Homegrown Business: Baza Dance Studios

Baza Dance Studios offers a variety of dance classes at a variety of levels, specializing in Latin and Afro-Caribbean dance styles (such as Salsa, Kizomba, Bachata, etc)! No matter what level of dance you are at, or what age you are, at Baza Dance Studios there is a class for you. We spoke with Tracie Yee, Programs Director, on behalf of Wayne and Kristal Barbaza, Directors, Founders and Owners of Baza Dance Studio.

Baza Dance Studios

What is your business called and what does it do?

Baza Dance Studios, located at 1304 Seymour Street (just south of the intersection of Seymour and Drake) opened in 2016 and recently celebrated its 6th Anniversary! We specialize in Latin and Afro-Caribbean dance styles for partner and solo dancing, including Salsa, Bachata, Kizomba and Brazilian Zouk.

We are a recreational studio that runs a full weekly schedule of dance classes for all levels of adult dance students interested in Latin, Afro and Afro-Caribbean dance – from the complete beginner with “two left feet” to the established “hardcore” dancer who goes out to every social event, we are a place to call “dance home” for those who love Latin and Afro-Caribbean dance!

What made you want to do this work?

We believe deeply in the power of dance to connect people – Baza Dance Studio is a studio for dancers, managed by dancers. First and foremost we LOVE to teach and inspire students – especially adult students who come through our doors from all walks of life. No matter what is going on in the outside world, when we are in the studio we are all there for the same purpose with the same passion and love for dance, and watching students go from shy beginners to confident dancers who become active and enthusiastic members of our community is extremely rewarding.

What problem did you want to solve with the business?

When we moved to Vancouver from Toronto in 2013 we saw an opportunity to provide more structured and high-quality Latin, Afro and Afro-Caribbean dance instruction to downtown Vancouver. There was just so much potential here – an eager dance community that was in its early stages of growth that could really benefit from our brand of dance instruction. After teaching for another studio for a couple of years we could see people really connected with our vibe and style of dance and instruction, and so Baza Dance was born.

Who are your clientele/demographics?

Our classes are catered to adult dancers (age 18+) and most of our clientele is between 25-45 years of age, although we truly believe that when it comes to dancing we are all young at heart!

How does your business make money? How does it work?

Our main product offering is our weekly group dance classes, which are under two categories: “partnered” dances such as Salsa, Bachata, Kizomba and Brazilian Zouk, and “Solo” dances which vary from Latin pop styles to Afrobeats to Brazilian Samba, to Zumba. Even though our partnered dance classes have people dancing in partners, students do not need to register with their own partners because we’ll pair them up in class and students rotate/change partners as the class proceeds. In fact, most of our students sign up as singles, and even dancers who sign up in pairs will still opt to rotate/change partners in class because it’s a great way to meet other people in the community and it also facilitates learning.

We also offer private lessons for dancers who want to push their learning or need a bit of extra help, and social activities to provide opportunities for dancers in our partnered classes to practice what they’ve learned, gain confidence, and meet more people in the community.

We also provide private lessons for wedding dances and studio rentals to other independent instructors.

Where in Vancouver can we find your profession?

There are a number of Latin dance studios in Vancouver – we are the only established studio in downtown Vancouver but there are many other studios in the mainland as well as independent instructors who offer social events and drop-in classes.

What is the best question a prospective customer could ask a member of your profession when comparing services? Give the answer as well.

The question we get asked the most is “how does it work”? The best way we can help an individual get started on their dance journey with us is to determine what dance style they want to start with – whether they want to learn how to dance Salsa because they want to feel more competent on the club dance floor or if they’re trying to improve their overall wellness by becoming more active, we can guide a client to the right classes by finding out what music moves them the most and brings them joy. All of our instructors are highly experienced and qualified so we know once we place a student in the right dance class they’re going to have a great time!

We carefully curate our class schedule and syllabus for our partner dance classes to ensure that students are supported every step (pardon the pun) of the way, so when someone takes our classes they know they are being set up for success on the dance floor if they’re willing to put in the time and effort.

What is the best part about what you do? What is the worst part?

The best part is watching a student go from their first class as a beginner, who is completely self-conscious and hiding in the back of the studio, to becoming a confident dancer who can’t wait for their next class or social dance opportunity – all while making new friends along the way.

Since dance is a very personal art it’s really difficult when a student doesn’t connect with you as an instructor – it’s really tough not to take that personally or feel rejected when someone doesn’t like your class, but at the end of the day, we realize we can’t be all things to all people and focus on the hundreds of dancers who do love what we provide.

What is your favourite joke about your own profession?

There are a ton of hilarious memes about Latin and Afro-Caribbean dance instructors and performers – it’s hard to pinpoint a favourite but probably the most funny are “What my friends think I do” with a photo of a very sexy couple striking a “Latin dance pose” put next to a “What I actually do” photo which is basically a bunch of regular folks awkwardly trying to dance with each other.

What are your social media channels?

@bazadancestudios on Instagram and Facebook and our website.

PAY IT FORWARD: What is another Vancouver business that you love?

We want to give a shout-out to Stephen and Jennifer Dancey at D2 studio – they gave us our start in Vancouver as Latin Dance instructors when they had Dancey Ballroom.