, Selena Gomez, and Michael Jackson, to name a few. He has danced on MTV's America's Best Dance Crew and America's Got Talent. Geo's ICONic Dancers perform professionally at the Apollo Theater, Madison Square Garden and on Nickelodeon and MTV.

The Conversation
Dance Teachers Trending
Photo courtesy of Hightower

The beloved "So You Think You Can Dance" alum and former Emmy-nominated "Dancing with the Stars" pro Chelsie Hightower discovered her passion for ballroom at a young age. She showed a natural ability for the Latin style, but she mastered the necessary versatility by studying jazz, ballet and other forms of dance. "Every style of dance builds on each other," she says, "and the more music you're exposed to, the more your rhythm and coordination is built."

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Harlequin Floors
Burklyn Ballet, Courtesy Harlequin

Whether you're putting on a pair of pointe shoes, buckling your ballroom stilettos or lacing up your favorite high tops, the floor you're on can make or break your dancing. But with issues like sticking or slipping and a variety of frictions suitable to different dance steps and styles, it can be confusing to know which floor will work best for you.

No matter what your needs are, Harlequin Floors has your back, or rather, your feet. With 11 different marley vinyl floors available in a range of colors, Harlequin has options for every setting and dance style. We rounded up six of their most popular and versatile floors:

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Health
Thinkstock

Q: I have a very flexible spine and torso. My teachers tell me to use this flexibility during cambrés and port de bras, but when I do, I feel pain—mostly in my lower back. What should I change so I don't end up with back problems?

A: It can be challenging to support flexibility in general. When you're bending backward, the strength of your abdominals should determine how much you can bend while keeping stable. That's easy to do if you are bending back only a little, but when asked to go farther, dancers often let go of their abdominal support, shift their pelvis forward and sink into their lower backs. Compression occurs at this point, and causes pain.

There are many good abdominal exercises that can help this, particularly activating the abs when doing backward movement. Stand in first position and imagine lacing your abdominals together and keep an invisible string drawing your belly button on a diagonal back and up toward your spine. Begin slowly bending backward and maintain a neutral pelvis. You won't need to bend back very far to feel those abdominal muscles working. Notice if you release the abdominal engagement how your weight drops into your lower back. Try the same slow movement doing a cambré back with your arms. Don't worry if you can't use your full flexibility. That will come in time—habits don't change overnight.

Sponsored by Insure Fitness
AdobeStock, Courtesy Insure Fitness Group

As a teacher at a studio, you've more than likely developed long-lasting relationships with some of your students and parents. The idea that you could be sued by one of them might seem impossible to imagine, but Insure Fitness Group's Gianna Michalsen warns against relaxing into that mindset. "People say, 'Why do I need insurance? I've been working with these people for 10 years—we're friends,'" she says. "But no one ever takes into account how bad an injury can be. Despite how good your relationship is, people will sue you because of the toll an injury takes on their life."

You'll benefit most from an insurance policy that caters to the specifics of teaching dance at one or several studios. Here's what to look for:

Keep reading... Show less
Just for fun
Via Instagram

Happy Father's Day to all of the dance dads in the world! Whether you're professional dancers, dance teachers, dance directors or simply just dance supporters, you are a key ingredient to what makes the dance world such a happy, thriving place, and we love you!

To celebrate, here are our four favorite Instagram dance dads. Prepare to say "Awwwwwwwweeeeeee!!!!!!"

You're welcome!

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Success with Just for Kix
Bill Johnson, Courtesy Just for Kix

Running a dance studio is a feat in itself. But adding a competition team into the mix brings a whole new set of challenges. Not only are you focusing on giving your dancers the best training possible, but you're navigating the fast-paced competition and convention circuit. Winning is one goal, but you also want to create an environment that's fun, educational and inspiring for young artists. We asked Cindy Clough, executive director of Just For Kix and a studio owner with over 40 years of experience, for her advice on building a healthy dance team culture:

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Owners
Getty Images

If you're a studio owner, the thought of raising your rates most likely makes you cringe. Despite ever-increasing overhead expenses you can't avoid—rent, salaries, insurance—you're probably wary of alienating your customers, losing students or inviting confrontation if you increase the price of your tuition or registration and recital fees. DT spoke with three veteran studio owners who suggest it's time to get past that. Here's how to give your business the revenue boost it needs and the value justification it (and you) deserve.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by World Class Vacations
David Galindo Photography

New York City is a dream destination for many dancers. However aspiring Broadway stars don't have to wait until they're pros to experience all the city has to offer. With Dance the World Broadway, students can get a taste of the Big Apple—plus hone their dance skills and make lasting memories.

Here's why Dance the World Broadway is the best way for students to experience NYC:

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teachers Trending
Margie Gillis (left); photo by Kyle Froman

Margie Gillis dances the human experience. Undulating naked in a field of billowing grass in Lessons from Nature 4, or whirling in a sweep of lilac fabric in her signature work Slipstream, her movement is free of flashy technique and tricks, but driven and defined by emotion. "There's a central philosophy in my work about what the experience of being human is," says Gillis, whose movement style is an alchemy of Isadora Duncan's uninhibited self-expression and Paul Taylor's musicality, blended with elements of dance theater into something utterly unique and immediately accessible. "I want an authenticity," she says. "I want to touch my audiences profoundly and deeply."

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Getty Images

Teaching arabesque can be a challenge for educators and students alike. Differences in body types, flexibility and strength can leave dancers feeling dejected about the possibility of improving this essential position.

To help each of us in our quest for establishing beautiful arabesques in our students without bringing them to tears, we caught up with University of Utah ballet teacher Jennie Creer-King. After her professional career dancing with Ballet West and Oregon Ballet Theater and her years of teaching at the studio and college levels, she's become a bit of an arabesque expert.

Here she shares five important tips for increasing the height of your students' arabesques.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Photo by Jennifer Kleinman, courtesy of Danell Hathaway

It's high school dance concert season, which means a lot of you K–12 teachers are likely feeling a bit overwhelmed. The long nights of editing music, rounding up costumes and printing programs are upon you, and we salute you. You do great work, and if you just hang on a little while longer, you'll be able to bathe in the applause that comes after the final Saturday night curtain.

To give you a bit of inspiration for your upcoming performances, we talked with Olympus High School dance teacher Danell Hathaway, who just wrapped her school's latest dance company concert. The Salt Lake City–based K–12 teacher shares her six pieces of advice for knocking your show out of the park.

Keep reading... Show less
Getty Images

Q: I'm looking to create some summer rituals and traditions at my studio. What are some of the things you do?

A: Creating fun and engaging moments for your students, staff and families can have a positive impact on your studio culture. Whether it's a big event or a small gesture, we've found that traditions build connection, boost morale and create strong bonds. I reached out to a variety of studio owners to gather some ideas for you to try this summer. Here's what they had to say.

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox