Jessica Goldman: Dance Forever And Set Your Soul On Fire!
We are all but children trying to figure out how to be adults, but who is to say that by being an adult, we cannot “be young, have fun, and dance forever?” As adults, we can lose that zest for having fun and we become so critical of ourselves and our actions. We think that being mature means to act a certain way, when in reality it means being unafraid to be yourself and to feel like yourself. One way to release yourself from those self-imposed shackles is through dance. Dancing is in our blood, our soul, our body. It has been around forever and through every culture, tradition, and religion. It’s is not just about coming into a dance class with your tutu and leotards and being perfect, but by letting loose and being present and in the flow. Dance can release unwanted blocks in your body that may be holding you back. Join Karen Pulver and her featured Goddesses as they listen to the most amazing positive influencer around, Jessica Goldman. Her infectious spirit will inspire you to get up off that couch and move your body to joy and happiness. Get ready to set your soul on fire!!
Watch the episode here
Listen to the podcast here
Jessica Goldman: Dance Forever And Set Your Soul On Fire!
I want to tell you a story. You should be dancing. We all should be dancing. My story is this. I was feeling down and depressed several years ago. I decided after I dropped my kids off at Sunday school to go for a walk and I put out into the universe, “Surprise me.” I’m feeling so down. I’m not even sure why, but I’m like, “Universe, surprise me.” I started walking and I started opening my eyes and my ears to what was out there. I stumbled upon this sign outside of a studio and it said, “Cardio striptease classes.” I was like, “Universe, thank you. That’s my surprise. I’m going to jump on this and I’m going to do it.”
I ran back home, picked up my kids and called my friend. I said, “Do this with me.” She’s like, “Forget it. We’re grown-up women. We can’t do a cardio striptease. It’s probably for twenty-year-olds.” I’m like, “I don’t care. We’re doing it.” We showed up and there’s this beautiful, energetic, vivacious, positive aura of this woman, Jessica Goldman. Her name at the time was Jessica Swiggum. She had on the pink boa and she was like, “Ladies, we’re going to get on the dance floor and you’re going to learn some cardio striptease classes. We’re going to do this. It’s going to be so much fun.” She toasted us with a glass of champagne and I have never had much fun.Dance is not about coming in leotards and being perfect, it's about having joy and fun. Click To Tweet
I danced and danced and I look forward to this. We didn’t take our clothes off. We just moved and grooved. It was amazing. I am excited to have Jessica here with us. Since that time, since that moment when I was feeling down, I have been opened up to much positivity and happiness because of Jessica. She’s brought dance to my family, which I’ll tell you some more stories about, and to many people all over Chicago, and now all over the world because she’s virtual.
Jessica Goldman is the Founder of Dance Forever. She has been rocking it out since the ripe old age of three. She grew up in Wisconsin where she danced competitively at Accent On Dance Studios until she moved to Minnesota to dance on the nationally acclaimed University of Minnesota Varsity Dance Team. After college, she danced professionally for the Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bulls. She opened All About Dance when she was 24 years old and has been infecting Chicago with her energetic dance classes ever since.
She has been inducted into the Hall of Fame as a Lululemon Ambassador and has been voted the ClassPass Most Motivating Instructor in Chicago. She will rock your world and you will love every second on the dance floor with her. Beyond the dance floor, Jessica lives in Nashville with her husband, Scott, two daughters, Juliette and Gabriella, and her loving dog, Layla. She commutes back and forth to Chicago to keep her pulse in both cities as she aspires to launch Dance Forever and All About Dance Nashville in the near future. Welcome, Jessica Goldman, to Grateful Goddesses.
Thanks for having me.
I love having you here. I was so excited. I’m wearing my Grateful Goddess t-shirt because when I had danced at your studio for a while. I was thinking about other things I wanted to do and that idea of Grateful Goddesses came into my mind, I called you up and I said, “I’m thinking about this. I’m not sure where I’m going to do it and how I’m going to do it.” Do you remember what you said?
Yes. We’re going to do it at the studio.
It was the first one. We had meditation and we filled up the whole studio with 40 women. I gave out these t-shirts. You were so amazing and supportive, which I needed that female support. A lot of times, women are so hard on each other. I’m wondering what you were thinking back then about Grateful Goddesses.
I opened All About Dance with not just a mission to teach people to dance. I truly wanted to change people’s lives and do it in a way that was very authentic and intuitive knowing that dance isn’t just about coming in leotard and tights and being perfect. I wanted to bring so much more to people. You were just an extension of that. You’re wanting to open especially adult women’s eyes to something that could bring them back to their youth or open their hearts to something new. That’s what it’s all about. We were soulmates from the beginning.
If I could use my studio as a catapult to that, then that was an extension of what I was trying to do anyway. I remember that night that meditation when we all are sitting in that room. It was crazy because I just opened the studio and my energy was hard to bring down. It opened my eyes to meditation and it’s changed my life from that day. I’m not kidding. I started meditating and now I do it every single day. If I don’t do it, it’s just because it’s not at our peak. That was the beginning of something for me. Thank you for opening up my eyes to something that I probably thought I couldn’t do at the time because my mind was crazy. From that day forward, you changed my life.
You changed every one of my children’s lives. You all have to know that my family has been involved in All About Dance and Jessica. First of all, for my daughter’s bat mitzvah, we all came to learn a dance. We did dance all together and she taught us. Tell everyone what my husband did for my 40th birthday.
He was the first of many interesting opportunities. He wanted to learn how to do this Saturday Night Fever dance perfection. He wanted to learn to a tee that dance for Karen’s birthday. He coming to me with this crazy idea was such an opportunity for me to deliver some happiness to him and to you. Eric would come to my studio with his daughter’s knee pads every day because he wanted to learn the up and down movement that John Travolta did and it was epic.
It was a surprise. You were at my birthday party and I remember seeing you. All of a sudden, the music started and I’m like, “What’s going on?” You’re like this dance mom on the side and then he starts dancing. It was amazing. Not only that, I went back to you because I wanted to learn the sexy dance.
