What happens when two professional dancers from Arizona fall in love and decide to start a family? For Ryan and Larisa Eronemo, the answer was a move to Sammamish to launch a business — Glass House Dance studio.
That move happened four “dance seasons ago” — in 2015 — said Ryan Eronemo, the studio’s business manager. The school serves youth, ages 2 to 18, teaching jazz, ballet, hip-hop, contemporary dance, acrobatics, and choreography.
“We’ve experienced an exponential amount of growth in our first four years,” said Larisa Eronemo, the studio’s artistic director. “It always felt manageable, but we would never have expected by year two, we would hit our six-year optimistic growth rate.”
“We knew how we wanted to roll things out, but scaling became interesting,” Ryan said. “We ended up giving up our office to create a fourth studio, and then storage became an issue.” Additionally, he said the growth pace disrupted efforts to implement policy. “We do a lot of things different, which is fine, but with exploding growth it was hard to manage how to scale those things, with staff and clientele who were used to traditional practices.”
“There’s a lot of ‘group-think’ in our industry,” Larisa said. “As much creativity as there is, in terms of how things are structured, people usually carry forward the things they know.”
The Eronemos wanted to switch it up, so one of their first changes was reformatting the recital. “I taught for 15 years, and the parents and family members always dreaded being locked inside a theater for three-hour dance recitals,” Larisa said.
“If we could do anything,” Ryan chimed in, “we wanted it to be something that would make it more fun and an event where everybody was super excited to be part of it.”
The first year, recital day was small and held inside. The Eronemos opened it up to the public and kept their vision on the bigger dream. The next year, it moved to the Sammamish Commons with a full-day agenda, including six hours of dance performances, bounce houses, and more. By year three, more than 4,000 people participated.
Switching from a nine-month season, with specialized summer classes, to a full-year season was another recent business change. Ryan said the studio’s culture is unique and based on a, “leading by love” principle that is focused on how to impact students in, “a positive way that can be taught through dance and they can take through the rest of life,” he said.
Glass House Dance has been featured in several prestigious dance publications over the years and the Eronemos feel they’ve learned many lessons along the way. “Owning a business teaches you a lot about yourself,” Larisa said.
“We touch base on everything and plan together, then divide and conquer,” Ryan added. “We have two different ways of processing info, but we’re married, and that allows us to dig down and operate on a more intimate level to resolve whatever challenges we face.”