Dance Studio Business
I’ve figured out that the business side of my dance school is more than I can take. When I read your magazine, I learn about teachers who are in the same place I am, but their issues seem to be different. It’s not listening to crabby parents that bothers me; I do well with them. And it doesn’t have to do with not making a living, because I have done very well. The hard part for me is having to deal with my employees.
I have been a dance teacher for more than 40 years and have run a dance studio for 35 years. But when I was a little girl, growing up first in the Harlem projects, then in the Bronx, I could never have imagined such a life for myself.
In my years as a teacher and studio owner, I have produced more than 27 year-end recitals and at least 16 full-length story ballets. If I have learned anything about the production part of the dance business, it is that it requires two important attributes: the ability to compromise and the ability to enjoy the humor in the things that can—and always will—go wrong.
Although I discourage using the word “lose,” it’s the best way to make my point. Some of the smartest and brightest people got that way from losing many of their battles. We learn from the losing process or by not getting what we want. It’s how we improve ourselves.
When I do my seminars, I always ask, “How many of you were the best dancer in your class?” In groups as large as 500, only one or two people raise their hands, and sometimes no one does.
I’ve discovered a trend. It’s a growing disconnect between what’s said and what’s done. The frustration that arises among teachers and school owners stems from students and parents who feel that they don’t have to abide by the policies or rules set forth by their dance school, that they, or their situations, are exceptions to the rules
I am pooped and feel like quitting this business. It seems the studio is growing faster than I can keep up with, and I am exhausted with trying to keep it organized like my customers are used to. I am seriously considering selling it all and walking away.
I am one of the lucky dance teachers with a husband who supports what I do. He has dinner waiting on the table when I come home and he takes on as much responsibility with our three children as I do . . . Together we have been saving for three years to come up with a down payment for a piece of land that we know is a fantastic location for the dance school of our dreams.
Each week her dance teacher makes a snide remark that duplicates the atmosphere she has at home. She becomes even more intimidated, thinking that her dance teacher doesn’t like her. Even worse, she tells herself, “I stink at dance, too!” Before long she drops out of dance. Why go to dancing school to be berated when you can get that at home?