You are the catapult to adulting. You become an adult and we’re all just children trying to figure out how to be adults. For you to understand, “I’ve been married. We have three kids. It’s not the same energy anymore.” For you to say, “I’m going to step it up and do something to reignite our sex lives or love life,” that is epic.
You know what happened. I told Jessica after. I thought I was so good. I put on the heels and I put the bow on. It wasn’t a striptease. It was just a sexy dance. I sat him down. I went over and I’m doing this little sexy dance. Jessica taught me to tap his head a little bit like, “Look at me.” I whacked him and he fell over the chair. That was the end of that. It’s so much fun.
You need to do it twice though. I think he liked it.
He did. He made me redo it. For my daughters, instilling confidence, taking them to dance class. They loved it and they felt so good going up on stage. You brought that out to so many people. I’m going to bring on the Featured Goddesses. One of them is Michelle and she would take dance classes with me. She’s going to start with some questions for you. She poured in your hairstyle.
It makes me want to put it up in those bubbles again.
Jessica, you’re such a ray of light and I had the best time. I’m wearing this because I wore it in your class so I felt like I needed to wear something bright and fun. Here I am. Jessica, speaking of bright and fun, you’re such a ray of light. My question to you is two–part. One, have you always been like that? Probably so, but I want to hear from you. Second, how do you carry that from day to day even if you’re not having a great day?
Thank you, Michelle. You are a ray of light as well. I remember you rocking it out in that sweatshirt in 2214 North Clark. I have always been this way. I was definitely born with a gene of optimism. It’s not always positive. It’s not always that I’m in the best mood. I feel that I listened to my intuition a lot. Over the years, sometimes it gets dulled because other people influence it, but I’ve always been keen on my intuition. I’ve always been vision-focused. When I was little, I would be like, “That’s what I want to do.” Someone would say, “That’s not possible.”
Intuitively, in my mind, I’m going to figure out the solution. It’s almost like a challenge to me. I was like, “That was fun.” Somehow I would negotiate my way or figure out how to make it happen. I look at the world where anything could be either a problem or it could be an inventive way for something new. It’s the way my mind works. I work hard at it. I have to continue to meditate. I try to fill my body with lots of green things. I also think it’s important to have fun every single day. That is something that my mom instilled in me.
This is a funny story but a few Thanksgivings ago, we went out on the table and said, “What did you want your kids to be when they grew up?” She said, “I wanted my kids to be fun.” We all started laughing. We were like, “What about education?” She always instilled that in us. It’s important for me that I jump on a trampoline, dance and laugh every day. No matter how hard life is, I try to find a way to have fun every single day.
Feature goddess Alyssa has boys and the boys can’t dance. Boys are dancers, but she didn’t go that dance route.Anything in life can be seen as a problem or an inventive way to make something new. Click To Tweet
My boys were not dancers. They’re grown, but I have to tell you my own little story throughout their childhood on weekends, talking to friends who were often the parents of my kids’ friends. It was like, “What are they doing?” I was like, “They’re going to All About Dance and have a dance competition.” I felt a little left out. I would see all the pictures and these girls look so beautiful. I didn’t get to be the dance mom, but they brought me joy in other ways. My question for you is, what was it about dance, in particular, you were following your fun all throughout your life. You said you started your dance career in the womb. What was it about dance in particular that drew you to it? My second question is can you tell us about your dance journey? How dance was part of your life growing up and as an adult before All About Dance started?
Thank you for saying that. It’s so wonderful to hear. You’re opening a business so you never know. Sometimes you make the right choices and sometimes you don’t. For parents and families that have been infected with the love that All About Dance has given, it’s so great to hear that you were able to be part of it, even if it wasn’t a part of your life. First question, what brought me to dance? It goes back to my mom. She grew up in a poor family and she always wanted to dance. She was the youngest of six kids, she never had her own outfit, tutu or anything. She couldn’t afford to go to a dance class. When she had me, I was her firstborn, it was her mission to find a dance studio that was all about dance, loving and good role models.
I remember her taking me literally to every studio in the vicinity of Milwaukee, Wauwatosa, and all throughout Wisconsin and she would watch. My mom was a loving person. She would never criticize but if it wasn’t the right fit, she would move on to the next one. We happened to fall upon the studio called Accent on Dance in Brookfield, Wisconsin, and my teachers were Miss Mary and Miss Kellie. Talked about role models, I would drool over being there. I wanted to be in their presence. You think about it now, it’s truly the role models who shaped children and it’s not always the parent. It’s somebody who ignites that fire in you and believes in you in a way in which you can’t even believe in yourself. I get chills even thinking about it.
I don’t remember the trophies I won. I don’t remember what place I came in. All I remember is that embrace when I got off the stage and the fun that I had with my teammates. It was truly beyond words. It was Miss Kellie. It was the person that believed in me and my parents did as well, but that’s what drew me to it and ignited it. My career started at Accent on Dance. I can tell you a funny story about myself and it’s something that I wasn’t able to tell a long time ago, but now I can get vulnerable. Michelle answers your question about how do you stay positive.
I went to a public school in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, and I was thinking about where I want to go to college. As a dancer, you can go to a college that teaches you concert dance. You can go the dance team route. There are several different options. You could try to get a scholarship at a good dance college. I wanted to go to one school. It was the University of Minnesota. They had the number one ranked dance team in the United States so I had my heart set on that. I wanted to dance all the time. When you’re on the dance team in college, you can dance at every game, you go to Nationals. You’re dancing all the time. It’s like a sport. You’re practicing three times a week with camaraderie and all of that.
I went to apply for the University of Minnesota. I went to a school and I did not have counselors or people that were helping me. I didn’t even have a computer. I applied with my janky pencil and paper and sent it in. To be clear, my grades were not as good as my dance moves. My ACT score wasn’t up to par. I sent it in. Two weeks or two months later, I got a letter in the mail. It was thin. It was, “You have been rejected from the University of Minnesota.” I was like, “That’s the only college I applied to.” I tucked that letter under my bed and didn’t tell my parents.
