August 2013 | On My Mind

Word from the publisher

I have always believed that attitude has everything to do with success. School owners who have a bad attitude—even when they have a huge marketing budget, the best faculty, and a school that offers excellent training—will not achieve the same level of success as do those whose love for dance shows in everything they do.

Dance Studio Life recently sent a survey to school owners that gave them the option to leave a comment. Hundreds did, and many of them, even those who are not doing as well financially as they would like to, expressed joy in teaching dance.

One very unhappy school owner’s response reminded me of a comment I had received the year before; it turns out that the same person wrote both of them. I understand that the dance-education business is not always easy, and that dance schools must compete with the many activities available to children. But why not compete with those activities with a constructive mind-set?

That teacher wrote: “Our baby classes are no longer viable; their retention is two or three years at best. Their moms pull them as soon as they start doing musical-theater shows or sports in their local schools. Entire classes are crammed onto the stage because it has become a free afterschool babysitter service/homework hall, a boon to stressed working parents. However, they’re not allowed a single absence, so the kids can’t come to my studio once a week for an $11 dance class. The parents consider swaying on a stage, in three shows per year, dance training.

“My dance recitals and Nutcracker are no longer a draw,” she continued, “thanks to these ‘Broadway’ shows, which the local schools have discovered are big moneymakers. The program books are overflowing with parents’ ads.”

She ended on a note of despair: “I have tried everything to stay solvent, but my costs go up while my enrollment goes down. I may have to close my school; my dream dance career has turned into a nightmare. I would appreciate your addressing this in future issues.”

The same survey brought a very different response from another teacher: “I am living a dream every day! I wake up thinking I have the best job and business ever. The babies’ smiles and innocence make my heart melt. The older ones are not as easy, but they teach me how to be a better teacher; I learn new ways to break through with them. The music makes me happy too. My studio is growing and I know it’s because we are so positive.”

If you were looking for a dance school for your child and read these comments, I’ll bet I know which school you would choose.

Some people spend their lives wallowing in the negative, which often deters others from wanting to be a part of their world. No matter how hard the struggle may be, those who have the right attitude and who grow and learn from their circumstances are often the most successful. We all have choices in life. Enjoy the journey.