Natalia O’Connor is a National Champion, World Semi-finalists and World Cup Finalist in ballroom dancing. She and her partner, Florin Vlad, have represented the United States at FIVE World Championships!

In 2017, this couple opened Dance Fire Studio & Fitness in Niskayuna, so they could share their talent and technique with the public.

“As competitive ballroom dancers ourselves, we always dreamed of having our own business, just like so many of our role models. The only difference is that we started much earlier,” says O’Connor. “We saw an opportunity and we took it.”

“After learning and observing many other studios, both successful and less successful throughout the world, we decided this is a great field, and we could open a business and apply all the knowledge we have to ensure its success.”

The couple did an extensive search for the right location, and ultimately chose the present space in Niskayuna, based on its proximity to large regional employers and easy access to highways.

They received a loan from the Community Loan Fund to make improvements to the facility, including the purchase and installation of a 3,000 square feet dance floor, mirrors, and sound system. Today, the facility offers both instruction space and event space – something the couple knew was missing from the Capital Region.

“We were always struggling to find appropriate space to teach and practice our competitive dance routines. That’s when we realized the lack of large ballroom studios in the area.”

Dance Fire Studio & Fitness, LLC, offers a variety of services, including group dance and fitness classes, private dance lessons and fitness instruction, as well as specialty sessions and packages to meet their customers’ various needs and experience levels. Classes focus on Ballroom, Latin, American style and social dance instruction, and the studio offers both private and group lessons.

Dance Fire Studio has become a place for ballroom enthusiasts to be social, reach out of their comfort zone, and bond with other community members, but it’s also become a place where new learners can find expert instruction and grow confident. “We wanted to have a welcoming place for all dance, regardless of style or affiliation. The idea of inclusion is a large part of our vision for the studio,” says O’Connor.