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Q&A with Bonnie Parsons and Seen On Screen

13 February, 2018

 

Meet Bonnie Parsons, professional dancer and founder of SOS

Ever wish you could learn music video dances and feel sassy AF? Then you need to know about Seen On Screen. They teach the nation’s best (and seriously empowering) dance classes across London, offering after-work classes and weekend workshops that cover everything from hard-hitting hip hop to commercial dance.

The SOS instructors are all professional dancers who perform with the biggest stars in the industry, and then bring their talent back to the studio to teach you the moves. In each class they’ll break it all down, lift you up, and make you feel amazing.

Team Fitty’s been multiple times, and some of us have even returned solo (which is a huge testament to how comfortable and non-judgemental the classes are). And yes, we may have been performing the routines when we’re out…  

We’ve caught up with sassy founder, Bonnie Parsons, to find out more.

 

 

Q: Congrats on owning such a cool business! What made you start SOS?

A: Thank you! 

From the age of 16, my major goal was to be a professional backing dancer and I couldn’t have imagined having any other career. But by 23, I had been a professional dancer for 5 years, and I felt that I wanted to take my career to the next level.

I got the idea for SOS when I was on set at the X Factor Live Shows after a rehearsal. The show was going out to 20 million viewers that year, and I wondered if all those people at home watch music videos and TV shows, and think ‘I wish I could dance like that’ – like I always had! I did my research, and I couldn’t believe nothing like SOS existed. Six months later, the company was incorporated, and SOS was born in May 2011.

 

What really made me take the leap to start a business rather than leaving it at an idea, was the determination to find independence for myself. Having spent 5 years dancing professionally, I didn’t feel comfortable having to rely on a choreographer, or casting director to ‘like’ me, to get a job. By building a business, I could provide quality work for myself, and my team, and of course provide a service that I felt so passionate about.

 

Q: Can you tell us more about your dance background?

A: I found my love for dance when I was around 9 years old, and started going to disco classes with some girls from school. I got into a full time vocational school called The Arts Educational School, Tring Park when I was 16, but I was massively behind in technique. It was really hard at the time, because teachers would totally dismiss me. It gave me a lot of determination to prove them wrong and earn their respect, which I did, and I feel that experience really helped shape me into the teacher I am today. I know exactly how it feels to be in a dance studio and feel shy, or nervous. I’ve been there, so I think it’s given me an instinct to put my students at ease, and feel comfortable with me.

I left Tring at 18 and went on to train in commercial dance (the style SOS is known for) in London, New York and Los Angeles. I got my first job the same year dancing for Seal at the Royal Variety performance. I went on to dance for Florence & The Machine, Kelly Rowland, Professor Green, Sony PlayStation, the MOBO’s and of course, the X Factor Live Shows which is when SOS was founded.

 

Q: What do you do when you’re not teaching classes?

A: I spend the majority of my time running SOS, on the business side. There’s so many different aspects to running a business, from accounts, to customer service, marketing, publicity, operations, innovation…it keeps me busy!

 

Q: What’s been the highlight of your career so far?

A: The highlight for me is seeing something I have created grow year on year, and to consistently see SOS change our students’ lives. Dancing on TV shows, and getting publicity is so exciting, but it wouldn’t mean anything if we had no one to teach. Getting to do a job that is truly impactful, and helps our students to achieve their dreams through the confidence we help them build in the dance studio, means everything to me.

 

Q: Who’s your favourite person you’ve performed with?

A: Kelly Rowland. I danced for her when she was promoting Commander and we did a massive arena show in Paris. We got to dance to some of the Destiny’s Child songs, and dancing for someone I had grown up watching, was so cool.

 

Q: Does nutrition play a large role in your training?

A: I’m very ethical in my nutrition and try to eat food which will nourish my body (which includes carbs BTW, my favourite food is pasta!). The question I ask isn’t ‘is this fattening’, but was anything harmed in the making of it, is it good quality, and will it fuel my body in a healthy way for all the demands I put on it as a dancer/business woman/instructor? I don’t believe in dieting, or watching your weight. I believe in being healthy and finding the right balance between nutrition and exercise to achieve a sustainable weight that is right for you.

 


Q: Can anyone learn to dance, or is it something you’re born with?

A: Anyone can dance. If you can move your body to music, you’re dancing as far as I’m concerned! The coordination and moves come in time – that’s our job to worry about, not yours. Your job is to come to class with a give-it-a-go attitude and to let go. SOS is all about progress over perfection, so we create a judgement free, super supportive environment.

 

Q: Who inspires you?

A: Beyoncé, Oprah, Michelle Obama, my students and my team.

 

Q: We’re big believers in morning rituals – how do you start your day?

A: I wake up around 7.30am when my lovely fiancé brings me coffee! I then get up and do a morning meditation while stretching. I have always loved to stretch, but in recent years I haven’t made time for it. This year, I’m making a conscious effort to invest in a ‘power hour’ in the morning, so I can set myself up with the right focus for the day.

 

Q: What’s your biggest accomplishment?

A: Definitely being the sole founder of a successful business which will turn 7 years old this year! It’s not always easy, it’s stressful, but it’s also so incredibly rewarding. I am so proud of my team, my students and myself for coming this far.

 

Q; What’s the best advice you’ve been given?

A: You should never think that you’re better or worse than anyone else.

 

Q: What are you top three tips for everyone?

A: 1. Embrace your mistakes. 2. Find a form of exercise you love. 3. Fake it, till you make it.

 

Q: What’s the best piece of equipment you’ve bought?

A: I don’t really buy equipment… I’d probably say my iPhone, my MacBook Air, and my Mulberry satchel to carry them all around in, so I can work from anywhere!

 

 

 

Want to feel sassy AF at a SOS class or workshop? Find out more at www.seenonscreen.dance or have a stalk on Instagram @SOSfdance

 

 

 



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