From a role as a laboratory management technician to owning her own dance studios, Anna Vainikka-McLean is living her dream.
Anna started her Irish dance career in 2004 in her home country of Finland. After intense training she began teaching part-time in two dance schools in Helsinki two years later.
Having always wanting to live abroad, Anna travelled to Dundee to attend university but had to miss some of her dance teaching.
The 33-year-old said: “In 2009 I moved to Dundee to study physiological sciences.
“Although I kept going back during holiday times to teach workshops in Finland, I missed teaching dance regularly so I started my own school, Irish Dance Studio, in 2011 which I ran alongside my studies.
“I graduated in 2013 and started a full-time job at Dundee University as a laboratory management technician.
“The same year I expanded Irish Dance Studio and changed the name to Dundee Dance Studios offering a variety of styles and I contracted a team of teachers.
“Following the successful launch of my pilates classes in 2016, I took the leap and left the lab job, becoming a full-time pilates and dance instructor and studio director.
“Soon after, I opened up another studio and have been running the school and teaching full-time ever since.
“Opening a dance studio had been a dream since 2006, and, as the years went by, it became more of a serious goal.
“There have definitely been lots of challenges along the way, but you solve them and you keep pushing. Having said that, when I did finally go full-time it took a while for my mind to process that I’ve actually done it now.
“I’ve always been a leader and a teacher and wanted to do things my way so I kept pushing until I reached my goals.
“I feel at home leading a class and it gives me such joy and satisfaction seeing my students dance with perfect technique, a pilates client saying their back issues have vanished or a stretch class client reaching their toes for the first time since their childhood.
“It’s been a tough journey of extremely long work hours, but it’s all paid off. I am living the dream that first started taking shape in the mind of a young student in Helsinki in 2006.”
Expanding team offers more classes
Anna doesn’t do all the work on her own – she has seven instructors on her team.
She said: “I now have a fantastic team of teachers, and we offer dance classes for children and adults in a wide range of styles.
“I’m proud to say our kids’ dance teacher Rachel Harris will finish her comprehensive British Ballet Organisation dance teacher training this spring, which means we can offer the BBO syllabus.
“I also have a great team for adult dance classes which is based at the Brown Street studio. This has allowed me to focus on my pilates and barre classes.
“I’m also excited to mention that recently we’ve welcomed the amazing yoga teacher Maureen Meade to our team, so we’re now offering high quality, small class size yoga courses.”