By Todd Travis
Learning work ethic early
Casia Baisa, owner of Infinity Dance Academy in Plainfield, began learning real world lessons at an early age. Being the second oldest of nine children meant that she took on responsibilities that most girls her age don’t typically have. Her mom taught her to sew in order to help provide for her brothers and sisters. She lived in a lower-income neighborhood where safety was a concern, especially to her parents. As a result, she and her siblings were homeschooled to avoid having to go to the local public school.
Dance becoming a passion
She fell in love with dancing when she was only 3 or 4 years old. Even though her family didn’t have the means to pay for lessons, she and her mom used creativity to help her pursue this passion. She started off by taking free lessons at the YMCA, and later on would negotiate lessons from schools where her mom would sell dance costumes. She also went to local businesses to raise money to attend dance camps and learned to do hair to help pay for her dancing. Baisa never really looked at challenges with a victim mindset, instead she used her resourcefulness to overcome any challenges she faced.
One particular challenge she encountered was an injury she sustained that ended her dancing dreams at age 15. She needed surgery to overcome the injury but wasn’t able to afford it. She knew she would no longer be able to pursue her dream to become a professional dancer, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t continue to be involved in the dance world. That’s when she started teaching and choreographing. True to her determined spirit, she became a well-known choreographer and teacher.
“As I got older, I’ve found more purpose with teaching. Dance teaches you discipline, which prepares you for the real world when it comes to your work ethic, working with a team, and being able to rise above challenges you will encounter,” Baisa explained.
Becoming an owner
Baisa never really had any plans to own a dance studio. Things were going well for her and she was traveling around doing choreography for other dancers. When the pandemic hit, she had an opportunity fall in her lap, and she just went for it. The owner of her home studio here in Plainfield, like many others during the pandemic, began to look at other options in life. When parents began to become concerned about whether the studio would re-open or not, Baisa stepped in and decided to buy the studio.
“It was the biggest adjustment that I’ve ever experienced. When you own a business, there’s so much all the time. Going from being a teacher, coming in to teach, and then leaving, to now having employees, overseeing the operations of the business, and communicating with the parents has been a lot. At first, I got a little lost creatively during that transition, but after a few years, with the help I’ve gotten from all the parents, I’m beginning to find that creativity again,” Baisa remarked.
After taking over, Baisa decided that if she was going to be the owner, she was going to make the place her own. She updated the look of the studio as well as the mission. When it came to her vision for the dancers, she wanted her teaching to extend beyond dancing into the disciplines that prepare her students for the real world. To Baisa, that means looking outside of yourself and seeing the bigger picture. A few things that she tries to instill include: taking ownership of your situation, helping others, and finding purpose in your actions.
Using her platform to help others
Once she felt she had some of the operational systems in place, Baisa began to incorporate her passion for philanthropy into her business. She created Infinity Gives, a philanthropic arm of the organization which helps to raise money for local charities. This is where Baisa really shows her heart for people who need help. Not only does she help lead fundraisers for charities, but she also gives opportunities for her students to raise money to pay for their dancing- just as she did at a young age.
Using the seamstress trade she learned from her mother, she devotes her own time to make t-shirts that her students can go out and sell to raise funds for dance competitions, costumes, and dance lessons. Dancing is not an inexpensive hobby. If a student wants to go out and sell 50 t-shirts, Baisa will take the time to help that student get everything they need to do that- an entrepreneurial opportunity for anyone willing to do the work.
The future is bright for Infinity Dance Academy, its students, and the surrounding community.
Visit infinitydanceacademy.com for more info