The next week, I had found out that they had dance team tryouts there. I said to my mom and dad, “Can we go to Minnesota? I’m going to audition for the dance team,” just in case I make it into college. We go up there, I audition for the dance team. There are 200 women. They are all good. Audition, audition, it’s day one, day two, and day three. I kept making it to the next round. Day three, you have to get up by yourself in Williams Arena and you have to do the dance. In the end, you do the rouser because you’re at the games so you have to do your college rouser. I remember thinking to myself, “I didn’t make it into the college. I better crush this.”
I remember thinking in my head, “Don’t spell it wrong.” I got up for my final audition, crushed the dance routine. I’m doing the rouser and I go, “MISSE,” and I’m like, “I’m spelling it wrong.” You saw everybody’s face in the crowd, but I never stopped and I kept going. I spelt Missesota with pride, I pose and I walked off that thing. I’m like, “Who knows where am I going to go from here? Tech college in Milwaukee?” I had no words. I get in the car, go back to the days in and sleepover
The next morning the list is out there and Jessica Swiggum is on the list. I make the team. I come home. I write a letter on loose-leaf paper, “Dear Mr. Dean of Minnesota, my name is Jessica Swiggum. I made your dance team. I did not get accepted into your college. I promise to be an amazing advocate for your school. I’m a team player.” I wish I still had the letter but I didn’t have a photocopier at the time. I send it to them. Two weeks later, I got a packet this big saying, “Welcome to the University of Minnesota.” That is a little peek into how I find a positive way to get through things in life. Quickly, from there, I danced on the dance team there. I was a Minnesota Vikings cheerleader for a couple of years. I moved to Chicago. I was a Chicago Lovable for a year and I opened All About Dance at the age of 24.
That is amazing and a testament to your drive and your willingness to put yourself out there and to not take no for an answer. The University of Missesota was lucky to get you. What a great story.
That is a great story, Jessica. I did not know that about you. You were so determined and resilient. I knew that that’s in you, but that’s such a great example. I know we talked about the sexy dance story, the 40th birthday story, and the bar mitzvah dances. What are other interesting dances where people came to you and said, “I want to learn.” What have you taught them?
I’ve had rockstars come to me and ask me how to jam out to ballads. I’m like, “I’ve never learned this, but we’re going to go for it.” I’ve had tons of wedding couples do the most amazing crazy wedding dances. We’ve done everything from salsa to people starting off with where they’re acting like they don’t know how to dance and they bust into a hip-hop dance. I’ve had a group or neighborhood come to me where everybody was in their 60’s and they wanted to learn how to strip dance for each other. I’ve done it all. When I opened All About Dance, I wanted to be able to teach everything. That’s why I worked at a ballroom studio for a year before I opened because I was only trained in the traditional forms. That gave me insight and now I can teach waltz and rumba.
I called you up when I had an audition for salsa and I told my agent. He said, “Do you know how to salsa?” I’m like, “Of course, I do.” I got it and I called you up and I’m like, “You have to teach me tonight. I’m coming to learn tonight,” and you taught me. I remember that.
There’s been a little bit of everything that has happened through All About Dance.
Hasn’t Lady Gaga come to your studio?
Lady Gaga was at my dance studio. That was a funny story. At the time, we had a spin studio within the studio, and that’s another thing. I love entrepreneurship. Reality came to me and said, “I want to open a spin studio.” I was like, “I’ve got a corner. Pop it in here for a little bit.” Lady Gaga was into spin at the time so she came and took a spin class. She was hanging out in the lobby and she goes, “Show me your dance classes.” It was the one time in my life where my dance brain shut off. Lady Gaga asked me. She was like, “Show me.” All of the sudden, I forgot how to dance. She’s like, “Cool.” That was fun.
Camille, you’re up.
I noticed on your website that you have, “Have Fun, Be Young, Dance Forever.” In what ways has dance helped you live by that testament?
That’s been the mantra from day one. We talked about the fact that All About Dance has infected kids with positive energy all over the city of Chicago. The adult program is near and dear to my heart because as adults we lose that zest or that piece of us that’s like, “I’m going to go do that and it doesn’t matter what that looks like?” We all become so critical of who we are and we think because we’re adults, we have to be so mature. Being mature means you’re not afraid to still be a kid. The Have Fun, Be Young Dance Forever, which is now the adult brand, we call it Dance Forever. We rebranded that whole brand because all about dance is a place where you truly have a chance to dance forever. It is a community of people that now you come back to and you do our cardio dance classes and it makes you feel alive again.
We don’t teach Zumba or jazzercise, we’re doing aerobics exercises. You’re learning a dance to music and you’re feeling how that moves your body. You don’t have to be a technical dancer to do it. You don’t have to be a trained dancer. All you have to be able to do is put yourself out there and follow along. The teacher is always dancing in front of you. They’re motivational fireflies who are there to spark your spirit. I can’t tell you how many times it happens on the daily that someone either pulls up their Zoom or comes up to you after class and says, “You made me feel like me again. I finally got to be in touch with myself.” Especially if you were a dancer growing up, and all of a sudden you’re like, “All I have is going to the gym to do this dance class.” You’re like, “My soul is not on fire,” and you come to Dance Forever and you’re like, “That is what I needed.” I bet you there’s so much that happens in your life that makes you feel young again because of that dance class.It’s so important to have fun every single day and smile every single day. Click To Tweet
That mantra is the cycle of life. You started as a one-year-old at the studio, and now you go through the company, you go through the cardio dance. You learn wedding dance. You can become a part of our Dance for Pros team where you’re a professional dancer without having the professional requirements of doing it as your full-time job. We have done it in a way in which everybody can stay there forever. The alumni community is so rich because they have so many memories. They’re all coming back to the dance floor. We have one woman who started with me when she was four years old and she’s now on our Dance for Pros team. She went to Yale University Dance. She’s now back in Chicago, and she’s dancing on our Dance for Pros, where they perform all over the city. It’s pretty incredible. I would love for all of you to show up on Zoom or in the studio. We now have in-person classes and give it a try because magic happens.
