From X factor to a global take over; Seen On Screen founder Bonnie Parsons on dancing to success.
By Carolyn Owlett
Dance is clearly this year’s fitness trend, from ballet to breakdance, classes are popping up all over town but with so many to choose from it can seem a little daunting to know where to start.
Seen On Screen, looks set to become the hottest place to train and having experienced a ‘’Femme’’ class, it is easy to see why. The company, started by former dancer Bonnie Parsons (X factor, JLS, Florence and the Machine) offers a variety of themed classes and workshops for all abilities in venues across London and Manchester.
From Swag Sessions to Beyoncé master classes the emphasis is clearly on having fun whilst learning routines inspired by the stars and taught by professionals. You get a thorough workout, a great laugh and of course some sassy moves in your ammunition for next time you are in the club.
With a host of TV appearances under her belt and coverage in almost every magazine on the shelves, Bonnie must be doing something right. I caught up with her to find out how aged just 27 she grew her passion into a company poised for global take over.
Bonnie how did SOS come about?
The idea came about 4 years ago when I was dancing on X factor, I realised that so many people were watching the show thinking ‘ I’d love to dance like a pop star’. There were very few commercial dance classes available so I started planning SOS.
Why do you think dancing suddenly seems so popular?
People are more aware of their health than ever before and I think dancing seems like a fun way of keeping fit. People love the idea of dancing to the kind of stuff they hear when they go out so commercial classes are really in demand.
What makes Seen On Screen different?
Unlike some other dance classes, the atmosphere in an SOS class is not intimidating, it is fun and supportive and like a little community. Our SOS Facebook page is a great example of that. We really try and go the extra mile, at the end of class we turn the lights down and everyone really goes for it, sometimes during workshops we even bring in a wind machine and costumes for extra fun!
Private party workshops have been a huge hit and we now offer a bespoke package where groups can quite literally make their own music video. 90 minutes of dance, choreographed, filmed, edited the lot – I don’t think anyone else is doing that!
What challenges have you faced setting up SOS?
The project has been self-funded and building any business from the ground up I guess is a challenge. I wasn’t from a business background so I have had to learn quickly. Not having our own venues has been a mixture of good and bad, in some ways it means we have more freedom as a business but I would love our own studios eventually.
What do you believe is the key to your success?
It’s all about the teachers. All of our teachers are my peers. They are the real deal, dancers who have worked with the biggest names in music BUT there is no ego. Everyone is chosen because they are talented and have brilliant personal skills. As they are so important I make sure I pay them well, which is unfortunately quite unusual in our industry.
What are your plans for the future of the business?
Next year I want to open SOS in New York and then ultimately turn it into a global venture.
Is SOS suitable for dancers of all abilities?
Yes totally, some classes are more advanced than others but there is a class to suit everyone. At the end of the day music videos are deceiving, most of it is illusion and it is the job of a good teacher to be able to break routines down to work for anyone and everyone in their class.
Tell us about the Red Nose Day collaboration?
We have been asked by the BBC to get involved with an enormous six hour, six thousand person, danceathon on Sunday March 8th at Wembley arena. Thirteen of the best dance teachers in the UK are taking part and two SOS crew are included. Eliot and Joelle D’Fontaine will be teaching a marathon swag and bashment workshop and some mystery celebrities have signed up, it is going to be so much fun and all for a good cause.
Can we get involved?
Yes totally, there may still be tickets available you can certainly stream the whole thing and join in!
Here at ONIN we would LOVE to see videos of you getting involved with the BBC’s Red Nose Day danceathon and we promise to post the best entries on our site.
If you like the sound of Seen on Screen then check this link for classes and bookings:
And for more information on the BBC’s Red Nose Day danceathon: