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Rhee’s Blog | Advice: New School Owner-Competition

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Hi Rhee,

I’m a new school owner about to enter my second season. Last year we competed in three dance competitions and a national competition last summer. The problem is that most of my entries didn’t score very well because I have a slew of beginners.

Each time we went to a competition, I lost at least one student to various schools from my area that competed in the same competitions we did. Next year, I want to do more competitions, but I don’t want to lose students to the schools who have been competing for years. Should I hire outside choreographers or maybe bring in someone to coach my kids?

Dear Marjorie,

Don’t take this the wrong way, but honesty is my best policy . . . what the heck are you doing competing in the first place? It’s one thing to go to observe a competition to see what’s going on or taking your students to see a competition to inspire them, but there is no way your students are ready to actually compete with the schools who’ve been competing for years. In my opinion it takes 5-10 years before students are prepared for the rigors of competition.

You need to rethink your goal of opening a school for the purpose of competing and forget about winning. Your goal should be to teach beginner students how to dance. As I always say, competition is only a part of what we do, not all we do.

Slow down, forget about competition for now, and figure out how to build your business. Remember advanced dancers don’t just walk in the door. You build them slowly from basic movement to a more advanced level each year. This process takes time.

If you don’t change your goal to something like attracting preschool students or teaching simply the basics, I’m afraid you’re going to continue to lose students. Opening a new school should be motivated by your passion to offer every child the opportunity to experience the wonderful world of dance, and not to win trophies. —Rhee

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4 Responses to “Rhee’s Blog | Advice: New School Owner-Competition”

  • Deb:

    Rhee,
    Great advice. Let the students grow and become dancers. Other options follw.

  • Great advice, Rhee. Our studio is also very new. We entered a competition our first year, just for fun and to inspire a few dancers who mentioned to us that they wanted to start competing. We entered a fun hip hop piece from recital. We found a local competition that allowed us to compete by experience divisions rather than throwing them in the den with seasoned competitior. We won with our one dance and the experience was quite an eye opener for the dancers. We basked in our glory, went back to our studio and trained and organized. The next year our newly organized performance/competition team performed in our community so the dancers could gain performance experience and the next year we started competing. We are in our third year of competing and we still mix performing for the community and competing. We are still training and attend one convention and one competition. The rest of the year we focus on training and performing in our community. This helps keep expenses down and helps the dancers sharpen their skills in less competitive environments.

  • I also agree, and I own a competition. Listen to Rhee, and grow your business. Competitions are there for all, coventions as well. Allow your young dancers to know that there is more to dance than competitions! Let them study, and develop as a group, then take them in to the world and have a blast. There is no formula for success as a studio owner. Let your dancers develop and then bring them out when they are truly ready…..

    Yours in Dance,

    Dan Barris
    Dancers Inc.

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