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Ask Rhee Gold

Ask Rhee GoldAdvice for dance teachers

Dear Rhee,

I have the chance to buy a building that has been foreclosed on. Is someone who is closer to age 60 than 50 nuts to buy? I couldn’t teach for three weeks this spring when I had surgery, and I discovered that there is no way I am ready to retire. I still love it too, too much!

From my estimates, it looks like it would cost $200 to $300 more per month to own rather than rent, but I’d build up equity while doing so. I’m thinking I would have a semi-viable dance studio and building to sell when I do retire (about 30 years from now!). Otherwise, all I have is a class list that is worth about nothing in a small town. —Mary Ann

Hello Mary Ann,

No, I don’t think “closer to 60 than 50” is too old to purchase a building. There is no age limit on improving your circumstances or doing something you’ve dreamed of for a long time. And since the sale is a foreclosure, it’s probably a good deal. I do think the economy will recover (ever so slowly) and you just might be making a great investment in some retirement money if the value of the property goes up. (I don’t think it would drop lower at this point.) If the difference between rent and mortgage payments is only a few hundred dollars, I say go for it.

But before you do, have someone inspect the property to give you a realistic concept of the cost you’ll incur in making repairs and remodeling this space into what you need it to be. Also, do inquire about an estimated monthly cost for utilities, insurance, and any other potential costs. I wish you all the best. —Rhee

Dear Rhee,

My entire life has been all about dance. In my early 20s I opened the school of my dreams, and with the help of a loyal faculty and staff I have built a successful business with more than 500 students. Now I am 37 and beginning to see that I have missed out on some things because my focal point has always been dance and my students.

The father of one of my students has asked me out. He is single, but I turned him down because it has been 15 years since I’ve dated. I just haven’t had that on my mind because I am committed to my school, and I don’t know if it is appropriate to date a parent of a student. He has sent me cards and flowers for the recital, my birthday, and the first day of classes. Sometimes when he is at the studio he takes out the trash and helps my office staff.

I was uncomfortable with it at first, but he is so nice and sincere that I have grown to appreciate his kindness. My staff knows that he would like to take me out and they are always telling me that I am nuts not to do it, but I’m scared of what people will say if they know I’m dating a dad from my school. Also, I wonder what his daughter would think. Another thing that makes me nervous is that everyone who works for me knows about this and I’d like to keep my personal life private.

I am thinking of saying yes to the date, because I would like a life outside of the studio. This man’s attention has opened my mind to the things that I have missed out on. Is it appropriate for me to do this, or is it out of line? —Happy But Confused

Dear Happy,

This is the first time I’ve felt like “Dear Abby,” but I’m going to tackle it with my honest opinion. Your dedication to your studio and students is a testament to your passion for dance, but we all need a life outside of dance and you deserve the chance to explore the world outside of your business. Although I would be discreet about it, I think you should go out with this guy.

You can determine how much you want to share with your employees. I do think you should keep your personal life separate from the business, but don’t let that stop you in this situation. This guy obviously appreciates who you are and what you do, and that tells me he is sincere in his respect for you.

Speaking of his daughter, there is no reason that your proper teacher–student relationship should change unless things get more serious. And if that becomes the case, I have a feeling you can handle it.

Stop coming up with excuses and do this for yourself. You have worked hard, and that dedication has obviously worked to your benefit and the benefit of your dancers. Pat yourself on the back for that, but don’t eliminate the outside possibilities that could also make you happy. Go on the date and have a blast. Good luck! —Rhee

Dear Rhee,

I teach many children who love to dance but who will probably never get past an intermediate level because of all the other commitments they have or because they just like to dance for fun and exercise, which is totally fine with me. But about two years ago a student entered our school with something special. She always picks up the movement really quickly and instinctively knows body lines and technique. I see an innate quality that shouts out that she could be a great dancer.

My problem is that she is in classes with students who are not that serious or who do not have a similar level of natural talent. I’m feeling like my school is holding her back and that I need to send her to a more serious school. However, when I discuss this with her other teachers at my school, they all tell me that it would be embarrassing to send her somewhere else. They think I would be making it clear to the parents at our school that we can’t offer training to really good students.

I see the teachers’ side of the argument, but I feel guilty that I am not pushing this student to the next level, which I can’t give her at my school. She loves to dance and works very hard, and I try to give her special attention after class is over—but I know she could do so much more.

I don’t want my students or their parents to believe that I am not offering them the best training I can, but I know they are getting from my school what they need. And I know this girl should move on. Are my teachers right? —Lori

Hi Lori,

You are an admirable teacher and school owner, and the teachers who are telling you that you should be embarrassed need to think long and hard about what is right for this child and not their egos. Please send this child to a school that can give her what she needs, and stay in touch with her so you can proudly follow her on the dance journey you inspired.

Don’t ever second-guess yourself when you know you are doing what’s right for a child. Your heart is in the right place. Brava to you for having the confidence to know what you do best and the understanding that we all must do the right thing. —Rhee


One Response to “Ask Rhee Gold”

  • I think that Lori’s decision to send the dancer where should could get the proper training is awesome. Our decisions about our young dancers may affect their future one way or another. That young dancer will always remember Lori for helping her to make the best dance education decision that will help her to dance at the highest level of excellence. Hats off to an excellent teacher!

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August 2012
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