Many of the lessons Elaine Kapogines learned as a dancer have impacted her as an entrepreneur. (Courtesy Elaine Kapogines)
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Ballet and business: how one helped shaped the other for this entrepreneur

Pliés, pirouettes and grande jetés are all moves Elaine Kapogines, owner of Wiltshire Media and publisher of The Holistic Parent magazine, learned during her early years of dance training. Dance took centre stage when she was a child.

“I basically grew up in [a] dance studio,” she says. It was that experience that made her want to have her own business.

“Ninety-nine per cent of the people I was working with were female,” she says. “A lot of the studio owners would bring their kids to work.” Kapogines remembers wanting to be a dance teacher when she was young, and in high school that dream pivoted to owning a studio. “I always knew I was going to own my own business. A lot of that was because I saw these very successful females running their own businesses.”

Her time spent at the barre didn’t just inspire Kapogines, it ingrained the skills she needed to succeed in business and life. Self-reliance, persistence and the fact that success only comes when the basics have been mastered. Dance — especially ballet — is all about foundation.

“You can’t do a double pirouette until you can do a single,” she says. “My approach to business is that I want to do one thing really well and then once I have that, I can start looking to grow things. That has come from my mentality as a dancer. You have to have the basics before you can do the tricks.”

Kapogines explains herself as the ultimate a sole-proprietor. She has a few subcontractors, but outsources very little — and she likes it this way.

Head and shoulders photo of Elaine today, smiling, wearing glasses.
Elaine Kapogines today. (Photo credit: Jennifer Lyon Photography)

“In dance, we always train together but it’s a very personal venture. It’s 100 per cent up to you. I know that this independence and the work ethic that has to go along with [being an entrepreneur] comes directly from my dance experience.”

In high school, Kapogines was in the studio three or four nights a week, for two to three hours. Maintaining this schedule while keeping up with her school work required her to hone her time-management skills. Now, as a mother of two young kids and a business owner, Kapogines strives to have a balanced yet flexible schedule. She is thankful that she learned such important skills at a young age, especially if she wants to fit in her own dance classes on top of her work and family life.

Although her time in a studio is limited to about an hour a week now, Kapogines laughs that actual dance is still part of every day for her — be it standing on a single leg while she works at her computer or doing leaps across her living room.

Although ballet and magazine publishing may seem worlds apart, for her the overlap is obvious.

“When you get on stage as a dancer, there is nobody out there to help you,” she says. “You need to rely on yourself. As an entrepreneur you need to be confident in your skills to do ‘the performance’.”