Teri Lovell, Owner of Alter Ego Dance Space, est. March, 2020
Alter Ego Dance Space is a small business devoted to being a safe space to explore movement with like-minded dancers. All classes are currently taught online and include everything from various forms of exotic dance and pole dance, to exploring mindfulness through meditation and movement, to flexibility-centered classes. Classes are for all ages 18 and up – currently, Teri’s students range from mid-20’s to mid-70’s!
Current career: Senior Budget Analyst with a side of Dance Instructor
Flirting with the Exotic Dance Movement
“Sometime around 2003, I heard about pole dance through the movie Dancing at the Blue Iguana, and of course Sheila with the S-Factor. However, my husband was in the Air Force, we were stationed in Italy at the time, and I had a newborn.”
Fast forward to 2016 and a move to Virginia.
“I remembered that I wanted to try [pole dance], so I found a local studio. I had never taken a dance class of any kind – not even as a child. Pole dance was amazing. I felt strong and sexy. Within a month I had a pole at home. At the end of 2018, I decided to enter my first Pole Sport Organization (PSO) competition, but my routine was so low level (those tricks in my head just wouldn’t work for me), a pole sister talked me into trying the exotic style. I fell in love. I still felt sexy and strong (maybe more) and it did nothing but INCREASE my confidence. I competed in my FIRST COMPETITION in Feb 2019 and I won!
What are preconceived notions people have about your business?
That it is inappropriate, or something they can’t do. While I have pole, chair, and floor dance classes that can go to the sexy side, I also have Flexibility Flow and Mindful Movement, which simply promotes functional movement and strength. I have something for everyone, and most can be accomplished in a small area of the home. Many women also feel they are too old to participate. There is no limit to age. I have students in their 20's through almost 80!
I started investigating the exotic style more and then found Liquid Motion. Liquid Motion is a floor dance style and it focuses on the methodology of movement and the initiation and pathways of movement, rather than individual moves or sequences. I tried it on my own for a while, and then in March of 2020, a training was offered within 3 hours of me. I jumped at the chance. Friends and I were already looking at finding our own studio space “co-op style” in the local area. The next week, everything stopped.”
The COVID-19 pandemic forced a huge shift in the dance community and posed challenges that could collapse any business, but especially one where you need to personally instruct students in movement. There was no way to safely start teaching in person. What’s a smart businesswoman to do? Adapt and conquer…
“By the end of March, I put together a test group to take my classes online. I was an early adopter and one of the first offering regular online dance classes. As the world shut down, I found students from all over it! US, Canada, UK, and New Zealand, to name a few. By Fall, I decided to branch out, and found XPERT Fitness Flexibility Flow course. Flexibility Flow is a functional movement and stretch class. I completed that certification and put together some test classes.”
How did COVID impact the opening of your business?
It was instrumental in starting my business. Most of my students are from all over the world. I did not have enough local interest to start a physical location, so if COVID had not happened, I would still be certified with Liquid Motion 1.0 and probably not doing anything with it. MAYBE I would have started teaching online, but it is likely that no one would have been available to even try it. With the shutdown that lasted most of 2020, people were able to try my class from all different time zones, and without their home studios or even workplaces open, they stuck around and fell in love.
Teri continued finding ways to expand her curriculum and offerings. She acquired another certification in Exotic Burn Floor Dance and Beginner and Intermediate Showgirl Spin from Cleo’s Rock N Pole (CRNP). Exotic Burn is an American Exotic Style Choreography class.
“I really started thinking about how I could expand my offerings and thought about adding a mindfulness practice to the Flexibility Flow class. The School of Positive Transformation offered a self-paced, very in depth 30-day course on Meditation and Mindfulness. I started offering Mindful Flex Flow as a class that starts with a short meditation, nerve flosses, basic movement exercises with an eye toward mindfulness. We then cool down and do a final, slightly longer mediation, then end the class in silence so everyone can just be for as long as they wish.
What do you find most challenging?
