Aiming to change lives through the discipline of dance, Jennifer Real-Lim set up Orange Dance Studio in 2011.
Jen Graduated with a degree in Interior Design, but “dance is my first love,” the 34-year-old professes.
Jen started with ballet at the age of eight, studying the dance for eight years. Then she took up jazz and later, hip-hop. While she was in high school, she taught ballet to young children as a junior assistant.
“After graduating from college I got a job but I was also offered to be a choreographer for a group in Miriam College,” Jen recounts. Under her tutelage, that dance team won several competitions.
As a result, a lot of other groups asked Jen to be their teacher, too.
“That was when my then boyfriend, Dexter – who is now my husband – and I decided to put up a studio where we could teach more people and help groups realize and develop their full potential in dance,” Jen recalls.
The couple named the dance studio Orange, “a color that emits energy”, says Jen. This is also explains the studio’s color scheme.
“We wanted an atmosphere that would radiate its meaning, orange walls and blue outlines,” Jen enlightens. “Later on, we found out that orange is the color of hip-hop, so it was a very fitting name to have for the studio.”
Orange was thus intended more as a means of reaching out to people, especially the youth, through dance. The business aspect of the project was farthest from Jen’s mind. After all, Jen was not born into an entrepreneurial family.
“Both my parents were not into business, although they were very successful in their respective careers,” she remarks.
In fact, Jen’s mother, while supportive, was cautious about the endeavor.
“My mother would say that in the world of dance, you have to be exceptionally good to be recognized. I took it as a challenge, and I was always aware that the business side of this project would not be easy,” Jen relates.
But everything fell into place. With P200, 000 from her mother and her own savings, the studio was set up. Friends and family, especially Jen’s eldest sister, ll supported the endeavor with advice and encouragement. And Jen always found solace and guidance in prayer.
Orange Dance Studio’s first home was in Quezon City. “Our first students were about six or seven high school students. It was an enjoyable class, we all had fun,” Jen says.
It wasn’t always smooth sailing, but Jen refuses to dwell on mistakes, preferring to “have a positive outlook in life and everything I do.”
Orange’s own success is one of its biggest challenges. Thanks to good word of mouth and the quality of teaching at the studio, Orange has gained more students, although revenues were not exactly spectacular with Jen’s focus staying on improving her student’s lives.
“My husband and I have managed to sustain the studio’s finances with God’s help,” she declares.
With a growing student population, Orange has had to relocate to bigger venues. It is now at its third location, a warehouse in Pasig City that has been transformed to nearly 500 square meters of dance floor with some space for an office.
It’s a good thing that Orange got a bigger space because 20011 is shaping up to be Orange’s busiest yet.
“We will celebrate our 10th year twice over, as wel would say. The year marks our 10th summer dance funshop, as well as our 10th year as a studio,” Jen proudly declares.
Last June 5, with more than 300 students, Orange staged “[email protected]”, celebrating the studio’s 10th funshop. This was followed in September 10 with the anniversary concert, “Decade of Dance”.
“Decade of Dance” exhibited through dance the reason why ODS exists – “to develop dancers and transform lives,” Jen stresses.
“The concert was a celebration of what we were in the past decade, and a declaration of what will be in the next. With over 1,000 students that have gone through Orange, we look forward to the thousand more who we will train to develop their fullest potential,” Jen says.
Looking back, Jen acknowledges that Orange’s success as a business is more a consequence of the studio’s desire to change lives. Orange’s operation was guided by heart.
“From the very start, I was really positive about everything. I knew that when you put your heart into something that you love doing, anything is possible. I don’t want to sound too preachy but I really dedicated the studio to God so that He would not just bless us, but also give us wisdom in making things happen and know our purpose in life; that as we train people and develop their passion in dancing, we also mentor them. We tell our students that here in Orange, ‘We are one family’. That’s why our studio’s vision is, ‘to see Orange Dance Studio as an institution of excellence rooted in Christ, developing passionate dancers and transforming lives’,” Jen concludes.
But the story of Orange Dance Studio does not end there. As long as there are lives to be transformed, Orange will live on. That is Jen’s vision and prayer.