We had the good fortune of connecting with Michelle Stroffolino and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Michelle, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
My goal in creating The Academy NYLA was to build a safe space for dancers to train and grow without comparison or shame. Training as a dancer provided me with so many life skills, resilience and self discipline, but dance culture is often a breeding ground for body image insecurities. The nature of this program, our teaching methods and ideologies work to give dancers the space to build healthy self esteem and a positive relationship with their bodies. Imagine a world where we are taught from an early age that we are enough as we are and grow from there.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
The Academy NYLA is a unique performance training model. All dancers begin in a private lesson setting, focusing on their strengths and areas for improvement. They cultivate self esteem, identifying what makes them unique and celebrating it. Then, they are introduced to group settings only when they feel confident and empowered by what they bring to the table.
Getting to this point with the business has been incredibly challenging. I started the program in the height of the pandemic and every curve ball imaginable has been thrown at me. It has been exhausting to constantly adapt to ebbs and flows of the restrictions, but I am so proud of how resilient we have been. From creating pop up dance studios in parking lots, rooftops, parks to having drive-in performances, we made it work with creativity and grit.
Along the way, I’ve learned that there is always a solution to any problem, you just have to want to find it. If something is calling you, you absolutely must go after it. The success and the money will come, but you have to fearlessly take action.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I am obsessed with the beach, so that would, of course, be the first stop! We’d have to stop by my favorite cafe in Malibu Le Cafe De La Plage and then explore the beaches there. If it’s a Sunday we would head over to the Melrose Trading Post or the Getty. To finish strong, we would have dinner at Castaway overlooking the city!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I dedicate my shoutout to my mentor Margaret. Since I was 12 years old, she saw my potential and passion for dance when no one else did. The way she took me under her wing and trained me in our private sessions was the inspiration behind creating the structure of The Academy NYLA. She invested her time and energy into developing my artistry and now I strive to create that same space for my students.
Other: Instagram: @theacademy_nyla