Growing in the online world. There are many more choices out there now, so it is difficult to distinguish yourself. Also, after more than a year of lockdown, people are ready to get back into rooms with other people, I can’t offer that until I grow this some.
What has surprised you most?
The worldwide participation. I envisioned MAYBE having a handful of the pole dancer’s I already knew, but with social media, I am constantly thinking of time zones when I plan and schedule classes.
So here I am, teaching Mindful Movement, Flexibility Flow, Liquid Motion, CRNP Exotic Burn, and Spin N Burn. I occasionally offer specialty classes that also involve chair dance. I still have to start the CRNP Intermediate Showgirl Spin, so that is coming soon…”
What do you want people to know most about your business?
What I do truly is for everyone. If you have been sitting on the couch for the last year, come take a Flexibility Flow Class. If you are stressed out after work or frustrated with your partner, come take a Mindful Movement Class. If you are a pole dancer who needs to work on floor work or an artistic dancer who wants to get a little sexy, try CRNP Exotic Burn or Liquid Motion. And if you are just ready to feel a little better about you, look at yourself in the mirror and see the sexy, and find yourself again, my classes are for you.
HAS EXOTIC DANCE PIQUED YOUR INTEREST? READ ON TO FIND OUT HOW YOU CAN TRY IT OUT WITH TERI.
Is it easy for people to take a class? What do they need to do so?
It is easy to take class. You can go sign up on the website for whatever interests you (to include an intro class to get started). You fill out a little form telling me if you have anything I need to know about your health or ability and we go from there. For Flex Flow you only need the space for a yoga mat. For Liquid Motion or Exotic Burn you need about 6 square feet or so. It’s ideal to have knee pads, but there isn’t any particular equipment for most classes. I have had people in the same class attend in their sexiest outfits, or a PJ Onesie, there is not a “sexy” requirement. That feeling comes from the inside, in whatever you wear.
My classes are multi-level, with modifications for students who are not ready to do certain moves, or even just having an off day. We walk step by step through each move and go over it as much as necessary using verbal cues.
Do people need to have dance experience?
NO! I started this with zero dance experience. I run multi-level classes that are inclusive to everyone. I also have classes that are not dance based.
Can people try it before committing to pay for classes? Absolutely. Simply sign up for my newsletter on my website and I will send you a code to try one class for free!
Can people do a private class if they aren’t ready to practice in front of others? You can try a private lesson if you are nervous about a regular class, but class size is small and you feed off each other’s struggles and successes. I offer 1-hour sessions starting at $25, and 4-session packages starting at $75. Privates are targeted sessions that work on exactly what it is you want to improve or learn.
What does it cost? The drop-in rate for classes is $12, but I offer different packages to drive that per-class cost down. I also routinely offer package discounts near holidays to take costs down even further… I am always happy to help if anyone comes to me unable to afford my classes. Just ask.
What will people gain through participating? Strength, confidence, self-worth, self-awareness, pride, joy, mental and physical rejuvenation. Physical and mental well-being.
What do you find most satisfying? When [my students] “get” it. There isn’t a better feeling than when you are teaching someone and they don’t get it at first, then you get them there. It’s amazing.
Do you plan to expand your class offerings? I am always adding or shifting or modifying. I am almost ready to start ~20-minute lunchtime Lives on Facebook. They will be just a quick Mobility and Meditation to get you up from your desk and ready for the second half of the day. For now, my focus is growing what I have, adding more specialty classes, and completing that Intermediate Pole Cert so I can get it incorporated into my schedule.
Do you plan to grow into an in-person environment? That would be a goal. I see more interest in the local area, so if I can fill my online classes, it will allow me to afford to go get a space and offer in-person at the same time.
What do you want people to know about this journey for you? For me, and for everyone – start where you are. Do it today. You are not too old. Enjoy the community.
How can people get in touch or try a class? Obviously, my website, but I am most accessible on Instagram @AlterEgoDance.Space. I am across platforms at the same handle, and my email is firstname.lastname@example.org If you sign up for the newsletter on my WEBSITE, I will send you a one time use regular class code to come try a class!
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