Anna Botelho started playing violin at age 4, pursued a degree in music and English, but when she found herself really needing to force herself to practice music, but running off to do choreography and rehearse with a dance troupe, she realized something had to change.
What did Anna do? She sat down with a few local dance teachers and asked how do you make a living dancing in the San Francisco Bay Area?
At the start of our conversation you’ll hear a few reasons why this is a great place to do just that, and how Anna used her pragmatic thinking to get Google to guild a dance studio right on campus!
As Anna put it:
I feel like there is this hole between the desire to create what fulfills an artist’s true heart and spirit and vision, and creating something to meet someone else’s needs. Those are both wonderful things. And I think being in the “entertainer” vein of “I’m creating something specifically to meet someone’s needs” — that can be a beautiful thing. But I think one should go into the creative process acknowledging which of those two things one is doing. And they might overlap at times, or they might not.
Anna is also nothing if not curious. She uses her curiosity to learn about what people want to get out of her classes — because people come to dance classes with very different agendas.
Some people want to learn to dance (duh!), while others want to learn to talk to girls, or simply get comfortable on the dance floor at a club or at a party.
Using the information that she learns by taking an extra five or ten minutes before or after class to talk with students, Anna develops classes that people really want. Like “How to Dance at a Club or Party: An Analytical Approach,” where she had slides and flowcharts, and broke down everything exactly as an engineer might want to know it!
Developing dance classes is not all that Anna does, however. To hear the rest, have a listen to our conversation and let me know what resonates most with you.
Where to find Anna:
Anna was born in Rye, New York but raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. Growing up in Palo Alto she began studying music and dance at age 4, ranging from violin and voice to musical theater and world dance. Anna double majored in English and Music at Yale University – intending to become an orchestral and choral conductor. However, she fell in love with dance, and has been an avid performer, teacher, and choreographer ever since.
In 2009 Anna proposed to Google that they build a dance studio inside the Google headquarters in Mt. View, CA. After much hard work, the studio opened on January 10, 2010 with 14 classes per week. Within a year, the classes grew to 26 per week, in such diverse styles as ballet, breakdancing, Bhangra, and ballroom.
Under Anna’s management, 1 in 10 Googlers at the time utilized the Google “Danceplex.” Anna enjoyed created a “data driven” dance program that sought to fully understand clients and deliver to their true needs instead of surface asks. By completing user research, Anna uncovered unmet needs and created curriculum to match, such as the hugely popular “How to Dance at a Club or Party: An Analytical Approach” that includes powerpoint slides and a flowchart.
As the Danceplex manager, Anna managed marketing, branding, HR, personnel and program management, and metrics to grow the “start up” inside Google.
Anna has now grown the program into a more comprehensive GoogleArts program that encompasses all visual and performing arts programs on campus for Googlers. Anna creates easily accessible programming for the Googlers to inspire their creativity and accelerate their innovation.
When not working or dancing, Anna enjoys spending time with her husband, two daughters, family, and friends.
Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise-Canceling Headphones (aff) (Tip: buy them at a local Bose store and you can return or exchange for 30 days!)
Want a creative kick start?
Check out my book!
What would change for you if you could totally revel in the joy of creating? You CAN, with The Creative Sandbox Way!
- Melissa’s 10 fool-proof guideposts that have helped thousands get joyfully creating.
- 5 reasons why creative play is good for you, AND for the world (it’s neuroscience, baby!)
- Why “I’m not creative” is always a lie, and how to bust it.
- How to turn creative blocks into friends.
AND you’ll get creating right in the book itself.
“It’s one part field guide, one part creative practice—and I loved it. The Creative Sandbox Way is an adventure packaged as a book.”
NYT best-selling author of The Happiness of Pursuit and The $100 Startup
Hear ye, hear ye! This is to serve as official notice that all links to anything for sale, be it books or courses, are likely to be affiliate links. What this means is that if you click through said links and make a purchase, although it won’t affect the price that you pay, a few coins will jangle into my coffers, enabling me to buy a packet of hard gluten-free biscuits to feed myself and my husband for another day, or perhaps a pen with which to create some artwork. Or perhaps they will contribute toward paying a fraction of my web hosting bill, so that this blog and podcast can continue to exist. Thank you kindly for your attention.
Thanks for Listening!
Thanks so much for joining me this week. Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below!
If you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the bottom of the post.
Also, please leave an honest review for Live Creative Now on Tunes!
If you’d also like your voice to be heard on the show, leave your question as a voice message right here.
And finally, don’t forget to subscribe to the show on iTunes to get automatic updates.
Now go get creating!
PS — Pssst! Know someone who might benefit from seeing this today? Pass it on!