More from Vanessa Gerhards

I graduated when I was 19 and had an even stronger desire explore the world. For my graduation, my beloved grandmother gifted me with a six week trip to the United States so I could visit old family and relatives. That visit changed everything for me. There was this big wide open country and it had entrepreneurship written all over it. I saw such a variety of nature, monuments and American culture that I had never experienced before. I had quite a lot of travel experience in Europe, but something made me feel right at home in the States. It was only a few short years after that trip that I decided to pack up my suitcases, the little savings I had and take a big leap of faith. In 1997, I moved to Naples, Florida.

Life in Naples, full of enjoyment and close to the beach, was so different from my home country. There was a new language, new customs and large super market isles filled with food to explore forever. I was a foreign student and craving all the education I could get while studying English and Business. I supported myself through student jobs and made amazing connections who were all so willing to help a German girl like me. Dance became slightly secondary there for a while until I stepped back into a ballet class. After taking a few classes, I got asked to sub and teach some classes. Something inside me switched on again and that’s when I knew dance was my light of life. After five years of living in Florida, love and karma and a green card brought me to Boulder, CO in 2002. Truly, that’s when the real journey began for me. I fell in love with Colorado in an instant. Compared to Florida, life here was more made for my soul, energy and spirit and the dance community alone was so wonderful and diverse. One again, I felt in my heart I was in the right place for many blessings to come.

I found dance studios I could teach at and even though it wasn’t many hours a week, those hours filled my life with so much joy. I found places and companies I could dance, train and perform with. I did choreography for Opera, Theater and High Schools. But dancers don’t make much money so I still had quite a variety supporting side jobs, like working: as a nanny, with the elderly, in the food industry and doing office and administration work. I was never shy, always outgoing, and customer service oriented. All of these jobs peaked my curiosity, but none of them would leave me as happy or satisfied at the end of the day as being in the dance studio dancing with other loving beings. Seriously NOTHING could even closely replace that feeling, so I thought let’s go back to my business side strength, work hard and stay focused, so that one day I can do ONLY what I love doing, which is teaching, choreographing and performing. So, many many years later and that later is now, and I am 45 and I am finally able to say I am self-employed. I independently contract with kind hearted dance studios and make my daily living doing what I love, dancing.

This community has brought me friends for life and I am beyond grateful for all the amazing individuals who have helped me along the way. They have supported my passion and I consider the studios I contract with my “dance family.” This journey that has brought me to where I am today is really what makes my heart sing happy tunes. All of the education, experience and diverse money-making opportunities I have had, helped me grow personally, but foremost, I stayed true of my heart on my journey all along and I will continue to do so. I’d rather be rich in my heart than rich in my bank account. I know we can’t have it all, but we can choose to find inner happiness any time during our lives.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There have certainly been a few obstacles along the road, mostly language barriers for the first few years. I had six years of schooling in English while growing up, which gave me the basics, but yet, I seriously needed to expand my vocabulary. I was always so curious about the language and every day I remember learning certain words in a certain way. I really enjoyed picking up on all the accents and I was trying very hard to lose my German accent. Therefore, it was hard to find people I could truly understand and sometimes listening to the news I would only get half of it. But I have mastered this language by now, and still find it fun. I miss family and the German sense of humor, as well as the German bread and that is even after 24 years. I have made great friends along the way who have helped me on the road and supported my passion.

DanceHaus LLC – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I founded DanceHaus LLC in 2014. I just wanted to finally be my own entrepreneur and continue growing towards the future. This path has brought new opportunities; some that worked and some that didn’t.

I currently contract with Kinesis Dance, which I am proud to call my dance family for the last 15 years. I also offer my classes with MCDA at Mountain Kids in Louisville. I enjoy being a strong part of the recreational dance community as well as independent dance studios, many of which I offer my teachings and technical knowledge. I believe dance is for everyone and you can choose your place, space and teacher. When you find me, and step into my class I will strive to make sure you are loving dance, yourself and me too! I offer a large variety of preschool dance with my creative dance classes for ages 2-6 being my specialty! Nothing makes me happier than dancing and twirling with beautiful tiny souls, all smiling and all so free to be. The classes I offer on a weekly basis are: Ballet, Jazz Dance, Lyrical, Musical Theater, Contemporary and Acrobatics. In addition to the technique classes, I provide choreography for dance companies, schools and institutions. My new goal is to integrate the elderly and the youngest in the community together with dance.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
The beauty of my work are the every day moments that make me so proud. Seeing a child step into dance class for the first time, feeling quiet and shy, yet 45 minutes later leaving with confidence and a huge smile on their face. Teaching a teenager, who struggles at home and providing them with a safe space and a shoulder to lean on and giving dance as an outlet. Giving private ballet lessons to a 40 year old men, who still wants to dance in the Nutcracker and making that dream actually possible. They all inspire me so much. Spreading joy among my students is one of my favorite attributes as a teacher. I am not only teaching them dance technique in different styles and forms, but I am also providing guidance for so much more. Team work, listening skills, creativity, musicality and rhythmic awareness, the ability to express themselves, these are just a few amazing qualities that dance class can provide at any age and I feel so fortunate and blessed to be able to share these gifts.

This year, I had many graduating senior dancers that took their first dance class with me when they were just tiny beings. I made them fall in love with dance and they didn’t stop. I watched them grow up and become beautiful young adults. That is true happiness for me.

Contact Info:

  • Phone: 720-771-7173
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Interview from Voyage Denver, juli 2020