The Border City – INDUSTRY Dance Co.

After working closely with Industry Dance Co. on our Fall 2019 issue, it was clear to us how talented and dedicated this group was. It was only fitting to include them in our first City Edition. With an arsenal of many different dancers, it is now easy for Canada’s most southern point to break a sweat with these talented teachers. From the outside looking in, the first thing to catch your attention would be the ages of the teachers who excel in their choreography. Ensuring that they are the next wave in the dance game Industry has already shown innovation in everything they have participated in. Live shows, music videos, clothing lines and even their own fashion show, these hungry individuals are already showing their teeth and dominating their lane.

To get a better picture we got to discuss what created Industry Dance Co. with the young entrepreneur, Brooke Gursoy. As the founder of this amazing dance studio, Brooke has really stood out as a leader and has always pushed past any limitations anyone could have set for her. Leaving Windsor to pursue dance, she earned her stripes and came back to this city to make her dreams a reality in running her own business. 

XMPL: At what age did you start dancing and can you walk us through the beginning phases of your career?

Brooke: I started taking dance classes when I was just 3 years old. I’ve loved dance for as long as I can remember. Growing up I was always dancing, whether it be in my room, the grocery store, the mall, no matter where I was I was dancing. My parents always tell me stories about how I would make up dances, jumping up on the table and dancing to pretty much any song that would be playing. I would even put on shows in my basement and set up a whole stage made out of furniture and everything! Dancing was always something I loved to do and that’s when my parents decided they needed to sign me up for classes. 

I started out like every kid. I took dance classes at my local community centre and absolutely loved it. I danced at different community centres until I was about 6 or 7 years old, which was when I had decided to move on to the “studio” experience. I signed up for my first class at a dance studio at age 7 or 8. My favourite style of dance has always been hip-hop. Even though I took ballet and tap classes growing up, hip-hop still remained my favourite. I took a few different classes, hip-hop being one of them, for about a year or so until I moved on to the competition team. When I was just 13 years old I was handed my own class to teach. Like I said earlier, when I was a kid I was always making up dances. Choreography was something that I really loved creating, so when I had the opportunity to teach a class of my own and create my own routines I leaped at the opportunity. At the age of 16, I was given a pre-competitive team where I had the opportunity to teach dancers at a higher level. 

I have always dreamed of being a dance teacher. It was something that I have always wanted to do. I wanted to be the person that motivates, uplifts, educates and pushes dancers to the best of their ability and to achieve their desired goals, not only as a dancer, but as a person too. 

When did you decide you wanted to open up your own dance studio and why did you choose this city?

I’ve wanted to open up my own dance studio for as long as I can remember. Dance was always something that I never saw myself giving up. It was something that I always wanted to keep in my life. I have always had a dream of opening my own place, but I wanted it to be something that was so far from the norm and from your stereotypical dance studio. This is when I had the idea for what is now, Industry Dance Co.  

I moved to Toronto for an internship during my final year of college in 2018 and I had the opportunity to take some classes at famous dance studios, such as Millennium Dance Complex and Underground Dance Centre. I absolutely loved the atmosphere and vibe of both of these studios. They both had such an urban, big city feel and the classes were so much fun. I loved how convenient everything was too. I could drop-in and take classes whenever I wanted. Having this freedom to take classes whenever I wanted and not be restricted to a certain amount of classes was something that I absolutely loved. It was so convenient for me and I thought it was such a great idea to have something like this in the city for those who want to take classes. 

Another thing that I loved about these studios was the variety of classes they had. Whether you were an industry professional looking to train, or if you were someone that was looking for a beginner dance class just to get your sweat on, there was something for you. This is when I had the idea of bringing something like this to Windsor. 

The Windsor-Essex County dance scene is primarily known for structured arts, such as contemporary and ballet. There are so many studios in the area that are known for their excellence in these structured arts, but something that has always been missing is the lack of street and commercial styled dance classes. This is when I came up with the idea for Industry. I wanted to provide Windsor with a studio that was like no other; a studio that you would see in a big city like New York, LA or Toronto. I wanted to bring that big city dance scene to Windsor where dancers of all ages and levels could come in and dance and just have fun. I feel like the seriousness and competitive side of dance often takes over and everyone forgets what dance is meant to be, which is fun. I wanted to provide a place where people of all ages and levels could come in and take classes as often or as little as they want. I wanted people to come in and dance for nothing but pure enjoyment, not because they had a 6, 8 or 12 week commitment. Whether they are a professional working dancer looking to train, or if they’re simply just someone who’s looking for a fun, new way to get fit, I wanted there to be something for everyone.  

