THE SHE FACTOR: Dancing Her Way To Success

By Sandhya D'Mello Khaleej Times, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Reiko Chong says that Dubai's growing art arena and her passion for ballet were the key inspirations behind the evolution of the Dubai Dance Academy.


The UAE is now an art destination with dance and arts becoming an important component and have been added to the annual activities calendar, says Reiko M. Chong, founder and owner of Dubai Dance Academy.

"After all the years of efforts, we now notice a change and shift towards making the UAE an art destination. The launch of Dubai Opera has taken the country's cultural offerings to the next level and we are noticing noteworthy advancements in the arts and culture sector, thus defining the UAE to the world," she says.

Reiko adds that Dubai's growing art arena and her passion for ballet were the key inspirations behind the evolution of Dubai Dance Academy. "At an early age of four, I stepped into the world of ballet and at the age of 17, I started my career by winning first prize at Japan's National Ballet competition, and thereon there was no looking back."

Having danced for over 20 years on prestigious stages around the world has helped Reiko make a mark in the professional ballet arena. "I proudly say that I have performed full-length ballets such as Sleeping Beauty, Don Q, Giselle, Swan Lake, Coppelia, La Sylphide, Les Sylphides, Raymonda and Nut Cracker, as well as a number of neo-classic and contemporary ballet creations."

"At the academy, we promote self confidence, determination, respect and a total understanding of the body. We have a very holistic approach to the well-being of our students. This type of education is something we take very seriously and is particularly important for children and teens that dance regularly, especially older students that intend to take flight and dance professionally," she stresses.

"At Dubai Dance Academy, we carefully develop our dancers, giving them the skills and confidence, they need to perform to international standards. Some of our students take on the stage in a small local production to build confidence, whereas others perform professionally with our partners in Paris or London."

When asked if the UAE encourages women to take entrepreneurial path, Reiko said: "While people tend to think that the UAE essentially has few opportunities for women in non-traditional roles, the reality may be completely different. Over the years, a woman's role in every sector has garnered growing acknowledgement. The government of the UAE has always been motivating, in terms of setting new standards to support women in business ventures."

"Today, women entrepreneurs are embracing every challenge that comes their way, and are turning their ideas into triumphant business models. According to the UAE Ministry of Economy, women contribute towards nearly half of the UAE's SME sector," she adds. "The UAE is a land of opportunities, and thus the current SME landscape has evolved to a state that makes starting a business a lot more accessible. In the past few months, I've met many energetic women entrepreneurs with great vision, and they have inspired me at several levels in my entrepreneurial journey." Reiko, who has been a Dubai resident for nine years, advises new entrepreneurs that they don't have to worry if things don't go right in the beginning.

"If you believe that you are on the right path towards what you dreamt of, keep walking," she points out. Reiko says she does prioritise things, which helps her to strike a balance between work and home. "Being organised allows me to make sure both my career and family life flourish."

"One of the biggest challenges I faced was trying to educate and build awareness about ballet as a form of art. I realised that in the UAE not a lot of people were open towards this form of art; however they did have a faint idea about it. Today, this is no longer a challenge, since, the UAE now has seen the launch of the Dubai Opera. It's great to see the change and cultural initiatives been taken to shape the performing arts industry in the UAE," she concludes.

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