The Challenge of Running a Successful Dance Studio
“Because everything we say and do is the length and shadow of our own souls, our influence is determined by the quality of our being.” -Dale E. Turner
What is it that makes anyone attracted to a certain thing or person? It is like a magnet, when the two parts come together there is a strong bond. So it is with dance. We all come to dance for a variety of reasons and I have always felt that in a way I did not choose to dance, rather that it chose me!
My mother took me at the age of three to my first dance class and I never looked back, I was hooked! I loved to dance, I loved the creative process of it all and in a way I even loved the discipline of it. There was a certain sense of security that I felt in my dance classes. I always wanted to become a professional dancer and became a successful one and quite honestly never envisioned myself as a studio owner. The road that life takes us on is not always the one that we imagine for ourselves but I do believe that we are put on that road for a reason.
Looking back over the past twenty seven years of my husband Steve and I owning our studio I do feel a great sense of accomplishment for not only teaching dance but also for giving thousands of children the tools to become successful in their own right. Sometimes it is necessary to take a step back to really take a good look at ourselves and our lives.
Ask ourselves why we are doing what we do and what we are hoping to get out of it?
The one thing that I do know, is that my years as a studio owner have been: Interesting, challenging, scary, exciting, overwhelming, and satisfying and life improving. I love teaching the dancers who I see improving each year, I don’t always like teaching the ones that don’t improve or put any effort in. I have learned over the years that to truly become a good teacher you have to find a way to enjoy your classes whatever the level of the student. It has been interesting to realize my role as a mentor, guidance counselor, psychologist and leader of the troops; the troops being, staff, faculty, students and parents. It has helped me to become a better human being and I am grateful each and every day for being given this amazing role during my lifetime. Does that mean that I have never had problems or issues that just made me want to throw in the towel and close the doors? No, trust me, I have certainly had more than a few of those moments, but the truth is that even though those moments were devastating, hurtful and struck a hard blow they each gave me the opportunity to learn how to deal with what life throws your way.
My reward is setting choreography for the most talented students and receiving the letters from any student years after they have left the studio telling us what a huge impact we made on their lives.
The wonderful relationships that we have been able to establish with both staff and faculty have certainly enriched our lives and the knowledge that we have an amazing team of talented individuals around us makes me glad that my life took this turn.
Our mission has always been to foster success in the arts, in school and in life. We all know how valuable the arts are in a child’s education and development. Dance is perhaps the most revealing of the arts, it strips you down and then builds you up and because of this any child who devotes part of their childhood to the art of dance is going to become a stronger, more disciplined and confident person. Usually children who dance and especially the more serious ones are more organized in school.
One of the great things that studying dance teaches us is that we have to learn to allocate our time well. The life lessons are numerous, dance teaches the ability to accept failure and be able to move on from it, it teaches us to be able to make quick decisions and to act on them, how to work with a team, to be positive at all times and to constantly challenge ourselves to continue to reach higher levels. It teaches us that mediocrity is not acceptable and that we should always strive for excellence, to elevate ourselves from ordinary to extraordinary. As I always tell my students,
“There is plenty of room in first class, so make a decision as to whether you want to take your journey in first class or coach!”
I have also learned and identified over the years that I cannot at any time forget or minimize the passion that I have for dance and our studio. To do so is a violation of why I am where I am today. Instead I celebrate it with the knowledge that this is only a part of my ongoing journey and my reason to be.
I understand that it is important to have goals and ideas but that without making plans and taking the action to make them a reality they really are just pipe dreams. Just as in dance, we always have to push ourselves out of our comfort zone to progress and so must we apply this same principle to the way we run our business. In all of our relationships at our studio we need to build trust and respect and you can do this by demonstrating at every moment that you are a person of your word. It is only by following through with what you have promised people that they will then accept that you are the leader. Talk is cheap and will only be valued if it is followed by action.
So often we have great ideas and how many times do those great ideas never come to fruition? It has happened to us and has more than likely happened to you! Probably the most important lesson that we have learned in the past twenty five years is that an idea is no good unless you have a definite plan to take that idea and put it into action. Each of us may have a different way of doing this and that is fine, it doesn’t really matter which way you get your idea moving ahead as long as you do and you use a system that works for you.
“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” Jack Welch