Tell us about the name ‘INDUSTRY’. Why that name and what do you want it to represent over time?

I played around with a few name ideas but my vision was to be a leader in the industry and it just stuck! There are many dance professionals in the city that no longer take classes themselves and I feel that they just need somewhere to dance.  Traditional studios are more focused on younger students and the majority of adult classes are beginner.  I wanted to attract industry professionals to attend classes themselves and find the joy that dance can provide. So I guess the creation of the name was two fold.  

What I hope for the future is that Industry becomes the go-to studio for local artists, groups, and organizations when it comes to booking performances and shows.  My goal has been to provide a safe, judgment free environment for dancers of all ages and levels.  I hope that Industry becomes a space that builds confidence, positive body image, self love and acceptance for both males and females.  Industry will represent the pure joy of dance and self expression. I want to be the industry leader that has been my hopes and dreams.  

Which styles of dance would you say your studio excels in and what is unique about it?

I think the particular styles our studio excels in would be our street styled classes; Locking & Popping, Hip-Hop, Old School Hip-Hop, etc. Our number 1 classes would definitely have to be anything hip-hop. Industry’s hip-hop classes are like no other in the city. We offer classes that you wouldn’t normally find at your average dance studio. Yes, you can absolutely find hip-hop at every dance studio, but the style that we provide and teach to our clients just has something super unique and different about it. Our staff here at Industry is made up of dancers/choreographers from all over the city. We’re all still training ourselves and are constantly going outside of our comfort zones to learn different styles of not only hip-hop, but other arts as well.

We push ourselves to continue to grow our knowledge by staying current and trying unique styles that we wouldn’t normally feel the most comfortable learning. I would say this is definitely what makes our classes so unique. We are constantly going to lengths to learn and master new styles such as tutting, jukin’, breaking, krumping and animation to bring it back to the studio and educate the next generation of dancers. Hip-Hop is such a unique style. It’s not about how high you kick, how many turns you can do, or how flawless your technique is. It’s about groove, personal style and having fun. It’s a style that you get to just simply enjoy and have fun playing with.

Can you tell us a little bit about your instructors and what they bring to your program?

Where do I even begin! I absolutely adore each and every one of my instructors that I have on staff. When I was opening the doors to Industry, I had super high expectations for the caliber of dance I wanted to provide here in Windsor. I wanted to have instructors that specialized in street and commercial dance styles. With Windsor being a very structured and classical dance community, I was super nervous when it came to trying to find instructors that had a strong knowledge of hip-hop, jazz funk and heels. I definitely lucked out with the amazing faculty. Each one of my instructors bring something different to offer and that’s something that you don’t normally find. Most of the time, dance studios hire graduated dancers to come back and teach the next generation of dancers. That is an amazing thing, but the downside to it is that these instructors were all taught by the exact same teachers and educators. They all have very similar styles and their choreography is all relatively the same. Here, we have instructors from just about everywhere, and that were taught all over the city. Some of our faculty members are still currently working in the professional dance industry, some are self taught dancers, and others just have this style and work ethic that’s like no other. 

With Industry Dance Co. being a drop-in, choreography based dance studio, I have made it a point from day one that I wanted all of the classes we offer to have a new routine every single class. This is something that is a huge challenge as it takes a great amount of creativity and work ethic to constantly come up with new choreography week after week. My faculty has been so incredible when it comes to creating new pieces and it’s so awesome to sit back and watch my staff’s choreography continue to grow to the next level. Having new routines every class is something that is also very different from the norm. Normally at studios, you work on the same routine week after week, and if you’re not doing that you’re working on technique. Some say, “you won’t learn anything from choreography” but what we’ve seen from our clients in just a short period of time is absolutely insane. The amount of growth we’ve seen with our clients has been absolutely incredible. Clients are picking up choreography so much faster and are being exposed to so much more than just the technical components of hip-hop. 

As a studio what kind of steps do you take to make sure you offer proper dancer development to your clients?

