Houston Dance Works (HDW) owner Autumn Rosemond has come a long way since June 2011, when she hosted its first classes in the Candlelight Community Center.
"We started with 20 kids at that first class and built from the ground up," Rosemond said. "We continuously grew."
The studio moved to the former Third Coast Theater until it outgrew that space, and then to classroom space at 3500 E. T.C. Jester Blvd. Over time, Rosemond has since doubled the space at that location and helped 3,000 students pursue their dance goals. Still, she says she is mindful of growing organically.
“I never wanted to lose touch with our families by doing too much too soon,” she said.
For the first six years of the studio's existence, Rosemond also kept her day job as a data analyst. A dancer from age 3, Rosemond danced in college at Texas State and taught classes, too.
However, she majored in finance because she knew that she wanted to own a studio someday and needed to understand how business worked. After dancing professionally in her early 20s, Rosemond opened the studio with her husband when she was 25.
"I always had a business plan, but I never imagined that I'd be where I am now," she said.
Houston Dance Works now employs 18 staff members. The studio saw a drop in students due to COVID-19, but Rosemond said she anticipates numbers will pick back up.
HDW also has a competitive dance team comprised of three levels.
"Our competitive dancers are very close,” Rosemond said. “They dance quite often and do very well.”
Before the pandemic, Rosemond had a number of plans to mark the studio's 10th anniversary, but she has since modified those.
One of the culminating events for students at Houston Dance Works is a recital at the University of Houston's Cullen Performance Hall each spring. This year there will be a modified version of the recital in the same location.
"When I was growing up, we always had these grand recitals," Rosemond said. "I was always on top of the world. Dance did a lot for my confidence. I want to give that special feeling to the students every year, too."
Moving forward, Rosemond said she would like to explore adding an additional location of the studio, although she always wants to maintain a presence in the neighborhood. An area resident, Rosemond now has three children of her own, two of whom are old enough to take dance classes.
"I love Oak Forest and Garden Oaks," she said.
Area dancers feel the same about Houston Dance Works. Heights High School student Aubrey Carter has danced at the studio for most of her life.
"It's hard to put into words how much HDW shaped my life," Carter said. "But from kindergarten to now in ninth grade, Houston Dance Works has been committed to helping me grow and improve, and their faculty is caring and supportive."
Megan Rasmussen signed up her daughter, Tracey, after watching her perform around the house and Googling "dance classes 77018." Tracey has been at Houston Dance Works ever since and performs competitively, as does Carter.
"I love my team and we are all one big family," Tracey said. "We work so well together."
For more information, visit Houston Dance Works at https://www.houstondanceworks.com/.