We had the good fortune of connecting with Amy Ruth and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Amy, how does your business help the community?
Throughout my dance training, I was luckily trained under instructors that allowed me to be both a dancer & a choreographer simultaneously, as early as the age of 5 (which I found out later, wasn’t & still isn’t very normal). There is an almost universal separation between being a dancer vs being a choreographer. On the parallel, in the majority of “normal” dance classes, students are to follow, and rarely create or have a voice. CREATE exists and helps in that we care and we want everyone who walks through the door to not just be a dancer, but also be a creator. From the beginning, I started asking my students questions about what they wanted and what they felt was missing, constantly. The first group of dancers to join CREATE, told me weekly, they had been body-shamed, never given any freedom to dance to music they liked, put in costumes they didn’t feel comfortable in, and felt judged constantly. At that point the question I asked myself was if I continue teaching the way other studios wanted me to, could the freedom these dancers are meant to feel, vanish? Could I be moving them away from dance by not encouraging them to at least sometimes hold the paintbrush? It was at that point, I changed all of that. They began choosing their music. They picked out their costumes. They learned technique to benefit the development of their own choreography. As their instructor, I gave them the say-so they wanted in their art, just like my instructors did for me. It was also then when I realized how to develop dancers with genuine smiles on their faces, who were able to dance through the ups and downs of life, and because they owned the choreography, they WANTED to learn technique. Now, it is my strong belief that we should be training dancers in that they ARE choreographers. We as dance teachers should encourage all humans, no matter ethnicity, shape, or size, to dance to the music that helps them solve any issues they’re facing & train them to do so. Not only does it develop them as a dancer, but also helps them deal with so many things that come their way. (Our motto at CREATE, “leave your joys and your fears on the dance floor). I understand mental health exists in many groups of people other than dancers (But, honestly, aren’t we all dancers at heart?), I just know, if I can do my part by using my voice and my teaching platform to speak out for nearly millions of dancers in the world… it would hopefully move the needle a little bit, if not a lot, for the good of mental well being… and now potentially all around the globe – & especially as we now have the ability to teach anyone, anywhere.
Please tell us more about your business. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today business-wise. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
What sets CREATE apart from others is quite simple. We allow dance to be there for us creatively (in choreography development), mentally (in learning how to let it out on the dance floor), and physically (by correctly learning to condition and grow from where YOU are in multiple styles). On top of that, each of our learning experiences includes not only a dance instructor but a music & theatre instructor, as we feel those things should all work hand in hand as we are developing ourselves as performers. I am most excited in knowing we can now work with anyone, anywhere. Pre-covid, I never would have imagined “at arm’s length” could be Japan or Switzerland, and now it can be. I am also most proud of finally publishing two books (journals) for dancers and choreographers, in hopes to inspire finding the heart of dance again to anyone around the globe! As far as getting to where I am today professionally, I have to admit the road has been anything but easy. With that being said, I know how much I want CREATE to succeed because, with every single challenge, I have willingly worked, fought, and sacrificed more than I thought I had in me. Our story: Like many others, my parents chose to put my older sister and me in dance when we were very young. Luckily, they chose a studio whose owner gave her dancers freedom. She held an in-studio competition every year whereby we would select the music we danced to & the costume we would dance in (and as young as 6). At the time, I did not understand how the freedom of making those two decisions made my total experience in dance so much different from others. Essentially, having the freedom to make those decisions would also, later on, shape the philosophy of my first business and inspiration for my first two books, CREATE Dance Collection & CREATE Dance & Choreography Journal. I grew up loving music. I would spend nights listening to every genre, pencil in hand with my journal next to me, writing out how many dancers I saw in each performance, what they were to wear, which lyrics I loved, every single detail down to how they would wear their hair. I couldn’t sleep if I had music on because I would continue creating, in my self made, very large, bright pink, dance & choreography journal until the early hours of the morning. When asked as a 10-year-old child, “what do you want to be?” – my answer was the same every time… I wanted to be a choreographer & teach dance. Fast forward to 2009, I hopped in my car from North Carolina to California and achieved one of my lifelong goals – to instruct in multiple studios here