Meet Aileen Panke & Daniel Nery dos Santos, the co-owners of Bahia in Motion in Fremont. Aileen and Daniel met in a dance class in Salvador, Bahia Brazil. They brought their commitment to a healthy body, mind, and spirit to Seattle and opened Bahia in Motion, teaching Brazilian dance and Capoeira. They also co-own Balance Studio, the brick-and-mortar location where they hold all of their classes, workshops, and events. Balance Studio is also the home for other independent dance, yoga, and massage practitioners.
Get to know more about Aileen and Bahia in Motion in this week’s Business Spotlight Q&A.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What is your favorite part of the community your business is in and why?
Since 2008, our business has been driven by the belief that individuals and families thrive when they feel healthy, engaged, and part of something larger than themselves-especially with cultures outside their own. Balance Studio is not only a place where people come to get a good workout. It is a meeting place for all ages and cultures to connect, restore, and grow. It is a place where people have met their soul mates, forged life-long friendships, found support to endure the loss of a loved one, performed with international artists, had their marriages and babies blessed, and launched their new business. It’s a place where people create balance, heal, and find joy. Fremont has historically been an eclectic community where artists converge, collaborate, and challenge us to think outside the box. We absolutely love the building our studio is in: A bright yellow house with plum trees, cherry trees, rose bushes, hearty NW ferns and pine trees, and hummingbirds that visit us even in the wintertime! When folks came back to our studio for the first time this year, many of them looked around and calmly said “I’m back home”.
As a business owner, what’s the strangest or craziest idea you’ve ever tried?
When COVID first hit and our studio shut down, we were not sure how our business was going to survive but MORE importantly, we knew our community would need the healing power of the arts and human connection more than ever. The Saturday after the initial shutdown, I shot up in bed early in the morning and yelled to Daniel “We’re going to go online!” He raised his eyebrows and said, “What?” I yelled out again “We’re going online” Daniel and I had no idea what this was going to entail apart from a Zoom account I had just opened a few months before to do some online communication with a friend. Slowly we began to piece things together and within 10 days of the shutdown, we were one of the first studios in Seattle to offer classes 6 days a week via a virtual format to our community. Students slowly emerged from all over the U.S. and on 6 continents. It was nothing we could have ever imagined pre-pandemic.
What’s something your customer may not know about you and your business?
Daniel and I met in a dance class in Salvador, Bahia Brazil. I (Aileen) had moved to Brazil to follow my heart’s calling to live a life led by my love of the arts. I sold everything, left my job as a Public Health Program Manager, and stepped into the unknown. 17 years later, we are continuing our journey as business owners with a mission to build community and help transform life’s challenges through the healing power of the arts and human connection. We are humbly grateful for the incredible support our community has shown us over the years and especially to our family and friends who believed in us.