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Stepping Out on Faith: A conversation with Susan McGhee

Ballarina Dancers

I understand that you are an entrepreneur. What is your business and what inspired you to go into business for yourself?

I went to Spelman and studied political science. I decided not to go straight to law school after college and instead work in the industry for a while. While holding a position at a law firm as a paralegal, I would still teach dance at night. I realized I’d almost always rather be dancing. My heart was with dance and I knew that if I did something I love and have a passion for I’d be good at it. So I decided to step out on faith and open my own dance school. Ultimately, you will be happier doing something you have a passion for than you will be with money.

What are some of the challenges of being an entrepreneur?

Well one of the biggest challenges is having to do everything pertaining to the business that your staff cant. Another challenge to owning your own business is that work does not end at 5 like it would when you’re working for someone else. Work often comes home with you. You work more than you would for someone else – often longer and harder as well.

What are some of the things you enjoy most about being in business for yourself?

On the flip side, I enjoy having flexibility to take time off without having to worry about getting approval from someone else. Also, owning a business just makes me happy because I’m able to pursue my passions and build my dreams. 

Can you talk about your experience as a dance instructor? How long have you been dancing and how long have you been teaching dance?

I began dancing at age 3 and stuck with it throughout life. I began teaching dance while I was in college. I had a two-hour break between classes and would often visit underprivileged areas around Spellman and teach for free. I really enjoyed that and began teaching at church and eventually opened my own school at age 21. We’ve been in business for 18 years now.

What is it about dancing that you love and inspired you to want to teach others?

I love dance. I think the freedom of movement is uplifting. If I’m sad and I begin dancing, I’m happy again. The movement inspires me and I’m happiest when I’m dancing. I wanted to share that freedom with others.

I understand you’re also a liturgical dancer. How does this activity inspire you as a dance instructor?

Liturgical dancing is totally different. It’s the same on the technical side but when I’m doing liturgical dance, I’m dancing for God - for Him, His kingdom and His people. I always ask God to use my body to speak to his people and glorify what he does for others. I use liturgical dance to speak to people and inspire them. The music is also different. The words are so meaningful.

How do you feel like liturgical dancing really contributes to praise and worship?

Liturgical dancing is a way for me to give thanks to God for all that he has done. It allows me to use my body as a temple and instrument to demonstrate how awesome and wonderful he is. In doing this, I also hope to use my body to speak to the congregation. I hope people are healed and happy when they witness the gifts he’s given me.

Can you talk a little about your experience working with Shazzy Fitness?

Working with the other dancers, the instructors, and especially Kristy is an amazing experience. Kristy is truly a wonderful person and her vision is amazing. My father just passed away in February and I remember I was on set when I got the call that he was having trouble breathing. Everyone stopped to pray with me and continued to check on him until his passing. Everyone has been so wonderful and its like we’re a family. We are not just people who danced together and went our separate ways. We are there for each other and it’s wonderful to have that family.

How do you feel Shazzy Fitness likens to liturgical dancing? In what way is it similar? Different?

With liturgical dancing, everyone kind of expects slow movements and music. With Shazzy, it’s nice to be able to do fast movements and still use your body as a way to praise. For example the song God is Enough. There is so much energy behind that song that you can be upbeat with your dance but glorify God at the same time saying that He is enough.

How do the dances in Shazzy Fitness compare to some of the dances that you teach as a dance instructor?

It’s different because its more inspirational music and steps. With Shazzy everything just fits and falls into place.

How do you feel about the product overall?

I really love Shazzy Fitness because it is so inspiring. The music is upbeat and inspirational. Sometimes I teach Zumba at local gyms but I don’t get inspired through the music the way I do with Shazzy. I can get a great workout while listening to positive music and glorifying God. So many times as Christians we face this challenge of liking the beats and rhythms to songs but feel funny about the lyrics. I like Shazzy because I don’t have to feel funny. I can listen to great music with great beats and still worship.

Also, Shazzy is great exercise. I dance everyday and every time I do Shazzy I’m like ‘woah’ that was a workout! I’m sweating after the first 5 minutes. A lot of my clients use it and often mention that their kids come and do it with them. It’s a great way to exercise with the whole family.

What advice would you share with those who are not experienced dancers but are interested in dance fitness?

Well what’s great about Shazzy is that there is a beginner and advanced DVD. So I suggest beginners start off slow until you grow into the advanced stages. Stick with it everyday and you’ll pick up the steps. It’s great because it is so easy to follow along and the instructors break down each step for you if you’re having trouble.


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