It took just nine months to bring Surge Dance Company from a joke to a grand opening.
It all started on Jenna Bradshaw’s 21st birthday, when she was having a casual conversation with her friend and fellow UB Impulse Dance Force member Eve Rokhvadze. The two friends, who taught together at an area studio, shared a disdain for the cliquey competitiveness that pervades the dance world. After some time, their conversation turned into a stream of ideas for building a better learning environment.
“After we swapped so many ideas, one of us was kind of just like, ‘I think we just need to start our own studio. That’s the answer,’” Bradshaw told The Spectrum. “We laughed and we were like, ‘Oh, ha ha, that’s a joke.’ And then we looked at each other and we were like, ‘Oh, wait. Why not?’”
The pair cut the ribbon on their Williamsville studio on July 1, where they’ve been teaching classes on nights and weekends ever since.
Their inclusive and confident approach is already turning heads.
Bradshaw recalled a moment at the Music is Art Festival in downtown Buffalo, where 12 Surge dancers — many of them UB Impulse Dance Force alumni — staged a 10-minute performance.
After the show, a woman approached Bradshaw.
“It was the first time that she had seen someone who looked like her performing, and seeing different body types on stage, being confident and just dancing together in a positive environment,” Bradshaw said. “We were all having so much fun — you could see it on our faces. We were interacting with each other, all of that. She got emotional and started crying because she hadn't danced in years, because she hadn’t felt that type of community and felt accepted, or felt like her body would be accepted.”
To Bradshaw, it’s proof that Surge’s inclusive environment stands out.
“In a 10-minute dance, we got across everything that we’ve been trying to get across with our mission and our values at our studio — and she hadn’t even taken a class with us yet,” Bradshaw said.
While Surge’s dancers have largely found the studio through word of mouth, its social media presence has drawn attention from farther afield. A TikTok video of Rokhvadze and Bradshaw choreographing Rihanna’s “Needed Me” drew 2.1 million views and at least five new clients.
Bradshaw and Rokhvadze teach a variety of youth and adult classes. Ballet and heels classes have been popular, and they plan to teach more youth dancers, host holiday events and participate in community festivals like Music is Art.
The two dancers took what started as a pipedream cooked up at a birthday and turned it into a lilac-colored dance studio — and there’s no more fitting way for them to continue their friendship.
“Our entire friendship has been through dance,” Rokhvadze said. “Our story arc has come almost full circle.”
Sol Hauser is a news editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org