by Rhee Gold
Just as I admire school owners for working together to improve dance education, I have always respected UDMA’s ability to unite some of the largest and most respected vendors in the industry. Together these vendors donate thousands of dollars for National Dance Week, offer continuing education seminars for teachers and school owners, and produce the largest American trade show in the field.Read More
by Rhee Gold
Creating choreography is an opportunity to be an artist, to make a statement, or to entertain. An audience, except perhaps for dance teachers or judges, isn’t generally impressed with spectacular feats; the average audience member doesn’t even know the difficulty of a given move. However, an audience always responds positively to performances that elicit an emotional response or provoke thought.Read More
by Rhee Gold
A new year is upon us, the time when we traditionally make resolutions about things we want to change about ourselves—lose a few pounds, read more, budget better, and so on. It’s a great opportunity for studio owners and dance teachers to resolve to change their professional lives for the better too. Here are my suggestions for you to adopt and share.Read More
Let’s imagine that one town has two very good schools, and let’s say that they are roughly equal in size and that each offers a quality dance education. What could make one school stand out above the other?Read More
Children depend on us to protect them from being exploited or sexualized. In a society that appears to accept and promote the sexualization of women and girls, it’s hard to stand strong and insist—as I’ve done for decades—that dance teachers must be advocates for their students. But I believe every dance teacher must stand firm against movement, music, and choreography that inappropriately sexualize young girls.Read More
After months of attending conferences and giving speeches across the United States and Canada, I’ve discovered that there is always more to appreciate about our dance education community.
We are witnessing a time in dance history when many school owners have become smart small business owners who offer quality dance education to every child—and they are being rewarded with financial success. For dance teachers, there have never been more opportunities to teach, not only at these schools but also in a new field that has evolved, in which master teachers travel throughout North America to teach and choreograph at small-town studios. And everywhere they go, they inspire young people to pursue their dance dreams.Read More
Today school owners want to learn to lead with confidence, both in their schools and as mentors, leaders, and teachers in their communities. They want to be part of a unified voice in dance education that stands for everything that is good for their students and the field. By working together, teachers and school owners can preserve the integrity of dance education—and, on a personal level, evolve in this exciting, ever-changing world of dance and dance studios.
I am proud to lead this call to unified action by founding the International Dance Entrepreneurs Association (I.D.E.A.), the first business association for dance school owners who are ready to stand up for a business model based on a code of ethics. In addition, I.D.E.A. focuses on cultivating new knowledge—the members’ website is loaded with management tools, e-learning courses, and webinars, along with such tools as customizable forms, correspondence, policies, coloring pages, and marketing materials. Regional professional development seminars will be held around the United States and, eventually, internationally.Read More
Not too long ago, marketing at most dance schools meant investing big bucks in printing, postage, and newspaper ads. Many school owners couldn’t pay for that kind of marketing, but nowadays, social media puts all schools on a level playing field. My motto is “Give it the time, and it will give you the return.” Where many school owners make mistakes, however—and squelch their social media success—is in moving beyond dance into hot-topic issues in their posts.Read More
In my seminars I often talk about change: I believe that accepting it is key to personal and professional success. Some change is hard to accept, but some feels like a natural evolution. Some can be a little of both. That’s the case for me as Cheryl A. Ossola, after nearly a decade at the helm of Dance Studio Life, has decided to transition into a new role here. Though Cheryl has stepped down as editor in chief, she continues to provide valuable expertise and support in her new and evolving position as senior editor.Read More
Sometimes when I tell people that I believe dance can change lives, I receive skeptical reactions, especially from non-dance people. Maybe they’d change their minds if they heard about Pierson Feeney, an 11-year-old who lives in D’Iberville, Mississippi, and takes dance classes at Gulf Coast School of Performing Arts. The Kansas City Star recently reprinted a story about him, and I want to share it with you.Read More
Winning (or not) is part of competition, but the process is what offers the most gain for the kids. It bothers me when teachers, dancers, and parents can’t see the life lessons because they are so focused on winning. The high level of commitment expected of today’s competitive dancers is an excellent teacher of how to balance demands (of academics and of dance), to understand sacrifice, to appreciate the results of hard work, and so much more.
During this competition season, then, let’s all recognize the process as much as we do the outcome.Read More
There are many ways to evaluate a dance school. We might first think of the merit of the faculty or training. Or we might consider the awards won; the number of students who move on to the professional world; the quality of the customer service, organization, and professionalism; or other factors.
