Waiting in the wings or backstage before stepping on stage is a feeling that can only be accurately described by those who have experienced it. A swirling combination of excitement, anxiety, tension, and most importantly, promise. The promise that your hard work will carry the message to the waiting audience and the promise to trust in yourself to slay the day.
The confidence to step on stage, or confidence in general, is a rare commodity these days. Fortunately, Studio House Barrie offers a safe space to find a supportive community and encourage individuals to strut their stuff.
The company offers an array of classes, services, and its latest production celebrates the human body in all its shapes and sizes.
Before hitting the stage, I had the opportunity to ask Studio House Barrie owner Wendy Graham a few questions about the studio and what an audience can expect from their upcoming event.
RV: When did you discover dance, and was there a particular moment that you knew it would be a lifelong passion and career?
WG: I have been dancing since age five, but it wasn’t until I started choreographing when I realized that this is what I wanted to do. Creating pieces that make an impact and give the audience a feeling of joy, excitement, sadness, or empowerment is what fills my heart and will be my passion until the day I die.
RV: What is Studio House, and who is it for?
WG: Studio House is an 18+ multipurpose studio. We offer dance classes, performance programs, body positivity and confidence-building workshops, and photography services. Our studio is for anyone (over 18) who wants to be surrounded by a positive, supportive community and wants to tap into their confident, sensual and powerful side that we tend to lose in our adult years.
RV: What has been the most rewarding part of teaching and seeing individuals in your studio?
WG: This is an easy one. Witnessing the confidence grow in our students and watching them take it into their everyday lives. We have had students chase their dream jobs, end toxic relationships, and believe in themselves more than they ever thought possible. Holding your head high in the studio is one thing, but holding it higher when you leave is inspirational.
RV: Is there a brand or aesthetic that Studio House is known for? How do you achieve it both in class and on stage?
WG: We are definitely known for our Stilettos program and the body positivity that comes along with it. We are judged by society in our everyday lives, and we strive on the studio being a safe place, where you know you can be authentically you with nothing but love and support. We have an anti-bullying policy in place, and no egos are welcome beyond the front door. In the studio and on stage, no matter who you are, we are all equals and are all there to feel better about ourselves. We do our very best to give our students all the tools they need to tap into their most confident selves.
RV: What is the story driving Body Language - All Bodies are Beautiful Bodies, and what can the audience expect?
WG: Body Language is all about celebrating how beautiful and strong our bodies really are. How can they be such a tool to inspire, create, and give you the power to live your best life?
The show (which is 18+) will have a variety of groups, solos and duets of several different styles. We have heels, hip-hop, contemporary, jazz, burlesque and ballet fusion. All the routines and music were selected to showcase how beautiful and powerful our bodies truly are – and allow our students to show off how proud they are to be in the bodies they are in. It is definitely a little risqué, but that’s the best part!
RV: Why is this an important story to tell?
WG: Social media and the fashion industry have set “beauty standards” that so many compare themselves to. It causes body dysmorphia, low self-confidence, eating disorders, and many mental health issues. Not to mention, we are torn down by strangers, for no reason, on an almost daily basis.
We have no right to judge other people, and the moment you show how much you love yourself, it takes power away from those who try to bring you down. We need to learn to really be proud of who we are and not be afraid to show it off.
RV: If there was a piece of advice you could go back and tell yourself when you started Studio House and producing shows, what would it be?
WG: To follow my heart. Previous shows didn’t display what we truly stood for out of fear of what the audience would like and dislike. I have realized over time that just doing what we do best is more than enough. At this point, we have made a name for ourselves, and people know what we stand for – and should be prepared to be surprised and also have their minds blown and leave feeling inspired. If I want my dancers to believe in themselves, I need to do the same with myself.
RV: What three songs should people stop and dance to right now?
WG: 1) About Damn Time – Lizzo
2) Superbloom – MisterWives
3) Big Energy - Latto
Body Language - All Bodies are Beautiful Bodies is an 18+ event performed at the Barrie Curling Club, located at 175 Essa Rd., Barrie, on Aug. 20 at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. General tickets and limited VIP tables are available. For more information, please click here.