Words by Tracey C. Velt | Photos by Jessica Friend
Hannah Harshman is no stranger to dance. “My mom put me in dance class when I was 3 years old,” says Hannah, artistic director and owner of Dance 360 Orlando in Baldwin Park. “It started as a summer activity to keep me busy, and I’ve been dancing ever since. I even went to an arts high school in Lexington, Kentucky, where I danced for hours every day,” she says. In fact, by the age of 15, Hannah had already decided she wanted to make a career out of dancing. “I realized that I love to teach and choreograph,” she says.
So, in the summer of 2014, Hannah founded Dance 360 (dance360orlando.com) in Baldwin Park. At the time, she had one son, Shwyer (4). “Three months into construction, I found out I was pregnant with my second son, Shepherd (2). Dancing competitively taught me time management and how to find balance. I tapped into those resources!”
Both of Hannah’s sons are dancing. “We have a program called Twos in Tutus and a creative dance program geared toward dancers ages 3 to 5,” she says. Dance 360 has a unique curriculum for the younger dancers that allows them to learn to follow directions and work as a group. “Of our staff of 12 teachers, four of them teach the younger children,” she says.
Like most moms, Hannah finds it difficult to balance work and family; however, she has built a culture at Dance 360 that encourages everyone to put family first. “I am a mom first and a business owner second,” she says. “If I have a child who is sick, I’m staying home. If I keep that mindset, everything falls in place.”
She also notes that it takes a village at home to manage a business and two small children. “My husband, Brian, has been so supportive,” says Hannah, who notes that her mom, Jolynn, works as her office manager. “You can’t do everything. I’m a Type A personality, and delegating is hard, but I’ve had to learn that I can’t do it all myself,” she laughs.
Right now, Dance 360 is thriving. “We’ve expanded so quickly and have about 300 students registered (at the time of the interview, registration was still open),” she says. “We’re quickly outgrowing our space and are looking for a new space in the same neighborhood. It’s been exciting to watch,” she says.
“What sets us apart is that we have something for everyone — that’s what the 360 stands for. We offer all different styles for the casual or serious dancer, including musical theater,” she says. The studio is also the only Dance Masters of America studio in Central Florida.
With boundless energy, a clear vision and a passion for dance, Hannah is excited about building on the foundation she started.