Svetlana is a 51-year-old Russian dancer who moved to the United States in 1991 and had a son soon after. After years struggling as a single mother and recent immigrant, she turned to her 20-plus years of dance experience for economic stability. “The first expression that I learned to say in English was ‘there are not too many things that I’m good at, but I can dance and I can teach people how to dance.’ ”
In 2007, Svetlana opened her own business, “Stars in the Light”, as a dance studio without a home. She would travel to childcare facilities with her dance equipment: leotards, ballet bars, and a music player. Having successfully built up her clientele and firmly established herself as a sought-after dance instructor over the course of two years, Svetlana began renting space in a dance studio in 2009. She runs “Stars in the Light” as a non-profit dance education center, recalling the pivotal role dance played in her childhood and the government scholarship she received as a young girl to learn ballet. “I teach dance to all children who want to learn, no matter what price their parents can pay.”
Along with a strong social mission, Svetlana has also managed to launch a financially sound business: she now employs two dance instructors and her business income continues to rise. She needs a $5,000 loan to pay for for her dance studio setup and equipment. Her “American” son, now a teenager, has been her biggest support, and took the photo of her above.
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