One of the things about Rachel, who’s up next is she dances and puts the music on loud. I heard that when you dance you do whatever the music is telling you to do. It’s one of your favorite things.
Absolutely. Jessica, I love your spirit and your energy. You feel like a soul sister to me. Everything is resonating. I love to dance. I dance in the car. I always have music playing and I dance. I have a whole dance routine as I’m emptying the dishwasher. When you say it’s in the womb, it is in my soul. I played the piano so music fills me up and I feel it. What I want to know about dance, I cannot follow dance moves. It’s the same thing in yoga. I can’t tell you what the next move is. I don’t remember it. It’s like there’s this muscle brain disconnect as much as I feel the music. I have looked all over for dance classes. I mostly see Zumba or adult dance classes where you have to learn scripted moves. Can I be successful in your class or not?
That’s up to you. It’s muscle memory that you have to commit to it. It’s not going to happen overnight. It’s like me learning tennis. I went into learning tennis thinking you hit it like a baseball, and not realizing you got to hit it like it’s coming to the net. In my first class, I was like, “I’m never going to get this,” but you’ve got to keep doing it. You got to keep at it. I’m sure Michelle and Karen can speak to this. I remember Michelle all the time would come in and be like, “I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’m having fun.” All of a sudden she had a breakthrough. She would be like, “I got it. Can we do it one more time?” Being in our classes and knowing that the teacher is constantly there, and the magic about Dance Forever and what makes our classes so different is that we cue. We’re always telling you what you’re doing four counts before what you’re doing. If I’m going here, I’m going like, “Give me your right hand, boom.” It’s not on the count. I’m telling you what you’re doing before you do it.
Let’s do something. Do a seated little thing and we’ll see if we can do it. Go ahead on the spot.
5, 6 arms go up on one. Take it down, two. Cross it, three. Out, four. Shake it, 5, 6, 7, 8. Give yourself a hug. Show your hips, and your eyes, and your thighs. You did it. It’s all about the cue. If you’re honing in on that and you let yourself meditate through it, you’re going to mess up. Sometimes I mess up all the time. There are times where I’m flying all over the place and I’m like, “I’m losing my mind.” That’s the best part. It’s when you feel free enough to lose your mind in classes. I’m saying that all the time, “Lose your mind, everybody. It’s time to lose your mind. Let it out.” That’s the thing about the community at the studio. No one even wants you to look perfect. You want to let yourself go. Sometimes you get the moves and sometimes you make your own. I’m not saying that you’re going to be perfect, but that’s not the goal. The goal is to let yourself out.
She starts off slow and teaches all the moves a bunch of times and then increases. There’s a super-fast one but it’s great. She then ends off slow. There’s also a little workout like an on the floor workout, which gets all the body parts.
We always say, “You’ve got to hump the disco ball first.”
Rachel’s going to try it.
Is there a studio for adults in Chicago?
Yeah. It’s called Dance Forever. If you look it up online, it’s Dance-Forever.com. It’s our adult brand. We launched it before all of this 2020 craziness happened. It’s a beautiful sanctuary. It feels like an escape. It doesn’t feel like a gym. The bathroom is beautiful. One of my good friends who own World Design designed the whole thing. When you walk in, there’s a disco ball that’s 30 feet. It’s huge. We turn the lights off and there are led colors all over the place. The lights are off.
We’re going to do it, Chicago peeps. We’re going to go. We’ll do a goddess night. Is anyone interested?
I’m so curious. What neighborhood? Where is it exactly?
It’s 501 West North Avenue. It’s on the cusp of Lincoln Park and Old Town.
Is it right next to All About Dance?
It’s in it. It’s on the third floor.
You moved to Nashville. Tell us about that.
It’s glorious. We are 6.5 hours away. You guys all know. As moms, if you get in the car for 6.5 hours, you’re like, “Thank you.” Podcast, meetings, and that’s where I take all my stuff. Scott and I travel back and forth. The reason we moved to Nashville is the weather. It was hailstorming in Chicago and we’re like, “Why are we doing this to ourselves?” We always felt because we were both entrepreneurs and owned companies there that we could never do it. We finally realized it’s been fifteen years that I’ve owned that studio. We have a good tight ship running it and I want to expand the brand. It is truly now that I have been unleashed and I am ready to take this next level. It is such goals that we have here. The people that work in the studio are all allies who are fully on a mission to change kids’ lives and continue to change adult lives as we teach dance as our portal.
What’s the next level? You were alluding to that.
There’s a lot in my docket. I have this compass here that always reminds me and points me to keep going in the direction where I want to go. The first thing I want to do is I want to revolutionize the way that dancers are treated in the industry. The reason All About Dance came about so quickly because I was taking classes and going to performances in Chicago and I was dancing for the Bulls. There was so much mistreatment of dancers. I always dealt with it, but it was the next level. From pay to looking a certain way, to how people even treated you as a human. It was depressing at the time because there was a lot of darkness going on in the Chicago dance industry. I was like, “We need to teach these kids that they can have fun.”
I started at the Latin camp so I was teaching boys and girls from all over the city. We were raising the roof and boys would come in there and they’d be like, “Who’s this? What’s this?” All of a sudden, Who Let the Dogs Out was going out and they were like, “Yeah.” I opened the studio because I wanted kids to feel like I don’t have to be a prima ballerina to be a dancer. I don’t have to be a certain look or a certain type. What I want to do next chapter is we have an initiative. Scott and I have formed a foundation called Beyond the Dance Floor. We are going to start raising money to create an entity for a dance company of adult dancers who that’s what they want to do for their career. They are able to make a decent wage and also get paid to perform.
