We had the good fortune of connecting with Anita de la Isla and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Anita, what do you want your legacy to be?
My mama always taught us to leave a place better than you found it and to always belong to something greater than yourself. In that sense, I believe that a legacy isn’t about you but rather it’s about your contribution to the world. How did you leave the world better than when you found it? I hope that through our work we can support others and our community and that the support far exceeds the boundaries of our studio. I hope that we can provide a place where dreams are planted and allowed to flourish. I hope that our passion for service and the arts becomes infectious and that through our pursuit and struggles, others are inspired to follow their passions. Most of all, I hope that everyone that walks through our doors feels an abundance of love, kindness and a sense of belonging. I hope that they carry that love and kindness with them everywhere they go and that they then spread it to others so that it is felt for years to come.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
On April 1st, Forcher’s Dance Center in Irving announced that after 22 years, it was closing permanently due to the impact from shelter in place. This long standing school is over 63 years old, but owned by only 2 families-the Rileys and the Forchers. When my husband, Jaime de la Isla and I received the news, we were devastated. Our daughter was a dancer at Forcher’s for 8 years and was also part of Momentum Dance Company, which is Irving’s only professional ballet company. Momentum provides our community with professional training and performance opportunities. They also put on Irving’s only Nutcracker. Forcher’s Dance Center had served as the home of Momentum Dance Company for 16 years. The closing of Forcher’s Dance Center was a devastating loss to our community. It was then that my husband and I decided to spring into action. While it isn’t easy to open a business in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, we couldn’t let our community suffer this kind of loss. We decided to take our entire savings to purchase the studio from the Forcher’s and set forth to rebrand and reopen. Baila Irving Performing Arts Academy began its inaugural year in June of 2020, in the same studio that has called Irving, Texas home for over 63 years. Continuing in the legacy started by the Riley family and most recently by Jacqueline and Jerry Forcher, Baila Irving is proud to continue to provide excellent dance instruction to this community, providing development and growth opportunities for all dancers. We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from our community in coming together for a singular purpose – to keep the arts alive in Irving and for our family of dancers that come from all parts of North Texas. Whether it has been through picking up a paint roller to bring a new look, grabbing a ladder to fix a damaged ceiling, donating fixtures and supplies, donating time and expertise to plan, remodel, rebrand, or through simple words of encouragement, the rebirth of this studio has been a family affair – with our dancers being center stage. From the signs on our doors (created and donated by one of our dads), to the artwork on our walls (designed and created by an art teacher in Irving ISD), to our new studio floors (installed by my husband and another dance dad). We know that we have a long road ahead of us. Because of Covid, our enrollment is down to half of what it was before the pandemic hit. Every month we are seeing growth and we have every hope that we will continue to bring the arts to our beautiful community for another 63 years.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m a South Texas girl, so I would start off by taking my best friend to my favorite taco shop that serves a little taste of home, Mrs. G’s Tacos in Grapevine. This local establishment has roots in the Rio Grande Valley. Their tacos are made from scratch with homemade tortillas and they are delicious! Try the carne guisado taco. You will not be disappointed. The best part is that it’s also an apple shop and the owner bakes homemade apple pies daily. Tacos and pie, you can’t go wrong. We may have to walk off our tacos and pie, so we could head out to Dallas Farmers Market for some shopping and maybe even a few snacks. There are many local artisans selling their wares and farm fresh vegetables galore. So much to see and buy. We could end the day at the Toyota Music Factory in Irving. It has so many great restaurants and bars, an outdoor pavilion, and a state-of-the art amphitheater. It is such a fun place and if we’re lucky, we could catch some great entertainment. If we need a night cap, we could head down the street to Cork & Pig. Great menu and everything is yummy. Start with the crab and parmesan dip- AMAZING! The steak salad comes with a small filet and a deviled egg. Ummm, yes!!! Try the beignets with vanilla dipping sauce for dessert. You will thank me.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to dedicate this shoutout to my husband, Jaime de la Isla. Without him, none of this would have been possible. He is my biggest supporter. He has the biggest heart and works day and night to make my dreams a reality. I can’t imagine being on this journey with anyone else but him. I also want to dedicate this shoutout to my daughter, Liliana de la Isla. Everything we do is for and because of her. Fly high, beautiful girl!
Tyler Lyons Photography Hannah Jewel Photography