It takes a special determination to open a dance studio during a global pandemic. Meet Sha’Ran Marshall.
By Jennifer Proe
Opening a new studio and creating a new business model during a global pandemic require passion, determination, and a boundless supply of positive energy, all of which you’ll find in Sha’Ran Marshall. Last June, she moved her company, Dance by Sha’Ran, into a basement studio in Christ Episcopal Church on Warrensville Center Road, across from the Van Aken District. The space was previously occupied by another local dance company, Verb Ballets.
Marshall began dancing at the age of 8, and moved to the Cleveland area from Toledo as a young adult when she had the opportunity to join the Cleveland Cavaliers dance team. It wasn’t long before she found a way to combine her enthusiasm for dance and fitness with the entrepreneurial work ethic she inherited from her father, a dentist. She formed her own dance company, Dance by Sha’Ran, in 2010, but had no permanent home for it, bouncing from one borrowed space to another.
For someone used to being in constant motion, the pandemic brought a unique opportunity to sit still and reflect on what was important to her.
“These trying times allowed me to work on my business and create an LLC for Dance by Sha’Ran, as well as a non-profit organization called Urban Dance Cleveland,” through which she distributes dance scholarships for youth ages 5-25. “I’m a big believer in energy, and thinking about what we can do for others.”
Marshall decided that she and her three sons, ages 7, 14, and 19 (all of whom have followed in her footsteps as devotees of dance and fitness), had been moving their dining room table out of the way long enough. When the space became available at Christ Episcopal, she jumped at the chance.
Her fans followed her enthusiastically to her new studio, including several she had not realized were Shaker residents. “Shaker is amazing, and has welcomed me with open arms,” says Marshall. She is particularly grateful to Rev. Peter Faass, the Rector of Christ Episcopal, for making her feel at home.
Keeping with CDC and state guidelines, Marshall is able to offer some classes in studio, though anyone who prefers may attend online. Her team of dance and fitness instructors offers a wide range of ways to keep moving, for everyone from ages 3 to “seasoned,” the term she prefers. Classes include ballet, jazz, hip hop, modern, musical theatre dance, personal training, aerobic workouts, and even wellness and nutrition coaching.
For patrons who haven’t danced or worked out much recently, Marshall recommends starting with her 216 Cardio class, which combines simple dance moves with a fitness routine designed to get you off the couch.
If Marshall had to pick a personal favorite, she says, “It would be jazz. Jazz is the basis for modern, tap, musical theatre, and hip hop, and it spans so many historical eras.”
But the one class that always sells out might surprise you: Salacious Stilettos. Billed as a “Friday Night Out,” this class offers patrons 18 and up the chance to let down their hair and learn a new dance routine while wearing their sexiest heels, just for fun. And isn’t that something we all could use right about now?