Owner Carlos Rangel opened the store in November of 2002 with a unique approach, a direct reflection of his experiences and education. Having spent his childhood in Caracas, Venezuela, he gained a respect and understanding for the arts from his parents who were culturally involved. In the United States, while learning architecture and photography at Pratt Institute, he enhanced his knowledge of the arts by studying Sensory Awareness, a four-year course consisting of modern dance and yoga. For the past ten years, Rangel has watched his daughter develop her own love for ballet making his participation with the arts never ending.
Skilled in many areas of business, Rangel opened his dancewear store in South Florida. An altruistic and passionate man, he decided that his dancewear store would be more than just a place to buy leotards. The store’s mission statement, “to celebrate through our products and services the beauty of dance and the pursuit of physical and mental discipline and well-being” truly speaks for the business’s ultimate goal.
In addition to carrying a variety of dancewear brands such as Mirella, Danskin, Dancerags, and Body Wrappers to name a few, Rangel believes that his store should include “not only the idea of clothing but anything related to the arts.” The store carries pointe shoes such as Bloch, Freed, and Gaynor Minden, jazz and tap shoes including So Danca, Leo’s, and Bloch, and character shoes by So Danca. The shelves are full with books, videos, and art work that all reveal the presence of the arts beyond tap shoes and jazz pants. According to Rangel, he has books for “every group interested” to promote all areas of the arts. For example, he has a selection of books that specifically target the aspiring male dancers to give them positive role models and stories to which they can relate.
Attitude Dancewear and Arts looks not only to assist dancers with the proper attire and morale, but also to instill in dancers proper health and nutrition. From pointe shoes to eating disorders, Rangel wants to make sure dancers are treating their bodies correctly. The store is equipped with a small wood floor, a wooden barre, and a pseudo-mirror to ensure that shoes are being fitted correctly. A scholar of the arts, he knows that not all students are suited to go on pointe and that not all professional dancers wear pointe shoes. He explains, “I tell them not all ballerinas go on pointe,” hoping to encourage the exploration of dance while looking out for students’ wellbeing. Rangel also advocates proper nutritional education in dancers and soon hopes to have a nutrition specialist for children with whom to travel to nearby dance schools promoting the importance of good health and body preservation.
It is hard to imagine, but Rangel’s
good deeds go even further. He believes in always giving of himself and his
merchandise to the community and those in need. The store donates a part of its sales to local arts programs. Already he has assisted the International Ballet Company Community Outreach Dance Program and Mrs. P’s Dance and Acrobatic Studio. Rangel explains, “We like to give and support as much as we can,” hoping to emerge as a strong presence in the community. In addition, he attends many local shows and performances to photograph the dancers. Coupling his photography background with his knowledge of the arts, he is able to capture the most beautiful moments in dance execution and performance. Many of his best works line the walls of the store and the others he gives directly to the schools for keepsake.
Becoming so positively connected with local dance schools and programs, he has established a small network of dance related contacts. “We are building up as much as we can,” he says. Having been in business for only one year, Rangel has personal contacts with artistic directors, theaters, and arts related organizations. Dancers from all over the South Florida area have heard about Attitude Dancewear and Arts and flock to his store to see what the hype is about. And when they arrive, they instantly become enchanted by this dancer’s playground.
Using his architecture background, Rangel designed the store inside and out. The store can be described as quaint and cozy with the decorative artwork adorning the colorful walls. The most fascinating area, however, are the fitting rooms. Rangel designed this area to look like backstage theater wings. The three fitting rooms each have a curtain for privacy and a three-way mirror inside. In the center of the store is the mini dance floor, which makes trying on shoes easy and fun. Cute couches perimeter the area so moms and dads can relax while their children immerse themselves in dance related merchandise. Rangel’s design style comes from his desire to make the shopping aspect of dance just as much fun as the physical. “We want to make it as much fun as it can be!” he exclaims.
Attitude Dancewear and Arts is fun. The fun, however, goes beyond the obvious qualities such as the store’s welcoming appearance, the comprehensive merchandise, and the knowledgeable employees. Carlos Rangel is not only a business owner, but also he is also a lover of dance in all its forms and that makes the difference. He believes that his job goes beyond ringing up the purchases and saying “Have a nice day.” He believes in his duty to be a community leader and patron for the arts in any and all ways possible. He truly has the right attitude. •