We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Rebecca Harman a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Rebecca, thanks for joining us, excited to have you contributing your stories and insights. It’s always helpful to hear about times when someone’s had to take a risk – how did they think through the decision, why did they take the risk, and what ended up happening. We’d love to hear about a risk you’ve taken.
After retiring as a professional dancer, I decided to pursue other interests and started teaching at a relatively young age. While I taught in the evenings, I earned my undergrad in History and then my Master’s degree in historic preservation and ended up working in corporate America. It was definitely a long way from the dance studio. Then, after the birth of my first baby, when it was time to go back to work, we struggled to find childcare and I also realized I might not be the right fit for the corporate world world. It was scary but ultimately worth it to redirect myself to my passions, which now included motherhood.
I did miss teaching and connecting with young dancers, and knew that I had to keep sharing my passion for dance with others, all while fitting it into my schedule as a new mom. As I was sharing these feelings with a friend and neighbor, it was suggested to me that our neighborhood really needed a dance studio for the kids. That planted the seed for what became The Neighborhood Ballet. TNB was started with zero capital and I was terrified. It has risen from absolutely nothing but a dream, which is so wild.
I am so grateful to have started within a community that was very supportive and I have made some really wonderful contacts that I feel so lucky to have met along the way. The team that we have at TNB is incredible and each person on our staff is committed to arts education and serving our amazing students and their families. It’s a truly amazing team.
At the end of the day, when you are a small business owner, it’s a sacrifice for the whole family, and I am so thankful for my husband, Steven – who has believed in me and has had my back in the hardest of times. My kids are so patient with me as I have navigated this life where work and family time blend constantly.
The path to creating TNB wasn’t a direct path, and it didn’t come without risk or worry, but now I have a life where I get to be a parent, a small business owner, and a teacher who empowers dance students with a nurturing environment.
How about pivoting – can you share the story of a time you’ve had to pivot?
Like everyone, the onset of the pandemic forced us to pivot our business in a major way. Obviously, the health and safety of our students and teachers had to come first, but we could also see that the loss of dance was only adding to the stress of our students. They were spending their days at home and going to school online, and they were not getting enough physical activity or time with their peers. The impact was too great to ignore, so we decided to move our classes outside. It allowed our students to express their feelings with movement while keeping up their training in a safe environment. We were even able to set up performances outdoors. We used pallets to build a stage in a church parking lot, and it provided a space for our dancers to get performance time in front of a live audience, which is invaluable. Classes are indoors again which offers so much with proper flooring, barres, and mirrors, but that time of resiliency has been important for all of us at The Neighborhood Ballet and we have more gratitude than ever to get to be together, doing what we love.
Can you share a story from your journey that illustrates your resilience?
Being a mom of three little ones and having a small business is incredibly challenging, but I have has to learn to treat myself with more grace. It’s something that I am working on daily. Motherhood and entrepreneurship often have to overlap, and that is okay. I’m lucky to work with other teachers who are also balancing career and family, so I know I’m not alone in wanting to find harmony in my work and home life.
- Website: https://theneighborhoodballet.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theneighborhoodballet/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/neighborhoodballet
Steven Harman, Rebecca Harman, Heidi Harris and Mark Tioxon