By Thelma Goldberg
Adult tap classes are a great way to boost enrollment and build your studio’s presence in the community. Whether you aim for a recreational program or an expansion of your company, adult tap dancers will bring enthusiasm, dedication, and long-term support to your studio’s programming.
First, consider your market and resources. Will your audience be young working professionals, mothers looking for a morning class, or middle-aged and senior adults? Do you have an experienced tap teacher who enjoys working with adults and has a great sense of humor?
An adult tap program requires an experienced and dedicated teacher who can work well with mixed ages and levels. My adult program students range in age from 16 to 87, and although I now offer three levels and four classes a week, I initially had one class. Being able to accommodate a wide range of personalities and abilities is key to building a strong adult tap program.
Getting them in the door
Thirty years after starting my program, I now have 50 weekly participants. Word of mouth is the best advertising, but it’s not enough to establish or sustain a program. I’ve offered guest passes, free trial classes, and “bring a friend” classes; placed flyers at supermarkets, coffee shops, and gyms; and done demonstrations at senior centers, nursing homes, and community events. And I feature adult students on my website, YouTube account, Facebook page, and, most important, in my recital.
Students’ parents are ready-made fans of your school and often will try a class. Create a special “pitch” during observation weeks.
In every recital, I include the three adult tap levels in one production routine, which accomplishes two important things: it brings my adult tap students together with a common goal and shows off a large and successful adult program. People who say they never realized what a big adult program we have often talk about it in the community—more word-of-mouth advertising.
Market to your students’ parents. They are ready-made fans of your school and often will try a class. Create a special “pitch” during observation weeks.
Emphasize the benefits of tap dancing. It offers a low-impact, weight-bearing activity that builds coordination and strength and boosts overall wellness through musical aerobic activity. It’s also a great way to connect with new friends. Consider offering refreshments after class to promote a sense of community.
Offer a free trial class with a discount on a class card if purchased the same day, senior discounts, or a two-for-one special if a friend signs up. Adults love a bargain!
Getting them to sign up
Make the price right. Class cards and drop-in prices offer flexibility. Julia Boynton of Boston Percussive Dance Center offers short sessions that cost less than paying week by week.
If possible, offer day and evening options. To build a strong adult tap program, you need to be sensitive to the work and personal demands that might interfere with students’ weekly attendance.
Collect old tap shoes and let new students borrow a pair until they’re sure they want to commit to class. Make sure to mention this in your marketing materials.
Make new students feel welcome. Introduce them to everyone and compliment them by name during the first class. Instill an attitude of acceptance within your adult community by making each dancer feel wanted.
Follow up new students’ first classes with a phone call or email to say how much you enjoyed dancing with them.
Maintaining a vibrant adult tap program
Be passionate about teaching adult tap and committed to a long-term relationship. An older, experienced teacher who knows how to structure a class for adults and is sensitive to aging bodies is imperative to building a strong program. Whether your students want to dance like Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire or Chloe Arnold and Jason Samuels Smith, once they start making rhythm they’ll be hooked for life!