To me, though, quality is reflected most in the atmosphere and spirit of the community created within the school, especially among the intensive dancers. Instinctively, at a performance or in the classroom, I can feel whether (or not) the kids get along with and respect each other. Competitiveness or jealousy aren’t simply inward emotions felt by those who possess them—the actions, emotions, or distractions that they can create usually seep out to affect the classroom and sometimes an entire school.Read More
It’s a new year, and I’ll bet you have some sort of self-improvement goals for 2016. If one of them is to become a better teacher, try this: imagine that each time you enter your school you are walking in the stage door, prepared to give the best performance possible.Read More
As we prepare to head into 2016, I am thrilled to launch a concept that has been dancing around in my mind for more than five years: an international business conference and association for dance school owners. This dream will become a reality with the first I.D.E.A. (International Dance Educators Association) conference, held July 30 through August 1, 2016, at The Phoenician, a luxurious resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. With many respected dance teacher organizations offering high-quality dance conventions, master classes, teacher training, and competition or performance opportunities, I.D.E.A. will take a different tack, focusing on the development and implementation of high business and ethical standards.Read More
We all have opinions. And sometimes, when they’re on topics that have the potential to affect large groups of people, our perspective can be controversial. When I know that’s the case, I try to convey mine in a non-judgmental way, hoping to stir up thoughtful debate rather than offend people who disagree with me. Recently I stood strong on an issue, and I made some enemies.Read More
I’m writing this two days after the 2015 DanceLife Teacher Conference, our biggest and best yet. Each time we produce this event I’m overwhelmed by the amount of work that goes into it—and each time, as it concludes, I forget about the work because I’m overwhelmed by the enthusiasm, spirit, and generosity of the hundreds of dance teachers and studio owners who spend those four or five days with us, immersed in dance.Read More
For most dance teachers, this time of year—the beginning of a new dance season—marks a fresh start. You’ll welcome back students who are growing up before your eyes, and you’ll see many new faces, students who will experience the excitement of dance for the first time.Read More
In this issue’s “Ask Rhee Gold” column, I advise a school owner on how to approach a delicate situation. You’ve all encountered complex issues among your students’ families—divorces, deaths, substance abuse, and so on. But as our world changes, so do its complexities. The question this woman asked isn’t one that any of us would have heard even five years ago, but it’s likely to become more common.
The advice sought was about how to respond to—and how to explain to other students and their parents—a young transgender student’s request to be recognized as Jessica rather than as Josh.Read More
I’ve been in the dance education field for a long time, and over the years I’ve noticed some changes, particularly in regard to student performances. Long before the current generation started dancing for awards, generations of young dancers performed for something quite simple: applause.Read More
Heading into 2015, I’m consumed with the logistics and planning for the next DanceLife Teacher Conference, coming up in late July/early August. To judge by this year’s roster of faculty and speakers, the theme for the 2015 DLTC should be “over the top.” In the two years between these events I run into many impressive people whose knowledge and skills would be perfect for the conference, and this time I went a little overboard. While creating the conference’s schedule (a daunting month-long project), I realized that accommodating a faculty of 38 and more than 125 classes, seminars, and special events meant expanding to four ballrooms. “Over the top” we go!Read More
Running a business requires many skills. It also requires good instincts and a willingness to act on them. Take the case of Maura, a successful school owner. Her weaknesses are a fear of confrontation and a tendency to be too trusting—and too willing to squelch her intuition.Read More
Those of you who have attended my seminars for dance teachers and school owners know that I rant about the “grab-the-foot-and-yank-the-leg-to-the-ear” move we all see at every dance competition and on TV. “It’s the way to show a good extension,” a teacher once told me. I don’t agree.Read More
In today’s business world, there’s plenty of talk about mission statements and branding and logos, and most of us accept that those are desirable and necessary components of a business’ identity—and even of its success. Sometimes, instead of a formal mission statement, a tag line suffices—a succinct, often catchy description of what’s most essential about the business. It might not be in print anywhere, but it’s in the business owner’s head; in the case of a school owner, it usually sums up why that person has chosen dance education for a career. Dance Studio Life has a tag line too: “dedicated to quality dance education.” If you asked me to tell you what that means to me, you’d probably get quite a speech.Read More