People don’t know this, but dancers work their butts off at minimum wage and they don’t even get paid on the day of the performance because that’s the carrot. All dancers want to be on stage. Of course, you would do that for free. From this day forward, I want to change the way that is because I want dancers to be able to have careers because the discipline that dancers have is so amazing. You see how these people take care of themselves and they show up at work in such a different way than people that were not trained dancers.
That’s my first initiative. I want to create a dance company that treats dancers with love, respect and fairness. I want to open a National Dance Studio. I want to create a children’s on-demand channel for people to watch from anywhere if you want to take a 30-minute jazz class or a 25-minute stretch. My most favorite thing that I’m doing is being in Nashville has put me in touch with so many singers and songwriters. We have our nanny, our house manager, and everybody that is in the Goldman family now are all singers like rock stars, like Britney Spears type rockstar. It’s crazy.
They all have been out of work for so long because there’s no place to perform. We have bought all the rights to the songs like Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, ABCs, all of the children’s nursery rhymes, and we are going to create words that are positive affirmations within the songs rather than just Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes. For example, my first song is, “Heart, body, and my soul and my soul. Heart, body, and my soul and my soul. I see, I hear, I taste, I smell. Heart, body, and my soul and my soul.” We’re going to have this initiative to revolutionize the way that mommy and me classes are taught when you come in with a caregiver. The mom or the caregiver, and the student are not leaving with dance moves, but they’re leaving with like a candy array of affirmations that are so important for kids to hear on a daily basis and mothers, caregivers, and dads too. Those are some of the things that I’m working on.
That’s the thing with you. You always have a list and I love your compass. You go for it. You don’t just say, “I’m thinking about doing this.” You’re like, “I’m doing this and it’s going to happen.” It does eventually happen.
There’s a lot of people that tell me it can’t happen too.
It will happen for sure.
It’s like shedding layers. That’s been probably the hardest thing about growing up. When you truly shed those layers, and you know that it’s going to be a good thing.
Michelle, do you want to ask the roadblock question?
I think I remember this correctly but years ago, when I was living in Chicago, and we were taking dance from Jessica. Karen has a friend who is a rockstar named Peaches. Peaches asked Karen if she wanted to dance on stage when she came to Chicago and also to bring a friend. First of all, Karen asked me, and right away I said, “No, because I was terrified,” but then I realized, “I have to say yes. If I’m saying no, that means I have to say yes.” I was game. I’m not a good dancer and you know that Jessica. We go on stage and we’re all decked out and we look great but my knees are shaking and I was awful. To this day, I have not watched the video because I know it’s awful. All of a sudden, I was peeking at Karen and she was totally rocking out. She’s amazing. Karen told me later that she went to you and you helped her. If I remember this, Karen, I’m not sure I remember it correctly, but you helped her. I was so bad. Karen, you looked amazing. It was awesome.
You were great, Michelle. I did that twice for Peaches. The second time that I did it, Jessica was the other dancer. Did you know that?
She was like, “No, I’m not doing this.” I said, “Yes, you are. You’re doing it.” She’s like, “Okay.” She showed up. I looked over at her and she’s dancing it out. I know how you felt or at least how you thought you felt whenever looking over at her. It’s such a fun experience. Did you like that experience, Jessica? You were embarrassed. You weren’t sure.
Here’s the thing. I am a role model to many children in the Chicago area. I show up and Karen’s like, “I’ve got this cool gig. We’re going to do this.”I’m like, “Sweet. I’m in.” If Karen’s doing something, I’m like, “Yes.” I show up and she was like, “We’re wearing bras and underwear on stage.” I’m like, “Okay.” She’s like, “Let’s go.” She’s always, “Let’s do it.” I always think about the dads and the moms in the audience but yes, I loved the experience. Anything you’ve put me through Karen has always turned out to help me grow as a human and open my trajectory to new things. I’ve never regretted it.
That was a fun night. Rachel, you were going to ask about roadblocks?
You telling your story now I get a much better sense of how at 24 you could open up your own business. You alluded to it wasn’t a good working environment for you at the time. It’s so hard for people, true entrepreneurs to start a business, let alone at the age of 24. How were you in that space to accomplish that?
I have to thank my husband who was my boyfriend at the time for being my backbone and support system. He laid the floors, hung the bars, which would fall off the walls from time to time. Probably because of one of Karen’s kids pulling on them. To answer your question about a roadblock or something that was hard for me, two things come to mind. One, I do have this positivity optimism gene that always wants to find the bright side to everything. Opening a business, that hindered me a little bit because that turned into people-pleasing. I was a yes person. I didn’t want to make anybody mad. It took me some time to realize that making everybody happy, makes everybody mad.
I had to hone in on who I was and make sure that I was always being true to my integrity, knowing that I was always doing the right thing for the children and for the adults in the program. When other people wanted to naysay or try to change that, I had to develop that. You have to develop the choreography muscle. I had to develop that muscle in my brain. I did that through a lot of writing, therapy, friends and girlfriend trips. I always stayed connected with the people who would build me up.
The second roadblock that I felt was hard for me was when we moved from 2214 North Clark, which was a 1,800 square foot space. I call it the hole-in-the-wall dance studio. They barely had the lobby. I remember one time this woman yelled, she’s like, “Haven’t you made it to the point where you can give us a place to sit?” It was just a hole in the wall. We moved from that to a 15,000 square foot building. We went from two studios to eight studios. It was hard for me starting in that building to not touch and know every single person that walked through the doors. I went through probably a two-month dark period of like, “If I can’t touch everybody, I don’t want to do this.”
I went back to Minnesota where my core sisters are. I met them on the dance team. It’s five women including me. When I need somebody to kick my ass, I know where to go. I rented an apartment for a month in Minnesota and I immersed myself with them. I took a break. At the end of that month, they all looked at me and said, “Dust yourself off. Get up and go back and do what you’re meant to do in this world.” I needed to take a second away to know that I could do it. Since then, we’ve grown immensely. There have been tons of more roadblocks. There have been floods. There have been break-ins. There’s been COVID. There have been many obstacles, but I’ve turned them into opportunities.
