Lyndzi Barnes says she didn’t have the easiest childhood, but she always had dance. At 7, the Colorado Springs native discovered her passion for the art and soon began attending Danceworks of Colorado Springs, where she later became a teacher and apprentice. In 2009, she furthered her passion by buying the business with her grandmother’s help. Barnes, 26, and her husband Doug now run Danceworks and are preparing to move the business from its 16-year home on Union Boulevard to reopen as Summit Dance Works on the Powers corridor. She spoke this week about the business, the move and transitioning from student to teacher to owner.
I became interested when I was 7. My grandma rented “A Chorus Line” for me and from that moment on I was hooked. I took a dance class that year and started at the dance center here in Colorado Springs before moving to this studio when it opened … I started teaching here when I was 16 and apprenticed here later. I went off to college and planned to be a wedding planner, but I didn’t like Fort Collins. So I came home and started teaching here again.
What is your role with the company and how does that play into its mission?
I am the executive artistic director, so I manage everything from schedules to organization to the overall atmosphere of the studio … We don’t consider that we only sell dance classes; that’s our main offering, but what we sell here is the atmosphere … Our dancers don’t only learn to dance, they learn life lessons they can apply in any other aspect and the business they do … We’re also selling a family environment where everyone is welcome.
Can you tell me about buying the business?
My grandma and I bought the business together in 2009 and I now operate everything with the help of my husband Doug. I took all of my college money and my savings and invested all of that money into the business. But I had no credit at 19, so my grandma came on board with me and is still a silent partner.
My husband and I are opening a brand new corporation at the new studio and we will be doing that together 100 percent. He will run the business side and I will run the artistic side.
What challenges did you face in buying a business so young?
There was a huge amount of challenges in trying to learn every aspect of the business. Being 19, I went into it thinking that I knew how to do everything, but I had to learn to manage the financial side of it — employees, payroll, taxes, all of that — and everything else while working full-time, which was stressful.
There is also a lot of working with parents and kids and making sure they get everything they want and need. Having to learn and do all of that at 19 was definitely a hard concept. Trying to make that transition from student to teacher to boss was very challenging. It has taken six years to fully make that transition.
Can you talk about the new location and why you are moving?
This studio has been here for 16 years. Sixteen years ago, this was a prime spot — Union was huge and it was a great location. We bought the studio in 2009, right after the economy took the hit … and over the past six years we’ve just grown too big for this space.
Our classes are full and we are actually having to turn away students, so the biggest reason for the move is that we need more space.
We are going from 7,200 square feet and four studios here to 9,100 square feet and five studios there. It will be a better location for us because probably about 75 percent of our clients live out on Powers, so we’ll be closer to all of them.
We want to be in that booming area where all the kids are and continue to grow.
Our grand opening is in August and our full fall schedule will begin Aug. 24. We will offer 112 classes a week at the new location, so it’s a significant level of growth that we plan to see.
What do you hope the business will be able to accomplish?
We feel that we have an avenue here to help kids find whatever their passion is. The studio for me growing up was a home away from home — I was here more than I was at home. I didn’t have the best life growing up, and this place meant everything to me.
We have a lot of families that are like that, and we have a lot of kids who are here more than they’re home (sometimes 25 hours a week). We want to help those kids either find an avenue into the dance world or help them use dance for whatever they need.
I’m blind in one eye and I was born that way, and I feel that dance helped me keep me focused on what I needed to do. I want this to be the same thing for other kids — I want it to be that outlet for whatever they choose to do in their lives.
Why do you keep your business here?
Colorado Springs is just home … We have a really great dance community here with really great partnerships. I think there are 17 studios now in Colorado Springs and we all come together for benefits and events, we all recommend each other and we all help each other out. I couldn’t go somewhere without that camaraderie.