On the first Wednesday of every month, the family law office of Phillips & Peters celebrates Women Crush Wednesday! These are not sponsored or paid posts – just women business owners we love to support that are crushing it in Hampton Roads.
After a couple of months quarantined at home with family some of us know more than others that children are filled with energy. The coronavirus shut down schools and recreational activities but Kristin Poulin of Little Feet Dance Studio was quick to adjust. Ms. Poulin describes her business as “a little less traditional than your regular dance studio”. Her traveling studio has been operating for the past 18 years. She offers classes that inspire children to think creatively, seek their full potential, and act with kindness and compassion.
Dancing has always been a part of Kristin’s life. She entered the world of dance in Norfolk at the age of 3 and hasn’t stopped since. In college, she pursued both her passion for psychology and dance at James Madison University by double majoring. As she was trying to figure out her next steps a professor introduced the idea of dance therapy. The American Dance Therapy Association describes dance therapy as the “psychotherapeutic use of movement to promote emotional, social, cognitive, and physical integration of the individual, for the purpose of improving health and well-being.” At the time only 6 graduate schools offered that field of study. Kristin decided on Lesley College to earn her Master’s degree in Dance Therapy.
It was around this same time that Mrs. Poulin realized she liked working with children. After working years in other dance studios, Kristin knew she could run a studio on her own. With aspirations to start a family, she sought out a business model that would support the life she wanted. The non-traditional model of Little Feet Dance Studio was purposeful from the start. It is also rare to find. Unlike other dance studios, she isn’t as strict with the technical application. “Younger children aren’t ready for the strictness of professional dance” she explained. “They want the playful nature along with the learning. They’re a captive audience when you have fun props that engage and interest them”.
After living in Boston for some time after school, Kristin decided to come back home to Virginia. Little Feet Dance Studio started offering classes to local preschools as an afterschool enrichment opportunity. It wasn’t long before Kristin was hiring more teachers and expanding into private schools and local churches. Her nontraditional model took off. Over time she incorporated more behavioral learning into her programs. “I use behavioral issues as a chance to teach the group. I give my students opportunities to understand the behavior of their peers by giving them the language that makes sense at their age.”
In the time of COVID-19, Little Feet Dance Studio has found ways to keep moving forward. All classes have been online for the past 2.5 months. Kristin says 80% of her clientele stayed with her as she found ways to keep the students engaged over zoom. As Virginia transitions through Phase 2 Kristin is looking ahead as well. For the first time in 18 years, she won’t be able to have a dance recital but she’s hoping to keep up her annual dance day camps in the summer.
At Phillips & Peters, we’re inspired by Kristin’s tenacity to serve the youth during these stressful times. She has pivoted her business to accommodate her clients with the care and creativity she teachers to her students. Though we haven’t taken any classes with Little Feet Dance Studio the lasting lesson of communicating with kindness is something we can all learn from.