2015 IW Winners

Thunder Bay | Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Andrea Novoa

Andrea Novoa

A year after immigrating to Canada, Andrea Novoa launched her World Centre Dance studio in Thunder Bay on May 4, 2011, and today, as the owner of a successful exciting business as well as its artistic director and main teacher, she brings a variety of ethnic dance classes to people of all ages.

Novoa’s unique studio lets her students experience different forms of ethnic dancing, from Bellydance, Persian and Hip Hop to Bollywood, Salsa, Bhangra (cardio workout from a folkloric dance form) and Zumba (a Latin-inspired dance-fitness program that has spread worldwide).

“Dancing is for everyone. Anyone can dance. Not everyone will become a professional, but dancing is a great way to have fun and socialize in a healthy way. That is my favourite thing about ethnic dancing, anyone can learn,” said Novoa, adding that while dance is open to everyone, becoming a professional is hard work, requiring discipline, passion, dedication and many years of work.

Born and raised in Colombia, she grew up dancing to Latin American music. After obtaining a bachelor of arts in Mathematics from University of los Andes in Bogota, Columbia, her passion for dancing led her to train with professional dance instructors, learning different styles and working as a dancer in Las Vegas, Mexico City, Montreal, Bogota and New Orleans.

After immigrating to Canada in 2010 (the same year she married her husband in Thunder Bay), Novoa’s vision was to create an ethnic dance studio where she could also continue developing her dance career.

Starting from scratch, she found affordable classroom space in the former Centre of Change (previously Hillcrest High School) and received support from local agencies like PARO and the Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission. A grant from Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation provided funding to launch her World Dance Centre.

As a small business owner and employer, the hardest part for Novoa was learning all the aspects of running a business and juggling that with the artistic and customer service. “A particular challenge about my business is informing our customers about what we do and getting them to feel comfortable enough to come try it.”

Novoa’s personal favourite style of dancing is Bellydance, but also likes the Bachata, the Latin styles as they are part of her culture, and the Zumba. A reader of books set in faraway lands, historical fiction and detective mysteries, Novoa listens to instrumental and world music; watches movies; likes the colour red; and would like to visit Europe and India.

And what advice would she give a young entrepreneur looking to start a business? “Finding a mentor could be very helpful. Maybe someone doing something similar in a different city. Make a business plan…and use realistic numbers,” said Novoa. “If your business is related to the arts I would advise you to charge what the art is worth and not work for exposure.” IW

Sponsored by: