Vancouver Samba School
Vancouver Samba School (VSS) is established by Yulia Terekh, international dancer, performer, teacher and capoeira martial artist. VSS mission is to build a community of passionate samba dancers and students in Vancouver and BC, to support all interested in learning about samba and Afro-Brazilian culture in general; to offer dance lessons and space for sharing the beauty of samba; to show by example that samba unites and is opened for everyone. VSS operates 5 days a week offering private classes, functional and fitness training and Brazilian Samba dance lessons and shows. We support Samba community & teachers in Brazil, internationally and locally and dream about bringing every student to Rio Carnival. VSS also contributes to local dance communities with shows, performances and free classes.
In Business Since 2019
Best Community Impact
What motivated you to start your business and what core cause do you support?
It has always been my dream to teach dance and fitness, to organize events, perform and motivate people. After dancing Samba for the first time I felt a need to do it more and more of it in my life, but I could not find a school or teacher to train with. So, I decided that one day I will open my own school. Since day one of learning about Afro-Brazilian culture, I wanted to share with the world and show all the possibilities that community involvement in foreign culture can bring. Brazilian dance, martial arts, music, events, teachers, singers have inspired me so much that I could not resist, but opened Vancouver Samba School to share with others when the opportunity presented itself.
Why do you deserve to win the Best Community Impact award?
Vancouver Samba School is run by one person, but it would not be successful without its community and students. As a founder, I have received a lot of support from local dance and cultural communities, dance studios, new students and international teachers and dancers. In return, I've have decided to share my knowledge of samba, Afro-Brazilian culture and dance in overall and committed to motivate and inspire others to dive in and explore a new world. It is one thing to be passionate about something that is not a mainstream, and another big task to step onto the road of representing it, taking risks and responsibilities, and putting a community together.
Best Immigrant Entrepreneur
Please tell us your personal story and about your business. How you started, and how you have overcome challenges.
I have landed to Canada as an international student pursuing business career and have been through major failures, financial crisis almost every year, 90 days notices to leave the country and in general a very difficult road of receiving my citizenship. The main relief came only in 2019 when I got what I was aiming for and also opened Vancouver Samba School. Since the first year in Vancouver, I got involved into Afro-Brazilian, capoeira community that has changed my life. At Grupo Axe Capoeira I have learnt and continue training capoeira, found all my best friends, started learning about Brazil and its culture, travelled around the world and got introduced to samba and other Brazilian dances. For five years straight I was dreaming about dancing more, learning samba, teaching samba, creating costumes, going to dance congresses and organizing a samba congress in Vancouver. In 2 years ago I decided that it was time to stop just dreaming and start doing. The process started from choosing the name, creating logo from scratch, finding studios to teach at, contacting Brazilian teachers to get more training and reference, purchasing a lot of costumes that cost a fortune and finally marketing the classes and finding new students. It still feels like a rough & bumpy road, because samba dance is not as popular as other mainstream styles, it costs a lot and makes little when you start. However, I have never lost my “why” and reasons why I started, why I wanted it for so long. I have never lost my drive, passion and interest to learn more. And every time I hear a positive feedback or see a smile in my students faces, I get reassured that I am on the right track. Samba does heal and makes life brighter.
Why do you deserve to win the Best Immigrant Entrepreneur award?
Vancouver Samba School is run by one person, but it would not be successful without its community and students. As a founder, I have started from being a financially broken international student and an immigrant with a lot of paperwork to do, but I have never feared learning, exploring, working and going through challenges and losses. When in 2019 I decided to open Vancouver Samba School as a business, I have received great support from local dance and cultural communities, dance studios, new students and international teachers and dancers. This is when I realized that we all understand what it takes to be new, to be an immigrant, to be broken, but to still pursue your dreams. I've have decided to share my knowledge of samba, Afro-Brazilian culture and dance in overall and committed myself to motivate and inspire others to dive in and explore a new world and to stay active, healthy and happy. It is one thing to be passionate about something that is not a mainstream, and another big task to step onto the road of representing it, taking risks and responsibilities, putting a community together and growing from just an immigrant to a business owner. I know I am on my way.