We had the good fortune of connecting with Nykisha Banks and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nykisha, what is the most important factor behind your success?
I actually believe I have more than one important factor! One of them is honesty. Not telling the truth, and/or not doing what you say you’re going to do can cause a horrible morale drop in your studio. No matter how I speak about accountability (even wrote a book about it for dancers), I will be placed on a higher accountability step than anyone else that must be held accountable. Dancers are children first. I wouldn’t ever tell a dancer that they will get a reward for something that I know I cannot do for them or simply say something out of a happy emotional place and not come through with it. Speaking of accountability, this is my second important factor behind the success of our brand. From setting the example of showing up on time, anti-bullying policies, to proper class attire. Everyone is responsible for arriving on time and in their proper class attire for their classes and genre. We don’t allow dancers to assume that they can arrive incorrectly and be okay with hunching their shoulders about it. I most definitely appreciate another studio in the same state that privately messaged me asking how I keep everyone so well kept and disciplined. I want everyone to see us and be reminded that we are a no gossip zone (we do not brand ourselves against each other and other dance studios), anti-bully zone (all teachers, staff, students, and parents must abide by this policy, no exceptions), cleanliness & proper class attire (grace is usually given when something is out of the control of the dancer/parent), however, simply arriving out of order is not a life lesson I want branded and embed in their future professions.
Dance Education is a huge factor. I want every dancer to feel confident in their training. I want every conversation with mom or dad to be one of positivity, excitement, and to be able to express, show, and explain what they’ve learned. I want every parent to feel the excitement that their child feels. I want them to know that their tuition is well spent. I want them to trust that any form of discipline, if necessary, would be one of respect, class, love, and is most definitely an appreciation of how something may need to be addressed (if necessary). Success in terms of a disciplinary point of action is listening intently to both sides. If a dancer is extremely sensitive, their sensitivity may overpower what really happened, causing explosive emotions at home.
Success in what others may acknowledge as small, creates big wins for us! I love my entire dance family and I hope they love me just as much.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Empowering the resiliency of the next generation is my ultimate thumbprint. Dance is the avenue that’s used and I’m most excited and proud in knowing that I’m trusted to instill valuable life lessons. Every leader in this industry has their own niche when it comes to the training and development of their dancers. What sets me apart is finding my own edge in paying strong attention to not only the details, but causes and effects of getting the best results from my dancers. After spending so many years working in Corporate America after college, I’ve always wanted to make a career out of something that made hard work feel more rewarding, and fruitful. No matter where I’ve worked, my evenings were always for my first love of teaching dance. I’ve rushed and driven long distances in traffic for it. I’ve skipped meals to be on time. I’ve even done it for free. I’ve also done right by everyone that I’ve met in the industry, even behind closed doors when there was no one to impress, while others weren’t so nice. At one point in my life, these were exhausting sacrifices that I’ve once regretted, however I must admit that the discomfort in it all has successfully propelled me to where I am professionally.
Life lessons learned along the way, whether through personal experience, the experience of others in the dance industry, or even Corporate America, is having an understanding that discomfort may be the new comfortable at times and also that gaining respect, honesty, trust, and a great reputation is more valuable than any unethical or immoral act for gain.
I remember hearing another studio owner say to someone else, she’s so wrapped up in her girls. That is simply untrue. I am not a worshipper of any earthly vessel. What I want the world to know is that the atmosphere that I’m known to present in any classes taught isn’t only a disciplined and fun one, but one of self-care that promotes and instills a lifelong appreciation for quality dance education, and building oneself through the art of technique. It’s an atmosphere also set up to develop honorable adults in our society even if dance isn’t their chosen profession.
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.
Well, New Orleans is where I was born, raised, and frequent. So, we would enjoy lots of Cajun cuisine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We would find someplace to listen to poetry, see a play, and something in the arts. I am also someone who loves to stay home so we would make time to enjoy one another’s company and laugh all night! We would also grab my family and go bowling and have a Crawfish Boil/BBQ. Being friends with me awards you the simple most peaceful things in life.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
As a published author, I would like to dedicate this Shout Out Series to my book, "A Dancer's Leap into Accountability." Not only has it encouraged accountability for dancers, it reminds me to remain accountable for my actions as a business owner & instructor.
I would love to dedicate this Shout Out Series to every dancer that I’ve had the privilege to instruct over the past 20 years. Shout out to the tiny tots that showed huge excitement when they mastered their plie’ in first position without stumbling over for the first time. Shout out to the dancers that trained & fought with all that they had and went on to win the biggest of championships. Shout out to the advanced dancers that are now dancing with the most prominent organizations. And shout out to the dancers that made me face the hardest parts of myself when persevering through adversity. Because of your zeal, love for the art, embracing accountability, challenges, and most importantly doing the work, I’ve become a better me. I’ve become a better leader, a better trainer, a better winner, a better fighter, and all together better at knowing what joy truly is!
Photographer by Bricen