Chances are, if you made it to Cats Corner during the past month or so, you might have spotted Olivia Bowman manning a clipboard and walking around the studio with more intent than usual. That is because Olivia has been filling the role of studio manager at Cats Corner while Head Feline herself, Debbie Carman, was out gallivanting around in South Korea (*shakes fist*).
Jokingly calling herself, “Debbie-Light”, Olivia managed a lot of the behind the scenes stuff that we, as dancers, often take for granted – answering emails, preparing all the classes, financials of all the students (read: making sure they pay!), weekly announcements, and the list goes on and on.
“I just tried really hard to just get to the studio and get as much stuff done as possible before anyone shows up”, says Olivia, “even though a lot of the stuff that Debbie does, we weren’t able to do (accounting and bills), a lot of the work was continually answering people’s question about the studio. I had a lot fun answering questions in both english and french.”
As you would imagine for a dance studio – a inquiries are from people without a slightest clue about dancing, let alone a dance so niche like lindy hop. Often times these people are also shopping around trying to decide the best place for them to take lessons from. This is where Olivia really shines – “if they are trying to choose between studios, the thing that is more likely [in choosing one over the other] is the social experience. I tried conveying that whenever I talked to anybody that this is indeed the place to hang out with nice people”.
Moving from her native Australia to Montréal, Olivia’s story of how she ended up in Montréal is particularly interesting to me because it is a story I’ve been hearing quite a lot in the past year – dancers traveling to Montréal to visit or stay for a little bit and then ending up just moving here. In fact, this sounds eerily similar to my own particular situation. Even with the crazyness that is winter here in Quebec, a lot of my current friends in the scene were also dancers who decided to specifically move after visiting. In Olivia’s case, she traded in her nice job in academic administration back home for the uncertainty of Montreal. In her own words, she quite possibly have picked the “hardest place in Canada to work [if you are not a native french speaker].”
“I left home and didn’t really know where I would end up. I knew I was stopping in Montreal for a couple of weeks and after that time period I pretty much said ‘YAH I want to come back’. The reasons why I wanted to leave home were because I needed a change and needed experiences that I wasn’t just getting at home. And here I am!”