Rae Wilson is the owner of Choreography by Rae. Wilson is a professional dancer, actress, and choreographer. In 2015, Wilson started offering dance classes in New York City public schools and private lessons. Wilson describes herself as “the girl with seven jobs”, reflecting her varied interests and the fact that one job did not pay all the bills.
Prior to the pandemic, Wilson commuted into Manhattan to teach in rented spaces and schools. She had students in Chelsea and the Upper West Side. Despite the high incomes in these areas, Wilson found it hard to find a consistent set of students. The families she taught tended to go away for the holidays and would stop classes in January. Business would usually pick up in March.
But in March 2020, the pandemic put NYC into lockdown and everything changed. Some of her past families started to ask if she was teaching and Wilson started doing story time and free dance classes online. Entire families started joining in the dance classes, having fun and even wearing costumes.
Wilson’s online class business started to take off. She went from 10 classes a week to 30 classes a week, bringing in independent contractors to help her offer a wider range of classes. She employed high school students as interns, and had a former restaurant manager teaching Portuguese and coding. A ballerina who could no longer work professionally because theaters were closed became one of her ballet teachers.
Now Wilson says that she plans to keep teaching online and has no plans of going back to in-person classes. She said “the cost of virtual real estate is a lot lower” and “online classes allow me to run smaller classes, where I can know everyone by name.
One of her regular students is a young girl who lives in London. She comes every day for story time – in her pajamas because it’s her bedtime story in London.
Wilson has quickly learned the ins and outs of running a dance business. Early on, she was told that most dance studios run in the red, and are not profitable. To get new students, she tried running google ads and being part of different online marketplaces. After some trial and error, Wilson said, “ActivityHero has been the best online platform for me. As many as 70% of my customers find me on ActivityHero.”
“We believe in dance as a community, self-empowerment, not competitive. Being remote we can bring this philosophy and offer smaller classes. I’m no longer the girl with seven jobs. I now have the business I dreamed of, in large part thanks to ActivityHero.”