You’re like a cat. You land on your feet. Talking about COVID, Alyssa has a question.
First of all, you’re the ultimate entrepreneur. There are a lot of dance studios in the world and that’s what they do, they teach dance probably to one group of people or one demographic. You’re touching people from birth to 60, 70-year-olds, and everything in between. Not to mention, all the other parts of the world of dance that you’re getting involved like between the foundation and all of these other things. In the songs, you’re even changing the words, which is amazing. I have to think that COVID probably forced you to stop and regroup a little bit and figure out how are you going to do something. Dance is a very in-person performance-based activity and now you’re on Zoom. How did you pivot the various aspects of your business to cope with what’s going on? How has it been? How are your dancers feeling about doing this in a Zoom format?
It was a challenging time. At first, you can all remember, we all went into quarantine and we were like, “We can handle this for a month.” It was another month and then it was another month. Especially with respect to the children, the Zoom fatigue is real. As adults, we get it. I can’t even imagine what their little brains are going through as they’re trying to develop who they are as humans and then, all of a sudden, they have this barrier. That’s been challenging to watch. I’ve taught classes before where you can see tears running down kid’s faces. I’ve done everything to become close with our alderman to try to work with getting kids back into the studio in any capacity.
We are back in the studio. We went into tier-one. Talk about the joy. It was 3:58 on a Monday when they made that announcement. I ran downstairs because I had gotten a call from my company director saying, “We’re back.” The kids who were on Zoom, the teachers went in and said, “You guys can come into the studio.” This little girl slammed her computer down and her dad zipped her over and her dad was like, “I have never seen my daughter more excited in her life.”
Mental health is like, “Whoa.” It’s shocking to me that our world has not been more in tune with like, “We got to get these kids back with humans.” For us too, adults are struggling as well. That has been hard because you want to support your staff and your clients with everything that they have in their life. You’re expecting these teachers to show up and be in a positive light when they’re seeing their darkest days. A lot of professional dancers, their careers have been shut off. They’ve had to pivot a million times thinking about, “Do I need to find a new career?” That part has been a huge struggle. I was thinking about what are these teachers and people need. We did a retreat where we brought in a therapist. We did some stuff on Black Lives Matter and how to start the initiative of creating more diversity. We did a communications thing. I’m trying to give more than dance training. It’s important that these teachers show up for themselves and they can show up for the kids. That’s one thing that I’ve done.Dust yourself off. Get up and go back and do what you're meant to do in this world. Click To Tweet
In 2020, I also bought my partner out. That’s been a new thing for me. I started the business on my own. When we went into the new building in 2013, I brought on a partner to help manage the business as a whole. We amicably decided that I was going to buy her out and she is no longer involved with the business. It’s been one of those moments where you don’t realize that you haven’t been completely in your own skin until something is shed. I felt like I was like a snake. I shed a layer and I was like, “Someone’s got to groove back.”
It’s given me a lot of confidence to move forward with many things that I was keeping on the back burner because it’s hard, in marriages and anything. When you got to always get the okay, you don’t always do everything you want to do. It’s been enlightening. I’ve gotten a lot of education on the aspects of the business that she was doing. That’s been great but also challenging because you’re delivering this message when teachers are already like, “How many more changes can we have?” It’s moving forward with confidence knowing that I’m always doing the best thing for the company and for everybody that works there.
It also has given us an opportunity. We wanted to create this on-demand channel for the adult program for a long time. We were being lazy about it. It’s like, “When we get to it, we’ll get to it.” Let me tell you about lighting a fire under someone and be like, “We got to do this by June.” There are two incredible humans were running the dance program, Megan and Julia, who hopefully, you guys will be able to take a class with one day. They are truly incredible souls who are carrying out that community that we started, Karen and Michelle, many years ago. They are still teaching some of the original gangsters that you dance with. We launched it in June. We got a ClickFunnels. We got a website. We’re selling our on-demand channel to people in Brazil, all over the country, all over the world. We’ve had some challenges and there have been some dark days.
I’ve played a dancer on TV a few times. I love dancing. I could have majored in dancing in college if I was willing to take a little extra time with it. Growing up, I wasn’t able to take dance much like yourself in that way. Because we moved around so much, I wasn’t able to stay somewhere long enough. I love that you’re doing this with Zoom so people like me can take classes like yours. With my daughter, I try to do the same thing, find a great class for her. I couldn’t find the right fit. Knowing that there’s somewhere where she can maybe find the perfect dance class for her on TV, it almost makes you think some of these challenges work out for the better. I’m curious, for the future, what do you see? You mentioned some of the charity things that you want to do as well. What would be your overall big goal for yourself and your future with your business?
The first thing that I see when you say that is there should be an All About Dance in every city. There should be access to it. If you see the kids that have graduated from our program and you see what they’re doing with their lives, it’s incredible. A woman comes to mind, Ali Katz. She is doing amazing things. She created an Instagram for positive news. You know all these people. I could list them. Ellie Bensinger is taking over the world. There are many alumni that are doing things in the world. I have a story about Ali Katz. She and I met in New York. I was there for a convention and she was there for work. She had her first year of college. We sit down for dinner. She was into the lots of love and the love and all the love stuff that you did. She’s like, “When I became a teenager, I was like whatever.” She goes, “I would have not gotten through my first year of college without that in my head.” I was like, “Yes.”
I would love for children all over the world to have access to the positivity that we infect in our classes. That’s the true magic about the studio. Give it to people that would not necessarily have it. With this Beyond the Dance Floor Foundation, what I want to do is first create this company that is giving professional dancers the ability to dance and make a professional salary that is reflective of how hard they work. The second is to amp up our financial aid program and take kids that don’t have role models in their home from all over the world and put them in touch with one of these professional dancers and have them be the Miss Kelly to that child. That is how we’re going to change the world, by bringing these dancers in, showing them that somebody believes in them, giving them access to the clothes that they need to dance, and the ride they need to get there. I’m like, “I want to do this now. I want to do it right though.”
