Getting To Know Nanci Grasso, Founder of Dance Workshop New York

As you’re casually walking down Lexington Avenue on your way to Bloomingdales, it’s likely you’ve walked passed the beautiful windows of a brownstone with black and white striped shades that peak inside the all-white interior. That charming space? That’s Dance Workshop New York. It’s a high-end dance boutique catering to kids of all ages and was co-founded by Nanci Grasso. What’s unique about the dance studio is that it is the second location to the family-run business that has been operating since 1978 when Nanci’s mother, MaryAnn, opened the first studio on Long Island.

We had a chance recently to sit down with Nanci to get to know her a little bit better and to learn more about the positive lessons dance instills.

You’ve been dancing for over 30-years, how did you get started?
Dancing was not something I ever thought about doing.  I just danced.  If I wasn’t taking a class, I was watching a class.  I was raised in my mom’s dance studio and loved every aspect of our business.

Your mom co-owns Dance Workshop- how did she decide to establish a career in dance?
My mom danced from a little girl.  When her passion really grew as a pre-teen she began to work at a studio to barter for lessons.  She wanted to dance professionally.  As it turned out, she was a great business woman and opened Dance Workshop at 21 years old.  Her true calling was as a teacher and entrepreneur.

You went to FIT for fashion, what made you come back to the studio?
I have always been emotionally invested in our family business.  When I realized there were things I could offer the business upon graduating FIT I was eager to get involved in a bigger way.  My passion and purpose in dance grew quickly.  I was still able to be creative and didn’t miss working in fashion.

What is the most rewarding part about teaching dance?
The little successes on a weekly basis are super rewarding.  The small things add up to a well put together dancer over time.  Watching young dancers evolve is so exciting.

Aside from the physical aspects, do you see any other lessons dancing instills in individuals?
Dancing gives us the freedom to express ourselves without the use of words.  The body is used as a vehicle to evoke emotion both in us and an audience.  It teaches us how to connect in a deeper way and expose our inner being with great confidence.  It’s such gift to be able to project and communicate with others effectively.  I believe dance really instills this in even the youngest dancer.

As a dance teacher, what do you find beautiful about dancing? 
I find it beautiful to watch a dancer connect with a piece of music and truly bare their soul.  It’s so raw and that connection can’t be taught, but found from within.

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