Founder and Director of dance company Body Politic, Emma-Jane Greig, opens up about her fears of going it alone, her passion for providing opportunities for young people and the roller-coaster ride that is running her own business.
Body Politic specialises in hosting urban dance classes, workshops and events with some of the most influential and talented urban dance artists from within the UK and Internationally. We work with individuals from all backgrounds and ages to improve self-confidence and self-esteem through dance. Most importantly, it’s a company with purpose and passion at its heart.
For me dance has always been about the way that it made me feel. It’s always been a way of escaping everyday stresses, being creative and ultimately, making me feel good. With age and experience, I learned that this ‘feel good’ feeling was shared by others. More importantly, I learned that I could help create this ‘feeling’ for others.
After graduating from university I was employed for an Oxfordshire County Council to run a project called On Course. My role worked with vulnerable and hard to reach young people who were at risk of exclusion from school. I witnessed first hand the positive impact dance could have, for a lot of the young people this was their first time that they were really succeeding at something. My morals and values have always been rooted in helping others. I was passionate about providing incredible opportunities for young developing dancers that would enable them to grow and develop and so Body Politic was born!
There are a lot of perks! I could start with the stereotypical ‘being your own boss’ and ‘managing your own workload’. However, I think that fundamentally the biggest perk is that I am providing a platform of opportunities, which enrich and impact the lives of others. With every class that I teach, workshop I host or training programme that I successfully run I am creating moments and memories for young developing dancers.
Aside from the financial strain of running a business in an already heavily saturated industry, I think truthfully my biggest challenge is fear. Fear played such a huge part in the journey of Body Politic and if I’m completely honest it still does. Fear of making mistakes, fear of what other people are saying about me, fear of things failing.
Running a business is a bit like riding a rollercoaster. There are moments when you feel untouchable, and other moments when you feel like you’re at rock bottom. However, amongst the whirl-wind of emotions is the scaffolding and structure of the ride keeping you focused. For me that scaffolding has always been the purpose behind my business.
I’ve learned that as dancers, we are conditioned not to trust one another. We are encouraged to work independently and not allow others to know of our struggles, failures and mistakes. However, what we are failing to grasp is that we are strongest and most creative when we are collaborating and sharing our passion with others. However, in order to collaborate it takes trust, and in order to trust it means showing your vulnerability.
Over the past two years Body Politic has had some incredible achievements. We organised and delivered Justin Bieber’s UK Believe Tour workshops, have hosted numerous International choreographers from the US, produced multiple showcases in professional venues and more recently have just received our first Arts Council England Funding and have been commissioned by MINI Plant Oxford.
As a business you have to constantly be thinking of the next step. My goal has always been to own a studio space in central London so that the company can have a home and a base to grow and flourish from. We are constantly hiring other people’s studios to run our events and with that comes a lot of restrictions.
My viewpoint on running a business has changed dramatically over the past two years. It’s not about wearing a smart suit and carrying a briefcase, it’s about creating something of value that others want to invest their time, energy and passion into. I think that if you can do that and stay true to the purpose behind your business, the rest will follow.
A big thanks to Emma-Jane for sharing her story with us. Visit Body Politic if you want to learn more!