Located in uptown Waterloo, The Underdog (as they affectionately call themselves) is an “everyone is welcome” dance studio offering seven different types of dance programs with a variety of different formats, creating an accessible experience for all levels of dance and movement.
“Our classes are … for people who never thought they could dance or the people who say ‘I have two left feet’,” Emily Peat, the studio founder, said.
“I think you’re perfect, get over here.”
Peat has a passion for dance, especially Latin dance with several years of experience under her belt. Although Peat does not have decades of classical dance training, her passion shines through with her inclusive business plan. That passion prompted her to make a huge career change in order to follow her dreams.
“I was working previously doing engineering and had started taking dance lessons just for something to do in the evenings and weekends,” Peat said.
“I just totally fell in love with it and ended up taking lots of classes myself within the community, and then eventually moving on to teach just as a hobby. It kind of just snowballed over a couple of years.”
The classes offered at The Underdog Dance Corp. are different from other studios in the area because they provide individuals with diverse types of pricing and packages to make the experience of accessing services accessible to all different skill levels and budgetary needs.
“We don’t ask for six months of commitment and thousands and thousands of dollars. It’s five weeks, and you come in for that Friday night drop-in and you can come in for an hour and see how you feel. There are no hard sales and no pressure to commit,” Peat said.
If you still aren’t convinced to give The Underdog Dance Corp. a try, then you may be enticed with some added accessibility and inclusivity features that the studio has to offer.
“We have a no-judgment space [where] everybody’s welcome … We’ll meet you where you’re at and then you can work as hard as you want and do as much as you want to put in,” Peat said.
“Our instructors are chosen specifically for the way that they make students feel when they enter the class.”
Peat explained that not having years of classic dance training is not a concern for her. Her ability to learn dance as an adult allows her to be more empathetic to students who are learning a new skill.
“I’m constantly taking classes for myself from other instructors, working on my own skills and growing with the studio, and with all of our students as well,” Peat said.
“I haven’t lost sight of what it feels like to have to learn a new skill or move in a different way.”
The studio is interested in fostering an environment of self-improvement and personal growth in a positive way, in which students can progress not only physically but emotionally as well.
“We’ve all got different ways that we run our classes, all the instructors, but the message is the same. Lauren, our heels instructor, says it best, ‘If you wouldn’t say it to the person next to you, you don’t get to say it about yourself’,” Peat said.
In terms of COVID-19 precautions, Peat is aware of the pandemic and is committed to protecting her students’ and staff’s safety. Peat has gone above and beyond the provincial guidelines for maintaining the safety of the studio for all her students. Instructors wear masks in class, and everyone is safely distanced.
[There’s] this idea [that] everybody’s there to lift each other up and to support [each other]. I think we’ve been really fortunate so far because that’s an environment that we encourage — they’re just wonderful people in the community who build each other up.”