Summer Inspiration on a Shoestring

For studio owners and dance teachers, summer’s inevitable slowdown means that we finally have time to recharge our batteries and reboot for a new season. Every summer, opportunities abound for continuing education—a dizzying number of dance classes, teaching seminars, conventions, and conferences to choose from. But what if those are out of reach this year? What if you have a tight budget, or you can’t travel, or the timing is bad—or all of the above?

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Introspective Leadership

Most studio owners have become experts at a diverse array of tasks: generating new ideas, maintaining mailing lists, sending out newsletters, updating websites, devising marketing plans, and scheduling, emailing, choreographing, costuming, and handling studio conflicts. Most of the time our efforts yield positive outcomes—what we wanted and expected. But sometimes the results are weak or even negative. Why? How does that happen, and why are we caught off-guard when it does?

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On My Mind | July 2010

For thousands of teachers and school owners, the start of summer is a time to brainstorm, to plot and dream about everything they want to achieve during the upcoming dance season. It’s a time to look back on the lessons of the past year—some learned the hard way and others in a flash, those light-bulb moments that make us wonder why we didn’t think of that idea years ago. It’s through the live-and-learn process that we become better at what we do.

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Friends, Fans, and Followers

It’s never been easier to get the word out about your studio. School owners now have a plethora of online marketing opportunities to choose from to reach students and parents, including popular social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Learning how to put online marketing to use may seem daunting, but dance studio owners can harness the power of social media to help build their businesses. All it takes is a little research, experimentation, and effort.

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All Together Now

You know that great feeling of walking into your studio and realizing that all is well? Teachers are excited about teaching, the dancers are happy, and the office staff greets you with a smile. Wouldn’t you like to re-create this team atmosphere every day? You can—by creating a comfortable workplace where your employees feel appreciated for what they bring to the organization and are inspired to work for you for many years to come.

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Ask Rhee Gold | May-June 2010

Dear Rhee,
We live in a very small town in Kentucky. For more than 36 years we were the only studio in town. Now a girl from out of town is opening up a studio and my students and their parents are asking all kinds of questions, like “Did you know there is a new studio?” I really don’t know how to respond to them. It’s hard to know whether to have faith in my parents to do the right thing and stay with me or say something now to try to prevent them going. Any advice? I have been up nights worrying about this. Dance dollars are few with the struggling economy, and now having to compete with a new place is causing me great stress. Thanks so much! —Patricia

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Ask Rhee Gold | December 2008

Dear Rhee, I have a student who has a mischievous side that seems to come out when she is at my school and, from what I understand, at public school too. She does things like drop mean notes in the other students’ dance bags. Sometimes she calls them fat or ugly and is always just plain mean. She never signs her name to the notes, but we have determined that it is her because of the handwriting.

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Recitals on a Shoestring

When it comes to recital time, do you dream about putting on that perfect fantasy production? Well, think again—it might actually be the right time to consider cutting back. “Cut back!” you say. “Forget it! Last year’s recital was really good and I am going to have to do something to top it.” But cutting back on recital expenses might be the best business move you could ever make.

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There’s Only One You

No two people are alike, so it follows that no two businesses are alike either. There might be a dozen dance studios in the country with identical names, all of which offer jazz, tap, and lyrical, but if you look beyond the surface, each is distinct. What makes them so? You, the school owners, that’s who. You are unique and your one-of-a-kind personality infuses your business. If there’s one idea I came away with after spending four days with roughly 500 dance teachers at the DanceLife Teacher Conference last summer, it’s that each dance studio is different.

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Teaching for Healthy Bodies

“Break a leg!” The theatrical well wish for actors and dancers has an irony that often escapes young performers. Indeed, for most young, healthy dancers, the possibility of injury feels remote and doesn’t factor greatly into their daily routine. For their older, more experienced teachers, however, the reality of injury and the desire to prevent it create a serious responsibility.

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Dancing for Dollars

Owners of dance studios that participate in competitions know that to do well requires hard work, good choreography, and dedicated and talented dancers. So when you hear “And the first-place winner is . . .” and your studio’s name is called, you have reason to be excited and proud of your accomplishments. It’s likely that a lot of people participated in making that number first rate: the teachers who gave the students good technique, the studio owner who provided them with the opportunity to compete, the choreographer who shared his or her creativity with them—and of course the students themselves, who carried out the assignment effectively.

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Give and Take

Do you love being an independent professional? Do you relish the freedom, the flexible hours, and the 4:00 p.m. naps? Sure, but chances are you don’t savor the quarterly taxation and high start-up costs, and most likely you will miss out on the paid vacations, insurance benefits, sick leave, and other pluses that employees enjoy. There isn’t much you can do to avoid the taxes, but there is a way for you to squeeze by the other pitfalls. Are you looking for a creative way to save money or, better yet, not deal with money at all?

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Terpsichorean Calendar

For dance teachers, enduring a year feels like being stuck on a warped carousel. Through the ups and downs, there is no way to keep it from spinning or to slow it down. For the most part, the ride is fun and exciting—you never know what is around the next turn. But since dance teachers do not live the same kind of life as people in other professions, why should we adhere to the same calendar? I’ve devised one with a more realistic view of our year, plus some suggestions to make it more suited for our nontraditional needs.

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Ask Rhee Gold | March-April 2008

Hi Rhee,
I have been an owner/director of a studio for 16 years. I have had a group of teens for a while now, my competition team, who are pretty dedicated, good kids. One of them is the daughter of one of my teachers. That teacher told me that a girl who is very negative and disrespectful is upsetting her daughter, and she mentioned going to another studio if her daughter is not happy here.

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Young Entrepreneurs

Young people today have many options when it comes to entrepreneurial careers, and owning a dance studio is a popular one. Considering its physicality and long hours, it’s a career that seems to suit the young quite well. Fearlessness and technical savvy come into play as well. The following people contributed their stories, expertise, and wisdom.

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New York and the Nobletts

“Most people come to find their fortune in New York City at age 21. I did it in reverse. I came during middle age,” says Toni Noblett with a laugh. “It is amazing that you can do something completely different with your life at age 55.” Two years ago the dance teacher sold the studio that she had operated for 25 years in Roxboro, NC, and moved to New York City.

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