Born and raised in Lithuania, Sid Pocius, Owner of Empire Ballroom Studios, started dancing at the age of six. By the time he was 13 he was crowned National Champion, and by 18, he opened his first studio. After vacationing in Florida and experiencing the beautiful beaches of Sarasota County, he fell in love with the area and made the move in 2001. Pocius shared the story behind his journey, how dance has the power to transform lives and what his plans are for the future.
"When I moved to Sarasota, I started teaching at different places," Pocius said. "I also did some independent teaching on the side and participated as a judge for various ballroom events. After getting to know Sarasota and what type of dance instruction was available, I saw a need in downtown for a beautiful, elegant and friendly place where people could come to have a great social time, dance and get to know each other."
Pocius opened Empire Ballroom Studios in 2010. He offers private dance lessons in a variety of styles including, ChaCha, Rumba, Mambo, Swing, Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot and more. For the most part, challenges have been limited and growth has been fairly organic. However, as Pocius shared, not everyone thinks dance is for them.
"In our industry, it's important to let people know that everyone can dance and have a good time," he said. "Sometimes people get self-conscious and think dance is only for professionals, but that couldn't be farther from the truth. Dance is an outlet for everyone. It's fun and healthy and it's a great way to get exercise. We have people that use dance for therapy and others that come in for dates."
Pocius continued, "Our growth comes from our customers sharing their experience with others. Once they hear from other people that dance is fun, our instructors are friendly and that it's a great environment, they feel more confident and they're more likely to come in."
Pocius shared that his greatest joy with dance comes from the fact that he's changing lives. "Once they start moving, they become healthier," he said. "I've seen people recover from depression and gain self-confidence. Dance is very impactful. It's also a great way to learn about different cultures. Most social dances originate in different countries. Our instruction includes an educational component as well."
Looking ahead, wants Empire Ballroom Studios to gain in popularity while exposing more people to the wonderful world of dance. He'll continue serving as a judge for Sarasota Challenge Competition, an event he organizes, and would eventually like to open a second studio in Sarasota County.
What advice does Pocius have for aspiring entrepreneurs? "You need to be passionate about your product or service," he said. "If your business is service-based, you always have to go the extra mile to deliver exceptional service. Third, it's all about the details - that's where the magic is. Lastly, you'll need a good loyal team and never stop learning and getting better at what you do."