in Los Angeles, & I did – for a little more than six years. Throughout my teaching career in LA, I did what was expected of me in each studio, but something was missing for my students. I couldn’t figure it out & felt defeated. I ended my last teaching contract, sold everything, and drove around the country by myself for a whole year, helping friends start businesses, trying out new states, new jobs, but ultimately feeling completely lost. Nearing the end of my year away from California, I met someone who asked, “why did you, as a child, fall in love with dance?” – because I was taught to CREATE to the music that I loved! Music that was mentally healing and moved me. Knowing I taught how other studios trained, I realized none of my students ever felt the same freedom I did. In instructing the technical, normal, dance class, I missed teaching the part that made me fall in love with dance! (& Of course, here’s where the lightbulb goes off.) My mind was made up, my students were in California, therefore, I drove back across the country. At this point, it was time to approach dance that made me never want to let it go… AND finally, make it my own. August of 2016, 10 of my previous students and I would start meeting for 4 hours each Sunday. They would choose their music & their costumes with a specific theme in mind. They would talk about the music they had chosen and how the dance they were doing helped them not just physically but also mentally. Before I knew it, CREATE Dance Collection turned into something even more significant. It was a safe place for all dancers to matter and to tell their stories. They were more excited to dance than ever, more technical, & were turning into the dancers I dreamed of developing. We brought back our love of dance because of our love and respect for music. Four years and 50 students later plus students around the globe virtually, we are CREATE. We just put our first signage on our first building and now hold ourselves accountable for training well-rounded performers. Kids, teens, adults, dancers, musicians, actors, of all shapes & sizes, come here to dig deeper. They come here to tell their stories and to leave their joys and their fears on the dance floor.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Since moving to California in 2010, being “tour guide” for friends and family has been so much fun, yet I always seem to have the same itinerary! Day 1: Drive over the crazy stacked bridges of Port of LA on the way to Queen Mary, and my favorite brewery Trademark Day 2: Spend a day in my little hometown bubble of Hermosa Beach, walking around, and popping into every restaurant to say hi to a decade of Hermosa Local Family – Eat at Fritto Misto (Get the lasagna!) – Stop by Playa Hermosa for the best seasoned scallops you’ll ever taste – order the Robert Dinero (a refreshing lemonade cocktail) Day 3: A day at Paradise Cove in Malibu for Coconut Shrimp after stopping at Malibu Country Mart to get a Cheerwine (which is from North Carolina!) Stop at one of many oceanfront restaurants on the way home for a sunset like no other Day 4: A quick walk around Hollywood Walk of Fame, climb the stairs to stardom to see the Hollywood Sign (Stop into Larry Edmunds Bookstore to find a one of a kind movie print from any decade), end the day at the Magic Castle in a fancy dress if you can figure out how to get an invite Day 5: Feel like you’re in Europe by going to Redondo Pier and popping into one of many dive bars after sitting outside and cracking fresh-caught crab in their outdoor market… keep driving south around Palos Verdes, find the glass chapel for one of the most breathtaking views and a very beautiful piece of architecture. Day 6: Stop into MB Creamery for one of the best “Creamwiches” you’ll ever have & hop on a sailboat for a sunset sail out of King Harbor Yacht Club Day 7: Stop at In & Out on the way to the airport because you were so busy, you ran out of time to try those famous burgers for the first time!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I am constantly telling my students to always give credit to those who sacrifice, inspire, and support them – so I love that your series delves into this part of success & now I get to dedicate this article to each of them, especially the original 10 who were there every Sunday for nearly 5 hours our first year. Further, the sacrifice in my life came from my parents, as well as the rest of my family, who did everything they could to make sure my sister and I were able to attend dance classes, even when finances were tough. My inspiration came from my instructors, Margie, Natalie, & Becky – they weren’t only my teachers but also my mentors. Knowing now that so many other dancers never have the same opportunity to hold their own paintbrush, I owe them every bit of recognition. I am so thankful you trained me to actually LOVE dance and never let it go. I have so much gratitude for how all of you cared for my development and gave me the freedom to create. Becky even flew from North Carolina to California to hand out trophies to my students at the end of their recital! I am ever so grateful. Last, although I feel I have so much support surrounding me now, my absolute best friend pushed me and saw what I was capable of YEARS before I did. He constantly pushes me, supports me daily, and has taught me more than I’ve ever given him credit for. I am grateful to even know him and so glad he pushed me to believe in myself.
KPS Photography CREATE Dance Photography