Meet Safiyyah Rasool, the owner, instructor, and entrepreneur who turned her love of hip hop dance into a business right here in Louisville, Kentucky. I have had the privilege of knowing Safiyyah over the years before she began her business venture in 2012. We met during an ArtsReach opportunity that I was fortunate to be involved with while working at the Louisville Free Public Library. Each week that we met, we were introduced to local artists who were pursuing their fields in Louisville. She came to our meeting one week in 2008 and taught us a hip hop dance. I loved the routine and the way that Safiyyah helped me, and others like me in the room, break out of our shells and be ourselves. She is still doing that to this day.
After our first introductions, Safiyyah was placed on our performing artist list for the Library. I booked her every year for a kid’s and teen’s dance class throughout the summers at Jeffersontown Library. I was always impressed by her talents and abilities, but also more impressed with her rapport with young people. I have a passion for our youth, and I love it when I see teens and other young adults really engaging in something. What I witnessed with Safiyyah was a connection she could make with young people, a drive to help them be better people, and a commitment to serving youth and helping them achieve personal goals, all through dance.
Most recently, I reached out to Safiyyah again in a more personal manner, as my daughter’s Girl Scout troop had a badge they could earn about dancing and small business. It was so gratifying to talk with Safiyyah again, because I had put my career with the library on hold to stay home with our youngest and I had not talked with Safiyyah in quite a while. I was actually out in the community one evening and saw a postcard highlighting Safiyyah Dance studio’s grand opening that was going to occur in October 2012. I found Safiyyah on Facebook and we immediately reunited our acquaintances! She was immediately perceptive to letting our Girl Scout troop come into the studio and take a dance lesson and chat with her about her business and about the positives and challenges of entrepreneurship. The girls in the troop gained a lot of exposure to small business and learned a great lesson in being a small businesswoman owner! And the joy they got out of choreographing their own dance routine and performing it for us moms was a sheer delight. That’s just what Safiyyah does so well: gives people of all ages a chance to find their inner selves and find the dance inside of you. I chatted with her recently through an email conversation about her past experience and what led her to opening her studio, Safiyyah Dance.
When did you start your career in teaching dance?
“I started my career in teaching dance around 2005. I was a dancer, but I was asked to teach a group of neglected abused children at a facility in Atlanta, GA where I was living at the time. I had not created a dance routine since I was a little kid being goofy making up dances! I was nervous, but it was an enjoyable experience!”
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
“My dad inspired me to become a business woman. My dad is a business owner himself. He motivated me as a young child to be my own boss! I worked alongside with him at his business at a very young age. I was always impressed with my father’s confidence. He surely passed down his entrepreneurship ways to me!”
I remember when you taught classes on the side and at the libraries, etc. What has changed for you now that you have a studio?
“I still continue to involve myself highly with community work. I’m just a little busier now, but I enjoy it. I really love working in the community. It allows me to reach out to those that may not be as fortunate to train at dance studios.”
How well has your studio been received since you opened?
“The studio has been open for 3 months now, and I’m very thankful for the students we have. I know it will take time to keep getting the word out about our Hip Hop Dance Company. The students are enjoying the environment that we have at our studio. We have a very family oriented environment! We welcome all!”
Are your classes for a certain age group or dance level, and what types of dance do you focus on?
“I teach ages 3 and up. I nearly teach all ages. I’ve even had a 70 year old lady that would take private lessons from me! That was really neat and a fun experience! Age should not be a factor when dancing! I specifically focus on Hip Hop dance and its technique! This dance style can be misunderstood if you’re not properly trained. I do incorporate other styles of dance such as ballet and jazz into my Hip Hop. It is important to incorporate other styles so the dancer can be a strong versatile Hip hop dancer!”
What sorts of people come to you to learn dance?
“There are all types of people! We have dancers that want to learn how to become professional dancers. We have our shy dancers that want to become confident. We have adult dancers that want to learn how to dance in the club. We have people that want to stay fit. We have people that want to learn how to dance on the beat. We have parents that want to involve their kids in something positive and active. We have our dancers that just want to dance because it makes them feel good! We have so many different types of dancers that flock our studio!”
Do you have your own groups who dance for your studio?
“Yes we do! We have regular students that are enrolled in our dance program. All of the regular students enrolled in our showcase program will either perform throughout the year, and will also perform at the program ending Showcase. We have a specific group called Performance Group and they are the company youth dancers. This group consists of 15 individuals that represent Safiyyah Dance Company youth dancers. This group is challenged with hard intricate choreography! You must audition to be a part of our Performance Group.”
What do you love most about teaching dance?
“I love the energy from the students! I love seeing the art in my head come to life in people! That is a great feeling that is unexplainable! I really enjoy seeing the confidence come to life in individuals as well. To see a dancer go from insecure to so secure is amazing to me! This is why I love teaching dance!”
What do you want people in Louisville to remember most about your new dance studio?
“We want them to always know that Safiyyah Dance Company is an open arms dance studio. Whether you have had previous dance training or no dance training at all, our company will work hard to give you the proper training you need to become an excellent professional Hip Hop Dancer!”
Read more of Safiyyah’s personal story here.
Safiyyah Dance offers a variety of classes from beginners to advanced levels. Check it out by clicking here, emailing the studio at [email protected] , call (502) 807-2808, or find her on Facebook. The studio is located in the Lyndon area at 8007 Vine Crest Avenue, Suite 2, Louisville, KY, 40222.
Photos Courtesy of Safiyyah Rasool