Welcome to the August 2019 edition of the Career Inspo Blog!
This is a monthly interview with someone who has followed their passion, dreamed big and now has a successful and exciting career. Whether you are searching for your passion or looking for guidance and insight from those in your chosen industry, the Career Inspo blog will have something for everyone. After the success of the 2018 blog, I am so excited to be continuing the interviews through 2019 and I am sure this year’s line up will provide plenty of motivation and inspiration!
This month I’m so happy to share my interview with Jo Baiao and Tom Wohlfahrt. Jo and Tom run Jo’s Dance Emporium and have been my Ballroom and Latin dance teachers for the past year. They are both incredibly talented professional dancers and are competing together at The World and European same sex dancing championships, with the aim to spread the love of dance and show that the dance community is for everyone.
Sarah Ellis: Thank you so much for being interviewed for the Career Inspo Blog! Please provide a summary of your business and what you do:
J & T: Jo’s Dance Emporium is a warm and welcoming environment where dancers of all levels will feel comfortable. It was created to deliver the best experiences in dance.
Jo’s Dance Emporium is owned and operated by Jo, National Champion in both Ballroom & Latin and a successful dance teacher.
In addition to teach basic dance technique and step patterns, we teach more advanced skills in lead/follow, partnering, body rhythm, dynamics, flexibility, and performance, helping any dancer show off their individual personality and style. We adapt our teaching styles to meet each student’s needs and enjoy seeing our students grow and improve. That’s one of the reasons Jo decided to create Jo’s Dance Emporium; in order to give the best to others.
J & T: We have been dancing since we were young and through our success in competitions and events, we realised how much happiness dance is bringing to people. Also, dance is a useful tool on order to improve essential life skills such as self-awareness, self confidence and social skills. We personally experienced a huge development in ourselves through movement to music.
SE: What was your route into this career, and what training did you do?
J & T: Jo trained professionally in Latin and Ballroom in Portugal from a very young age and continued by attending World Class Competitions as well as teaching early to develop these skills.
I (Tom) also trained professionally in Latin and Ballroom, starting when I was just 5 years old, competing internationally. Later, I received a degree in Ballet, Contemporary Dance and Choreography to widen my skills.
We both knew early on that teaching is a very satisfying profession to us.
SE: What makes you jump out of bed in the morning to come to work? What are your favourite things about what you do?
J & T: We always remind each other why we started dancing and why we continued for so long. Dance is healthy, social and fun. We earn respect by students and colleagues and we feel appreciated by them.
Furthermore, the reaction of the audience when our students or we perform, gives us a lot of energy. At the end of the day, all we would like to achieve is spreading the love of dancing (with whoever you would like to dance with).
SE: What have been your biggest challenges and learning curves? And what reignites your passion on the tough days?
J & T: Jo is a very consistent artist; he always pushes for the highest achievements and I adore that. He is a very strong person, who doesn’t focus on negative events.
However, there are moments when people do not appreciate the hard work behind dance and do not see us as professionals or athletes and that gets me mostly. As dancers and performers especially, we still need to prove our value in many situations. Latin and Ballroom is a very intense, but beautiful dance form. We trained over 20 years to become who we are today, and we are incredibly proud. At the same time, we are still educating ourselves in other styles and following trends to understand the audience. What I am trying to express is, that I would like dance to be more appreciated.
Secondly, there is the Equality dancing. Social media can be a very useful tool, but also a grudge. We are regularly posting content about the loving dance partnership that we have, to inspire others and share the idea of freedom and acceptance, but I guess there will always be people who disagree.
SE: What are the key moments/most memorable experiences in your career so far?
J & T: Founding Jo’s Dance Emporium has been an eye opener for us. Our dreams are getting serious and it motivates us on a daily basis. Earning the bronze medal at the World Championships in Paris last year and winning every competition after that made us realise what kind of impact we could have in the media and community.
There are a lot of key moments still happening this and next year, so stay tuned!
SE: What key strengths do you have that make you great at what you do?
J & T: We both are incredibly creative and intuitive. What makes us special is the combination of our very different personalities and skills. Jo is incredibly talented in business matters, very social and diplomatic and is dedicated to working with students towards their exams as well as performing with them.
I, Tom, work a lot with the queer, dance and artistic community, so I can collect data about their needs and interests. I consider myself the creative, revolutionary half of the business. I am very interested in pushing boundaries, approach dance unconventionally and make it more accessible to the general public.
SE: Do you have a role model or mentor? If so, what have you learnt from them that has helped you in your business/overall career?
J & T: Not really. We are inspired by other professionals, but not from our industry. We want to make a difference and stand out; therefore, we do not compare ourselves to competitors. Jo is getting mentored in regular workshops about business and the industry, I get inspired by artists I work with, especially in the visual arts.
J & T: Surround yourself with passionate and reliable professionals. It will be hard at the beginning, but if your heart is in it, you will succeed!
SE: What are the top 3 things to consider when choosing and pursuing a meaningful and exciting career?
J & T: Passion, Commitment and Patience.