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Meet Nina Renner of eNcore Dance Center in Vernon Hills

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nina Renner.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I started taking dance at 5 years old and quit after my first year, because there was a boy in my class. As I look back, it is a funny reason to quit, but it made perfect sense to me as a child. I moved onto gymnastics, where I dedicated my free time for 11 years, but I always knew my heart was in dance. When I entered high school, I had a choice to make, continue with gymnastics or pursue my passion in dance. It was a hard decision and a critical point in my life, but I picked dance and never looked back.

In college, I majored in dance against my parent’s wishes. At this point in my life, it wasn’t a difficult decision to make, I knew dance will always be my passion. Funny enough, I had football players in my ballet class my first year, which I then realized was cool.

After graduating college, I began my teaching career. I have now been teaching dance for 23 years. I’ve been with eNcore dance center for 13 years. My boss 2 years ago came up to me and offered me the company as she was selling it to move on in her life. It took me months to decide whether or not I should take over as owner and artistic director. In the end, I decided I had to do it for the kids as I saw how happy they were at the studio.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Owning my own company has been far from easy. I have a passion for dance, not business. I have the personality to quickly build a connection with the students and parents, the patience to teach children, not to deal with conflict and resolving issues. The business side of a dance studio was completely foreign to me and I needed to learn things very quickly. Whether it was insurance coverage types, local fire code laws, properly tracking business expenses, or scheduling a recital for 175 students with 65 performances, I needed to tackle it head on and many times I learned from making mistakes. After my first year owning a business, I see everything I did wrong, but everyone who takes on this endeavor has that same experience. It is very difficult at times to stay positive and move forward. Thanks to my friends, my family, and encore family, I have a support structure that prevents me from throwing it all out the window.

eNcore Dance Center – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
eNcore dance center is a studio which teaches Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, contemporary, Tap, and other specialized classes. After acquiring the company last year, I started talking to the students and parents to determine the reasons they joined the eNcore family. I quickly realized many of our students had left local studios because they constantly felt judged. All the other local studios focused on the competition side of dance. Being very critical of each student’s technique and even going to the extent of suggesting to parents they should leave the studio and pursue a different sport. Not everyone wants to be a professional dancer, not everyone wants to pursue a career in my field, some people just love to dance. They don’t need to feel judged. eNcore caters to both the recreational and dedicated dancer. I personally never liked the competition side of dance, but I love dance as an art-form. The ability to express emotion through movement is what I want to pass on our students. Encore no longer has a competition team, which is unheard of in the dance studio world. Last year, I decided to take eNcore in a completely new direction. I wanted to give more emphasis to the overall eNcore experience. This began with an entire re-brand of the company and a re-model of the studio to reflect a warm, professional, and elegant environment. Unlike every other studio, I pay attention to every little detail. The recital performance included individualized security badges for the students, professional keepsake tickets, a full color program that reflects a musical playbill, and everything revolves around a central theme. Even the invitations to eNcore’s Bravo program (for more advanced students) were handmade, which included gold leaf of our logo. All of this is done to give each family mementos as a keepsake. Little things they can look back at in 20 years and reflect on their experience with the studio. No detail is overlooked and the upgrade has been noticed and driven referrals in a positive direction.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
This year at the rehearsal, after rehearsing over 60 dances in over 12 hours, I stood at the back of the theater and watched the families watching the last dance on stage said to myself “I did it, I actually did it” I was able to go into the recital the next day with such confidence and the outcome was something much more than I ever thought.


  • 15 week – 60 min classes are $270
  • 15 week – 45 min classes are $245
  • 15 week – 30 min classes are $220

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Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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