Pamela Schumacher‘s love for dance started at age 2. From her early years at Etta Mae Smith Dance Studio in Ohio to teacher training classes at Sharon Rae Dance Studio, Pamela continued to improve her craft while pursing a BA degree in dance with an emphasis on education from The University of Akron. After a career performing onstage in venues around the world, she continues her love for the art even after the last dance.
Pamela has performed with The Repertory Dance Company and The Touring Ensemble; cheerleader for the Cleveland Thunderbolts Arena Football team, singer and dancer at Six Flags Theme Park, and as a showgirl in the Holiday Spectacular show at the famed Carousel Dinner Theatre. That role as a showgirl, inspired Pamela to pursue her dream; she moved to Las Vegas and began auditioning for the two major Showgirl productions—Jubilee! and Folies Bergere.
Her Las Vegas career began at Show in the Sky at the Rio Hotel & Casino. After a short contract performing with Showgirls of Magic in Tokyo, Pamela came back to the Las Vegas and auditioned for Jubilee. She achieved her first goal being cast as a showgirl in Donn Arden’s Jubilee! at Bally’s Hotel & Casino. She left Jubilee and continued performing in Erocktica at the Rio Hotel & Casino, and also traveled with the “X” Country Show. To fulfill her dream, she auditioned for Folies Bergere at the Tropicana Hotel & Casino, and was cast as a showgirl.
Pamela soon opened the Pamela Ann School of Dance, a 2800 square foot dance studio in Henderson, NV. The studio averages 30-40 classes per season for more than 100 registered students. We discussed with Pamela the challenges of ending a successful performing career and transitioning to a future beyond the stage. Although the last dance has ended, the dream continues for Pamela.
VEGAS REPORT: Tell us about your mindset when you retired from Jubilee! and decided to open a dance studio.
Pamela Schumacher: I chose to retire from performing after getting married and having my first son. I was looking for a career where I could still be involved with the dance world while spending time with my family. I didn’t want to miss the precious time together including holidays that performers in shows miss out on!
VEGAS REPORT: What business experience did you have prior to opening the studio?
Pamela Schumacher: I was an instructor at many dance studios and judged for various national dance competitions while I was attending college. I continued this after graduation as well. With the help of my family,and especially my Dad, I opened my first studio Pamela Ann School of Dance in Akron, Ohio. I ran the studio with great success until after my Dad passed away and I had a calling to chase my other dreams to perform as a showgirl. I relocated to Las Vegas and continued to run the studio from [Vegas]. After a short while, I realized that wasn’t feasible and chose to close the studio. I always continued the hope that one day I would be able to open my studio again. I also operated a traveling dance school locally for a short time called Tiny Stars Dance School.
VEGAS REPORT: What skills did you bring with you from the performing world to the business world?
Pamela Schumacher: Performers learn so many skills that transfer over into the business world. Working long hours that sometimes don’t pay the best wages. Being dedicated and having a strong passion for our art form. Performers also have to be flexible and quick to make changes as needed. Dancers are always perfecting this skill whether it’s learning, adjusting, or changing choreography. Or, something as simple as problem solving skills while dancing on stage live! This also helps dancers learn to work as a team to get things done and get the done to perfection. Owning a business is all of this—long hours, dedication, flexibility, problem solving and teamwork.
VEGAS REPORT: Tell us a bit about the challenges with opening a dance studio.
Pamela Schumacher: The biggest challenge I found opening a studio was getting the studio name out to the community so students could find us, understand our passion, learn about us and how we could help them grow their passion and skills. Our main goal for the studio is to teach students to love the art of dance for their lifetime. I want our students to have the tools and training that they can take with them and become a professional in any field. If they choose to be professional dancers, teachers or studio owners they can shoot for the stars. If they don’t, I want them to still have a strong love and passion that will drive them to do anything—from taking classes or enjoying a performance.
When you are performing in a show, you get away from the business world as well as how fast technology is changing. Performers are not used to all the paperwork, technology, business plans, marketing, and accounting that goes into the day to day operations of a business. It’s quite an adjustment.
VEGAS REPORT: Did you consider any other business besides a dance studio?
Pamela Schumacher: I also still work in the entertainment side of the business with an event company I own, Real Vegas Showgirls. We provide showgirls and entertainers for special events, corporate events, trade shows, private parties, etc. My heart and passion will always be in both performing and passing the love and passion of dance to children through teaching. Many of my former students have gone on to become professional dancers, teachers, and studio owners. I find it very fulfilling to see students work hard and achieve their dreams.
VEGAS REPORT: At what point after opening the studio did you realize the business would survive, and thrive?
Pamela Schumacher: Running a small business requires long hours, dedication and hard work. I find you never really stop trying to thrive and survive. You never really get to a point where you say, “I Made It!” The dance world is constantly evolving. If I were to stop for a second, the industry would pass me by. I have to keep focused and continue to learn and grow and lead.
VEGAS REPORT: Have you made use of your performer friends to teach at the studio?
Pamela Schumacher: Most of the teachers at Pamela Ann School of Dance are performers I spent time working with at one of the many shows on the Strip. The Las Vegas performing world is very small and provides a great community to pull talented teachers from. This is a great asset to my business because when I am looking for teachers I already know their talents, morals, and that they value teaching dance. It [is] comforting for me to know that I could always count on a good friend to pick up a class as needed, teach classes and also choreograph.
VEGAS REPORT: What would you have done differently if you could start it all over again?
Pamela Schumacher: If I could do this all over again, I honestly would have waited until all my kids were older. It’s difficult to run a studio with little kids under foot all the time. Running a studio takes away a lot of family time and it is precious time that you can’t get back.
THE LAST DANCE – FINAL THOUGHT
VEGAS REPORT: What words of advice would you give to younger performers ready to retire, who are thinking about opening a business?
Pamela Schumacher: Perform as long as you can! But when you are ready to make that plunge, make sure that you are at the right place in your life to give it your all. Be prepared and know your business and industry inside and out. You will have to be able to do anything it takes from cleaning a bathroom to negotiating a large contract. When you start you will be a one person show but the hard work is worth the reward.