Rachel Werner Shapiro is the owner of Lincoln Park Dance and Move and is a new mom this year!  My niece takes classes at this bright & inviting studio, and after her first class my brother-in-law proclaimed “that women knows what she’s doing!”.  Rachel has a way of being passionate about teaching, while keeping it fun and engaging for kids of all ages.  Her studio was just what the quant block of Webster and Racine in Lincoln Park needed, and it fits perfectly within the rest of the family friendly shops and restaurants in the area!  We are excited to feature Rachel as our Meet a Mom of the week!
How many kids do you have and what are their ages? 

We have an 8 month old son – who has been crawling, climbing, and keeping us very busy during this Shelter-In-Place.

What do you love about living in Chicago? 

We love living in the city!  There is always something to do or explore – and the people are great because it’s the Midwest.  We love having quick access to downtown (shopping, museums, the lakefront), while also experiencing the neighborhood-like feel here in Lincoln Park!

What Neighborhood is your favorite to explore?

Personally, I love Lincoln Park!  It’s home, we have our favorite restaurants and shops, and it’s easy to walk around.  We also love checking out the art shops in Logan Square – and the new restaurants of the West Loop!

What are your favorite restaurants and local finds to shop?

We have so many favorites!  We love to dine in LP at Summer House, Homeslice, and Athenian Room  – and take-out from Dee’s, Bird’s Nest, and Sal’s Trattoria. I also love swinging into Art Effect for gifts, Monica & Andy for baby clothes, and Lori’s for shoes!

What’s your favorite thing to do when you need some “me time”?

I love catching up with friends or grabbing dinner at a new restaurant.  Lately, with our current situation, my “me time” has been trying to learn a new recipe or carving out a little time for a workout or dance class (virtual of course).

Tell us about Lincoln Park Dance and Move.  How did you get started?

Lincoln Park Dance + Move is a children’s dance studio in the heart of Lincoln Park. We strive to be a fun, open space where students can explore dance and movement in an inviting environment. We believe that technique is the foundation for a successful dance career – and begin incorporating in our youngest of classes. We work to build a technical foundation, while keeping classes fun and encouraging.

Before opening LPDM, I was working in digital marketing and teaching at CorePower Yoga – and missed dancing and working with children. I had danced all throughout my childhood and later danced on the University of Michigan Dance Team and Chicago Bulls Dance Team (Luvabulls). Taking from my experiences teaching, assistant teaching, and helping with dance camps, I opened Lincoln Park Dance + Move! It was time for me to help share my love of dance with others and encourage students to do the same!

With everything in the world coming to a halt recently, how have you pivoted in running your business?  How are you staying connected?  

This time has certainly challenged us to think outside of the box! We miss our students so much – and miss seeing them in the studio! Since 3/23, we’ve pivoted to an online modified virtual schedule. The classes are listed on Eventbrite and are pay-what-you-can. We have also rolled out free on-demand content on our YouTube page so dancers can keep on moving on their own time. Our instructors have been on top of creating little snippets (dance moves of the day, other content) for social media to help keep students engaged.

How do you juggle your business with mom life?

As a newer mom, I am certainly still learning how to balance! I have been lucky (so far) that our little guy can nap on-the-go – which definitely helps when in and out of the studio. I’ve just had to become more efficient at whatever task I am doing – i.e. committing to my to-do-list when opening up my laptop, setting my phone down and being present when reading stories to our little guy, etc.  Luckily, my husband has been super helpful in terms of childcare when I spend my afternoons, evenings, and weekends at the studio!

What are some things people would be surprised to know about you?

I had a very small run in sports through late elementary school.  I won a “Hoop Shoot” contest in gym class and got to compete with other schools in the area. I showed up wearing my dance attire to the contest and that was the end of that!

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten from another mom?

When I was pregnant, I had a mom from the studio say “Don’t sweat the small stuff – seriously”. It’s so hard to fully grasp what that means until you’re actually in the thick of it as a mother. Letting go of planning or being in control of every aspect of the day has taken some time – but the advice was spot on, the small stuff really doesn’t matter at the end of the day!

What’s the best advice you would give to another Chicago mom?

I think just knowing that every mom’s role (whether stay-at-home, working full time, working part time) is challenging – and that we all share that. Rewarding, 100% – but also challenging! Our responsibilities and identities shift and it certainly takes some getting used to. I remember during some of my son’s earlier days (and even now!) ending the day feeling discouraged that I only felt like I was able to fulfill my “roles” about 75% (i.e. being a mom, friend, wife, business owner, etc). But, instead of being let down by that, I had to learn to re-reframe my way of thought to acknowledge that maybe it wasn’t 100% in my mind, but I still did a bunch in a day. Knowing that every mom goes through these types of challenges is hugely important. Once I realized this, I didn’t feel as alone – and it enabled me to ask for tips / connect with other Mamas in a similar spot!

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