Learn to Connect and Grow at GoDance
Learning to dance is a challenge, especially for beginners, and a lot of the time I see people get frustrated when they’re not able to be good at it right away. There’s some vulnerability in being in a studio as a beginner, and some people struggle to ever get past that point. I think that’s why a lot of people stall out at that first stage. There’s that constant fear of having other people see you being ‘not good’ at something. I also think that’s why sometimes we get people who come out for one class, and really enjoy it, but they never come back.
It can be a real personal challenge for some people, taking on a physically-demanding new area of learning like dance. And it can take a good amount of time to improve.
One of my favorite things here at GoDance Studio is when someone comes back and I have another chance to get them back to that Point A, that first step, and I’m able to help them accept the challenge and rise to it. When someone commits to being a beginner, and accepts the fact that there’s a learning curve and it’s going to take some time and effort—that’s a great feeling. Watching people work through that vulnerability is huge, and really rewarding for me. And then, when they get to work at it and then go on to succeed and get so much better at it—and in some cases, they get really good at it—that produces a very specific type of joy for me.
GoDance Studio is a passion project. We’ve been here in this space for over almost 5 years. West Coast Swing is our main specialty, this is a style with a fairly large learning curve. It can be harder for people to latch onto because it’s a style that’s all about dancing with and connecting with a partner. We also offer many types of Ballroom Dance; Cha Cha, Rumba, East Coast Waltz, Foxtrot and the American Tango. We also do some Salsa and Bachata, but West Coast Swing is really our main specialty. We have folks who drive in from Indianapolis and Grand Rapids just for our Westie events.
Photography provided by GoDance Studio
I grew up around the New Paris and Syracuse area and so we’d come to Goshen for church and to go shopping and things like that. I went to Goshen College and I graduated with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, but I’ve never had a job that has anything to do with that major. I grew up Mennonite, and the way that I grew up partner dancing is not something that was seen as a positive. We’re one of the only local places to focus on partner dancing; I wanted a place where people could experience what I did when I fell in love with Lindy Swing in Oregon around 2001.
I didn’t do dance classes as a kid, but I always loved dancing. Around the time I turned 30 I made a list of 30 things that I wanted to do, and one of the items on that list was to start taking dance classes. About a year later I started lessons in Mishawaka, and I just really loved it. I hit it hard. I fell in love with dance all over again, and the community aspect of it was just so amazing. The social and community aspect of all this is a big part of it. It’s pretty nice to look back now, as an instructor, and see how far I’ve come.
I split a lot of my time between here and Giving Tree Massage, which I opened in 2010 after I got my certification as a massage therapist. Sometimes it’s a challenge operating a dance studio, especially in Goshen, where, for a small town there always seems to be so much to do and so much going on. Sometimes it can be stressful and sometimes we see lower numbers at events than we’d like. Also, there are always a lot of unknowns. Instructors have come and gone over the years, and you never really know how long people are going to keep coming back for lessons.
But the moments that matter most are when I have a class or an event in here and I can just see on their faces that people are connecting, growing, learning, and having a lot of fun. Those are some of the best times, and they make all of this worthwhile.
Written by Jake Sandock
Original publish date May 2023