BEIRUT: From a quiet introvert to opening her own dance studio, the 25-year-old Lyne Gandour tells her story.
Growing up, her childhood passion was directed towards reading, drawing and studying. Her parents encouraged her to take extra-curricular activities so that she "wouldn't drown in her books" as Ghandour phrased it. En route to discovering dance, she still found time as a teenager to write "Au gré du Tournesol" in 2010, which was a top seller at Virgin Megastore for six consecutive months.
Ghandour stumbled upon dancing hazardously while rehearsing for the end of year show in her school and found the art of dance came naturally to her. She developed her formal dancing skills by attending several dance schools. She told Annahar what benefited her the most were the experiences she threw herself at, by never saying no to anything dance related.
From there, it was no turning back, she had become not only a dancer, but found that she was a teacher as well.
Ghandour started instructing dance by giving Hip Hop classes, and went on to eventually open her own dance studio "Dance by Lyne Gandour." Her studio has been open for less than a year now, and opening up her own space helped to expand her vision of working with dance students. She now has more members, more employees, and a more stable regimen.
"They say that business owners recruit employees to get the luxury of laying back a little, but the more I seemed to expand my team the more I seemed to want to give more. It just doesn't stop. My studio gets busier and busier by the day, and our services and activities just multiply as the year goes by," Ghandour told Annahar.
Opening her studio surely has its ups and downs. To her, the greatest accomplishment of all has been the feeling of finally being able to give back and that her studio is focused on her clients.
"It felt like such a milestone, after all the trust and love that I have been given in the earliest stage of my career, when my success was not even slightly guaranteed, I felt like I owed them this home, and being able to provide them with that just made me, and still makes me, feel like a winner," she said.
But, there is also the much broader responsibility of having a studio - which goes beyond offering services in a brochure -- where in reality she has been building a community and educating one. Her sense of perfectionism skyrocketed, propelled by the fact of always wanting to give more and more. She started to feel a sense of guilt whenever she was not present, she feels like she has to be part of every micro experience happening there.
Ghandour admitted to facing obstacles while establishing her studio. On a personal level, deciding whether or not to pursue this path has not been the easiest thing, she said
"Dancing is not the most prestigious title to have around here, and I know way too much to ignore the struggles of fellow choreographers to make it through. Luckily, I am a big believer. And one of my biggest struggles has worked in my biggest favor, and it is to educate your clients, members, and society, on what is meaningful to you, regardless of what surrounds you."
She educates her performance clients to appreciate the work they do and to stop assuming that a dance can be created in a couple of hours. She educates her team to take responsibility in each and every performed step and to love what they do and be fully in the moment. And she believes in educating society at large; and her social circle, that there is no shame in working hard, and no shame in choosing to go to work in the arts.
She receives all types of customers, from three-year-olds to the late 40s; from people knowing exactly what they are getting themselves into to people who just want to take on a new adventure in life. However, that common interest unites them all. "You can see a 10-year-old in the waiting area just having a deep talk with someone who is 25, and that's beautiful. You really forget about all types of labels, and the energy is just contagious," Ghandour said.
She strongly believes that the reason behind her success is respect. Whereby the young dancer and her team respect their members, and their choice to join them, and focus on people leaving the studio feeling a sense of accomplishment. This "little red box" as Ghandour calls it is a platform for people to grow and create new memories, and they document their work and share it on social media on daily basis. They're all about connecting with people, sharing their work, showing off their talented members and allowing them to experience dancing in all its spheres.
She also said that many people just give up on the first obstacle and she has educated herself well enough to know that every success story has had its ups and downs. "I see struggles as beautiful as victories, they just make you push harder." To her, it was so important to adopt a fighter's mentality and take each hit as a new challenge rather than a defeat. The key to her success also lies in the purpose, she focuses on how people use dance and how they can put out statements to express themselves.
"I like to think of this studio as a little factory for future (dance) leaders, as we focus on skills as much as we do on life values. It's never just about giving a class and leaving. Anyone can just come and teach you a couple of moves and leave. It's about offering our members a passion for keeping next to them for the rest of their lives, and for them to have the blessing that I consider myself to have had. We take this responsibility quite seriously," Ghandour said.
Things just happened naturally, in the sense that it there never a battle to fight, but more of a battle to win.
"I had always been so passionate and hardworking naturally, without expecting any single thing in return, I just did it for the love of it, and not with the perspective of gaining a future out of it," she added. the young dancer admitted that she did sacrifice a lot to get to where she is right now, but it was only because she could never have pictured it otherwise. She always felt so driven that she just couldn't just leave a couple of unclean moves behind to join her friends at dinner.
Ghandour told Annahar that, "Never in a million years could I have imagined that dancing would someday become my nest." Her love for it was so much stronger than just an athlete's thrill since it made her grow as a person, and taught her to embrace and proudly showcase her inner thoughts instead of internalizing them. Up until this day she still feels the same appreciation, it has become a part of her.
"I feel like it is something I own and that will never ever be taken away from me, no matter the circumstances," she added.
Annahar's "Faces of Lebanon" is an occasional series that takes a look at the talented young people who work, study, live and dream of a future in Lebanon. Ages range from 15 to 30. We encourage you nominating candidates and telling us their story. Send your nominations to Facesof.Lebanon@annahar.com.lb
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