We have a housing facility that is close to the studio that’s called Marshall Field Gardens. The teacher walks and picks up the children, brings them to the studio. They get to dance with these incredible teachers and then walk them home. We’re starting there. It’s starting small, but we want to change the world. We can. It’s not necessary to make everybody a professional dancer. That has nothing to do with it. Because of the studio, people are going to have more confidence. They’re going to believe in themselves. They’re going to be entrepreneurial. I also want to create a program where if a child wants to open a dance studio, I have a disco ball that I give them and it is full of all the things they need to do to open a studio down to how do you lease space. That piece is huge for me, especially with what happened. I’m not okay with it and I’m not going to say I’m not okay with it. What is the next step to do it?
You talked about doing something like Dancing with the Stars. You’re doing it with people who are adults. The real stars are those kids. If we can get in front of those things and we can dance with them and we’re doing a duet with them and that’s the show, that’s dancing with the real superstars. If you guys want to hear more about this or you want to be involved, please let me know because it’s something in the works. We’re in the process of getting our foundation accepted.
If our readers want to contact you about the various initiatives you have or the classes that you have running, how can they do that?
They can call me. I would love a phone call. Email, half of the time I couldn’t even see it. I’m like, “I forgot the email.”
What’s your number?
It’s 773-457-4869. Text me or call me. Don’t Facebook Messenger me because I probably won’t see it for two years. Calling or texting is always the best way to get in touch with me. I love to meet people in person. If you do want to email me, you can email me at [email protected].
If people want to take classes, go to All About Dance.
At your studio, you also can do birthday parties and special events. You’re open to that too. If you want to learn a wedding dance, you want to learn 40th birthday, you want to learn a striptease, everything.
The wedding dance thing is important to me because many people think that they have to go to a ballroom studio for a wedding dance. Don’t do it. You do not want to look like a ballroom dancer at your wedding. First and foremost, this is such a stereotype, but usually, it’s pulling teeth to get your fiance to go. We serve them a nice little scotch when they get there. We talk about what you want to do. We teach you in a way in which you learn how to move with each other. You don’t learn this clumsy ballroomy style dance. It is a ballroom–style but it’s not ballroomy if that makes sense. We can teach you in 1 to 2 lessons. You don’t need to spend your life savings on learning a wedding dance. That’s the last thing you need to be investing money in. We can teach it in 1 to 2 lessons if you want something simple. Some people like to get crazy. We will spend the time with you. We’re not here to waste your time. We are here to make you have fun with each other on your wedding day and not stress yourself out. You have it for the rest of your life. It’s a skill once you learn it and you learn the connective piece.
If you’re doing the head tap, do it lightly. Don’t knock your husband over. It ruins the mood.
We do bachelor parties. Our space is beautiful. You’d feel like you’re in a nightclub. You’re like, “What happened?” It’s incredible, so birthday parties, special events, girl’s nights out. We’re going to be doing a lot of different things as far as the recital. We’re going to change the way the recital is and make it more of a show so that when you come, you’re not just there watching your kid for three minutes dancing. You are watching a professional show that you’re like, “Oh my gosh.” We’re doing a lot of things a little bit differently. We’re elevating everything. It’s in the works. It’s not physically there yet but it’s manifesting.
It will happen. Don’t get rid of the dancepiration. At her show, she always has the kids talk about what’s your inspiration but what’s your dancepiration?
It has always been called dancepiration because our mission at the recital is to inspire everyone in the audience to do something that you love. It doesn’t mean you have to dance but to watch these kids and know that they are doing something that they love and see that joy and to influence you to then go and say, “Am I doing something I love every day?” We choose kids that embody all of our dance spirits. Every teacher gets to choose one. The student, whether they’re 3 or 33 gets to read their dancepiration of how their soul is ignited through dance.
We’re going to leave by dancing. I want everyone to sit in your chair and we are going to dance it out with Jessica. Thank you for joining us on Grateful Goddesses. Let’s dance. Thank you for coming. We love you, Jessica.
Welcome back to favorite things with Jessica Goldman on Grateful Goddesses. This is where we do an adult show and tell. Sometimes it’s related to the guest and the theme. Mine is the invitation to my 40th birthday party that I found. My husband superimposed his face onto John Travolta’s body. This was the invitation. It was a surprise party. He was very serious about people coming in ‘70s costume and talked about dancing and enjoying and what is the disco tech. Having fun wearing extravagant clothing of bright colors or little clothing at all, but we all wore clothes and we all danced it out. That was one of my favorite nights, seeing him dance like that with the kneepads. I think he actually twisted his ankle, but it’s all good. We’re going to continue on with Alyssa, what’s one of your favorite things?
One of my favorite things, especially now during COVID is a company that I found, my son told me about it, it’s called Goldbelly. It allows you to order to send to friends or family members food from all over the country. If you’re hankering for bagels and lox from your favorite New York deli, you can do that. If you have a bakery in LA, you can do that. My son who lives out of state, I sent him Chicago deep-dish pizza. All of the delicacies of that area, you can find online and it’s just growing. It feels like the number of options is endless. My mom sent me lobster from Maine. It’s very extravagant. She sent me lobster rolls, this yummy chowder, dessert. It’s sitting in my fridge. My husband gets to share it for dinner. I love this company because first of all, you’re supporting all of these restaurants. This is from McLoons Lobster Shack in Maine. I love supporting all of these restaurants and these businesses especially now, it’s so hard for everyone especially the restaurant business. I’ve been sending all over the country all of these Chicago delicacies to some of my friends who used to live here and don’t live here. It’s great. Goldbelly.com, I highly recommended.
I love to have that nice lobster dinner for your birthday.
Karen, I want to know, do you have a video of your husband doing that dance?
The person who took the video left the video in his car and his car was stolen. Don’t ask.
