August 2016 | On My Mind

Words from the publisher

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.

Photo by Mim Adkins

Photo by Mim Adkins

Within the dance community, it’s easy to think it’s fine to be open about our allegiances—after all, acceptance is a common bond in the dance world, whether of the LGBTQ community or ethnic and religious groups. We believe that the music and the movement break through all the barriers, and it’s often true—but not always, and only to a point. Maintaining a policy of non-discrimination when it comes to your students and staff is not only ethical; it’s good for your business. On the other hand, going on a diatribe about a political candidate, while satisfying, probably won’t do your business any favors and could do some harm.

Many of you reach thousands of people—not only clients and their families but the community and, in many cases, the national dance scene of master teachers and choreographers, acquaintances, and lifelong friends. When you voice your opinions about social and political issues, chances are excellent that you are alienating some of those people. Don’t get me wrong—I wholeheartedly support freedom of speech. But I also recognize that such freedom means that people have the right to disagree with me.

The broad reach of social media makes it likely that a significant percentage of your clients and associates holds political views that are different from yours, and these people are as emotionally attached to their beliefs as you are to yours. Simply voicing your political allegiances might alienate these people, while others might fear that your beliefs are reflected in your classrooms. The problem is more about perception than reality.

In this stormy election year, everyone in the U.S. is fired up about politics and the future of our country. I get it—but I think, in our “tell-all” society, some common-sense rules apply. “Keep politics out of your professional life” is one I’m sticking with. That way I won’t alienate anyone I do business with, and I can indulge myself in political arguments with my family and friends—in the privacy of our personal space.

DSL publisher Rhee Gold has owned a dance competition, presided over national dance teaching organizations, and founded Project Motivate. His book, The Complete Guide to Teaching Dance, is in its second printing.