Today we’d like to introduce you to Jillian Forbath.
Jillian, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Born in Pasadena, I grew up in Upland and moved to Mission Viejo as a teenager. I attended three high schools: Upland High, San Clemente High – where I was a song leader and performed in their dance department’s dance shows, and Capistrano Valley High. In my teens and twenties, I was a professional ballet dancer with the world-renown Ballet Pacifica appearing in numerous productions of ” The Nutcracker.” Sometimes my dreams have that Tchaikovsky score!
I graduated with my bachelors and masters in a five-year program from UC Irvine and was secretary and ritual chair for my fraternity, Pi Beta Phi – I played Frenchie, complete with pink hair, in our Songfest’s first place winning production of “Grease”. While in college I studied dance in UCI’s dance department lead by Eugene Loring the man who invented the ballet, “Billy The Kid” as well as political science and psychology.
I was artistic director of the Camino Real Playhouse for seven years, directed numerous plays and founded the West Coast Ten Minute Play Festival and Contest which ran for over ten years with many of the winning plays published in ten minute play anthologies available on Amazon. Ask me about reading over 800 ten minute plays for years if you want a laugh.
When I discovered the world of ballroom dancing I applied my training in ballet, modern dance, jazz, tap, ice skating and acting to learning the graceful American Smooth and zesty American Rhythm dancing. I have studied under more than 25 professional ballroom, Latin and tango dance instructors and coaches gaining important insights into patterns, partnering, technique and teaching.
My competition list:
Embassy Ball Dancesport Championships (4th place pro American Smooth)
Desert Classic Dancesport Festival (4th place pro American Smooth)
San Diego Dancesport Championships (4th place pro American Smooth)
California Open Dancesport (Amateur Rhythm)
I have traveled throughout Western Canada and British Columbia, Mexico and Central America, the South Pacific including Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, Tahiti and the Cook Islands and much of Europe learning about the cultures and dancing to whatever instruments were playing!
Early in my ballroom dancing teaching career I recognized the available niche of wedding couples and their first dance. I was one of the first ballroom dance instructors in Orange County, California to specialize in wedding couples concentrating on the clothing, song and time frame requirements particular to them. Before the recession, I taught over 300 couples a year!
Additionally, I teach American Smooth and Rhythm dancing to social dancers and competition bound couples and coach professional ballroom and Latin dance couples in acting skills who want to add extra pizzazz to their showcase and competition routines. Theater directing resume available online.
For years I have been a member of the National Dance Council of America and Association of Bridal Consultants – Orange County and have danced at countless wedding shows giving couples an idea of sample wedding dances in full wedding attire!
I have been an actor for the History Channel, Sony Pictures and NatGeo and have choreographed for live theater productions and students involved with movies and television. I regularly reenacted living historian impressions for the public at American civil war reenactments up and down California for 11 years. As a creative outlet, I have a shop on Etsy called ShoeBeaus that sells holiday shoe bows.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I’ve been an entrepreneur most all of my life. I would definitely say it has not been a smooth road to get to where I am now with my current company, Our Wedding Dance.
Along the way I’ve started several companies. As a high school student, I had a nice little business crocheting bathing suit tops for my friends. After an extended honeymoon in the South Pacific dissolved my job at a local transportation firm, I became a part owner of Balboa Pedal Boats in Newport Beach.
I matriculated into a theater director and served as an artistic director and then freelance director and started the West Coast Ten Minute Play Festival, Six at Eight and the West Coast Ten Minute Play Contest, modeled after the Louisville, KY Ten Minute Play Festival and Contest.
I broke my back and because I no longer could work for the company I was doing web design and marketing for, I started my own web design company, Anteater Web Design, focusing on customers who were just starting their own very small businesses.
As web designing seemed to be fading into plug and play DIY programs, I decided to take my dancing hobby – my first love in my youth – and make it into a business, Our Wedding Dance. I combined all my experiences of dance, business school, employee in various industries, and theater together creating something special to sell to wedding couples.
The struggle was real however, since there are dance studios on every corner and new dance instructors being “born” every day as they leave the franchise dance studios to strike out on their own.
I am not a product of the franchise dance studios nor am I an international champion so I had to educate myself with coaching, lessons, competition, and dance DVDs and syllabi and create something valuable for my dance students.
My competitors talked behind my back and I needed to not notice and if I was informed of it I needed not to care. I was considered an “upstart” in an “everyone knows everyone else” industry and less scrupulous instructors would try to woo my students away from me using various means.
But I have prevailed since the early 2000s through good times and one of the deepest recessions we’ve had in years, to continue to work and teach, doing what I’ve loved since I was 7 years old.
Please tell us about Our Wedding Dance.
I teach wedding couples their wedding first dance, father daughter dance, mother son dance, wedding party group dance. I teach single dancing students how to social dance. I teach competition couples some acting techniques to create more sparks.
I teach: waltz, foxtrot, tango, Viennese waltz, rumba, cha cha, salsa, East and West coast swing, Argentine tango, American civil war dancing and some specialty dances like Renaissance court and country dancing. I’ve also taught basic hip hop and formation dancing for wedding parties and flash mobs and father daughter group dances for the National Charity League and Assistant League.
I’m known for keeping my instruction pertinent to the event in question, like a wedding, anniversary, cruise or showcase.
I am most proud of my staying power and my combination of dance, business and theater backgrounds to offer students a wide range of teaching so that all different types of students can learn from me.
I’m different than my competitors in that I offer “a la carte” lessons intended to help them with their immediate event.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
- Sunday Special: Two 55 minute lessons with me for $138/couple.
- Address: 1502 East Warner
Santa Ana, CA 92705
- Website: OurWeddingDance.com
- Phone: 949 400 7347
- Email: Jillian@OurWeddingDance.com
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ourweddingdanceinc/?ref=bookmarks
- Twitter: https://www.pinterest.com/jillkat0482/
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/our-wedding-dance-santa-ana
- Other: http://ourweddingdance.com/wp/