I have to interject. There is one thing that even makes the story funnier. Eric is doing the dance. Karen is sitting there in her goddess outfit. She looks so fabulous. He’s doing it and he blanks out. If you all met Eric, you know how he is. He gets up and he’s like, “Stop the music.” I’m like, “No, keep going.” He’s like, “Stop. Everybody stop.” Karen’s like, “Oh my God.” He’s like, “Rewind it” and starts over. It wasn’t even just that it was epic that he was doing it. He literally shut it down.
At first, I thought it was just dancing, but then when he did that and I looked over at you and you were in such a state like a dance mom. You’re doing the moves on the side with him. I knew something is going on. I found out that he had been going to see you. He could have been having an affair, I wouldn’t have known. He had been seeing you and telling me that he was working late. He’s been seeing you learning these moves. Anyways, Rachel.
Self-care is so important right now. I have this candle that brings me so much joy, Year of the Woman. My girlfriends gave it to me for my birthday. It’s funny because I always talk about essential oils. As you all know, my medicine cabinet is essential oils. I was super down on candles. When my friends gave me this candle I was like, “Don’t you know me better?” I then found out that soy candles are actually much healthier for you. The warmth of the flame and the scent is different than using my diffusers for the oils. I’ve been finding joy again in candles.
It’s not like the Gwyneth Paltrow Smell Like My Vagina candle.
That’s what I’m going to get for you.
Not smells like your vagina but her vagina. Okay, Michelle, you’re up.
I’ve been finding my joy or reconnecting with my joy and Jessica, I’m like you. I truly believe that I was born with that happy, joyful spirit, but I lost it along the way. I’m regaining it as a single woman. I love wearing this bracelet and it says “Loved” on it. In my dark days, I started wearing it. You know how when you wear jewelry, you wear it out so people can read it? I decided to wear it the other way so that when I look up, I can see it and remind myself that I’m loved. It actually was powerful for me. Who knew when I got the bracelet? I find it uplifting. I’ve been wearing it a lot. I’m gaining back my joy and love for myself and it’s a beautiful journey.
That’s so beautiful.
Michelle, we are soul sisters.
I love it.
That thought went through my head before as well, I was like, “You know what? I’m going to wear that towards me because I do love myself.”
That’s such a good thing to do. I’m going to do that too. You need to wear those messages towards you, for sure. Camille, what did you bring?
I absolutely love lip gloss. It’s my thing. I love buying lip glosses. I have to show you one of my favorite new lip glosses that I got. It is by Fenty which is by Rihanna and it’s called Hot Chocolate. I’m wearing it now, it’s easy breezy, I love it. It’s my favorite lip gloss.
I saw something with Rihanna. She’s doing lots of stuff like lingerie.
I went and saw her while I was pregnant with my daughter and I do not recommend it. It’s not very comfortable. It was very hard to dance around because I bought it way before I knew how uncomfortable being pregnant was. I was like seven months in May and it was outdoors in North Carolina’s humidity. I do not recommend it, but it was a great show. I just couldn’t move around as much as I thought when I was about 200 pounds.
I have to try that gloss. I’m still using the Hey Babe, which is one of the guests that we interviewed, the Maddie Babe, but that sounds fun. Jessica, what did you bring?
First of all, Rihanna is one of the most badass women that I’ve ever liked. I listened to a podcast with her and Oprah. She crushes that. It was so good. Listen to it. She’s so real. It’s amazing. Camille, I am actually looking at your lips like, “I got to ask her where she got her lip gloss,” because I am obsessed with lip gloss. Usually, when I’m teaching, I’m always wearing lipstick because I want the kids to be drawn to what I’m saying. Now we’re wearing masks I don’t do it very much anymore, but I love everything from a stick to a gloss. I love Laura Mercier and NARS. I love to make a big, plump lip.
Truly my favorite thing, Karen had that party a long time ago where we had our favorite things and I always like to give somebody else a token and be like, “These are the best lip pencils. I’ve tried them all. They don’t smear on your face. They’re so good.” Truly, my favorite thing that I have, I actually didn’t put my rings on, but my grandma gave me a mood ring a couple of days before she died. She died at 95 eating a cookie, took a breath and one day just fell asleep. She’s the one who gave me the positivity gene. She always taught me. I would call her and I’d be like, “Grandma, I’m so tired. The studio is this or it’s cold and rainy in Chicago.” She’d just say, “Jessica, the sun is always shining. Sometimes you just can’t see it.”
That’s so special.
I wear the mood ring, I usually put it on after my shower, but I was getting ready for this thing and so it’s sitting in my bathroom. It’s a rusty old mood ring, but it changes colors and it reminds me of her every time.
The disco ball, you got to hold up that disco ball again. Everyone needs a disco ball. We need a disco ball. Go get one and put it in your room and just dance. Everyone, have fun dancing and thank you for joining us, Jessica.
Thank you for having me.
Have a great day, and thank you for trusting me that night, all those years ago for the first Grateful Goddess night, which I will always be so grateful to you for.
I love you. I see you all and I love you all.
About Jessica Goldman
Jessica Goldman, the founder of Dance Forever, has been rocking it out since the ripe old age of three. She grew up in Wisconsin where she danced competitively at Accent on Dance Studios until she moved to Minnesota to dance on the nationally acclaimed University of Minnesota Varsity Dance Team.
After college, she danced professionally for the Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bulls. She opened All About Dance when she was 24 years old and has been infecting Chicago with her energetic dance classes ever since.
She has been inducted into the hall of Fame as a LuLu Lemon Ambassador and has most recently been voted the Class Pass Most Motivating Instructor in Chicago. She will rock your world and you will love every second on the dance floor with her.
Beyond the Dance Floor, Jessica lives in Nashville with her husband, Scott, 2 two daughters Juliette and Gabriella, and her loving dog Layla. She commutes back and forth to Chicago to keep her pulse in both cities as she aspires to launch Dance Forever & All About Dance Nashville in the near future!