There are many steps that we take here at Industry to ensure our clients are receiving the proper training and are progressively developing as dancers. Even though we are a choreography based commercial dance studio, that doesn’t mean that we don’t care about technique and the development of our clients. Technique training is very important for all arts, not just structured arts such as ballet and contemporary. Hip-Hop, breaking, popping and locking; they all have technique and it’s extremely important to us that when we’re teaching choreography based classes that we break down the steps and explain the technique and proper positioning of the movement. For example, in hip-hop you need to get low into the floor. When we’re teaching and breaking down routines we make sure to explain to our clients how we want their body’s positions and put a strong emphasis on the technique of “getting low.”

Almost all of our instructors here at industry are classical trained, while the others are self taught. Making sure that we provide proper training and are teaching both children and adults correctly is something that I have always made a priority. It’s our job as instructors to pass on our knowledge to the next generation of dancers and to educate them properly. We always use proper terminology in our classes and take the time to break down and explain what everything means – even with our little guys! We make sure to teach them this information at a young age so as they get older, they continue to develop further and use the techniques that we taught them to progressively get better and better.

Outside of dancing tell us about a few projects and events your team has been or will be involved in.

One thing I believe quite strongly in is giving back to the community. Since opening our doors in January, we have done fundraisers for various causes.  We have hosted Contemporary for a Cause, raising money for a fellow dancer in the city and his mother who are both fighting serious illnesses. As well, we have also hosted Hip Hop for a Cause classes for the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Make A Wish Foundation and Layla’s Army, which supported a young dancer from Windsor who was fighting cancer and was in Hospice care.  All proceeds from these classes have been donated.  Now that the Christmas season is upon us, we have reached out to Hiatus House Women’s Shelter to donate toys and other items for women and their children seeking refuge. This is an initiative that we will continue to pursue as I believe being part of a community comes with responsibility. I have been fortunate enough to be able to chase my dreams and I want to help those in need during difficult times.

What are some of the challenges you’ve had to overcome in your first year as a studio?

There are many challenges that I have to overcome in my first year of business, but I would say my biggest challenge would be choosing to create my own path and sticking to my overall vision of Industry Dance Co. This is something that I did not budge on whatsoever. Creating your own path definitely has its perks, but it also has its disadvantages. You don’t have anything to look to for inspiration, or studios to model your programs off of. You have to be super creative and go outside of the box to come up with new ideas for classes, studio offerings, programs, and overall find different ways to change up the game. This is something that is extremely difficult as it requires a great deal of creativity on a regular basis. I’ve always really enjoyed the creative side of things, so coming up with ideas was always something that I was strong at, but nobody could have prepared me for the amount of creativity I actually need in this industry. Coming up with choreography alone is huge. This takes a great deal of creativity as you have to listen to music and create something that you feel resembles the vibe, feel, message and/or the emotion of the song. Sometimes coming up with choreography can take days; it’s definitely not a 10 minute process. 

Another challenge that I had to overcome would be finding balance. I’m the type of person where if I’m working on something – I give it my all. I put all of my time and effort, blood, sweat and tears into it, and I don’t stop working at it until I’m 110% confident. You can ask my whole staff. They make fun of me all time the when I’m creating flyers and promos because I ask for their opinions on a few different options and none of them can even tell what changed. I’m very particular and hard on myself when it comes to my work and I won’t stop until it’s perfect. This is something that has been tough on me because like I said earlier, most of the time I’m working creative projects, which can be a long process. I have a hard time finding balance when it comes to taking time for myself, enjoying my days off and knowing when to step away from work to take a breather. I’m the type of person where if I have an idea I need to sit down and work on it right away or I’ll lose my train of thought and the direction of what I wanted to do.

What can we expect from you and your team in 2020?

What to expect from myself and my team in 2020? WOW, I don’t even know where I should begin. As I said earlier, we’re always busy working on new ideas and looking for new directions here at Industry. My team and I schedule meetings regularly to come up with new ideas, offerings, and projects that we would like to work on as individuals and as a team. We’re constantly pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zone and taking on new exciting opportunities and projects that will continue to push boundaries here in Windsor Essex County. We’re constantly connecting and networking with new people, businesses, and brands and new creating relationships with individuals throughout the community. We’re already working on several exciting new projects for 2020, but you can expect many more big things coming from us at Industry Dance Co. in the new year, from local and non-local brands, company and entrepreneur partnerships, entertainment, our clothing line “INDUSTRY,” community outreach, and new offerings of course. We want our clients to experience something so unique and one-of-a-kind, even something that they’ve never experienced before. We want people to feel like they’ve been transported to a big city every time they see, hear, experience, and even walk through the doors of Industry Dance Co.

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