Stop Blaming Your Town

Dear dance studio owners,

Stop saying that your town is not a dance town. 

I noticed lately how many dance studio owners blame slower times of the year, or a general lack of success, on other activities that are popular in their area.  

Well, this is just a baseball town… people here just love their soccer…  I just can’t compete with the underwater basket weaving season.  I have even heard of some studios closing completely during the peak months of certain sports.  Studio calendars are often built around other activities at the detriment of the studio’s financial stability and they may be undercutting the service they could be providing to their dance students who just want to be dancing.

If you have a studio, you have dancers that want to be dancing.  Make your town into a dance town.  Create such an amazing experience and so much value to your dance students that they want to be with you all year.  Get paid all year.  And create a studio stable enough to be around to serve its students well into the future.

I used to lament that my town was just a musical theatre town.  The 2 high schools in this very small county put a lot into their musical theatre productions.  They are a big deal, and a lot of people clamor to try to get their kids involved.   There is one very well established and long-standing dance studio that always provides the choreography and runs the auditions.  It was widely believed that you would never get a part in a play at one of these schools if you did not take dance classes at said studio.  Because they usually did at least one show each year that also involved a large cast of elementary and middle school children as well as high schoolers, that pretty much meant everyone that would be interested in dance would only go there.  I learned that the hard way, being an outsider that didn’t know the dynamics of the culture, and having a studio that was ballet based.   

I hung in.  What my studio offered was a very different product.  I valued the fact that my students wanted something different, and they valued me for providing it.  As the underdog, I tried harder in every aspect of running my studio.  In hindsight, I guess I should be grateful that I had that perceived threat to push me along.  That other studio is still around.  They are still running the shows at the schools.  Beyond that, I don’t really know what they are up to because I’m focused on serving my students the best that I can.  I do know that my studio now has a stellar reputation in my community and its name comes up in conversations when people are looking for the “best place to take dance”.  That wouldn’t have happened if I would have continued to hold the attitude that I couldn’t compete.  

Yes, your dance studio does have competition.  You most likely have other studios in your town.  Every sport, extracurricular school activity, and school musical is also your competition.  Keeping the girls in class when her brother’s soccer team is playing out of town is your competition.  So, get competitive.  Play to win.  Make your programs too amazing to miss out on.  Make your studio a place that gives so much value and so much positive energy that people can’t help but want to be there.  Be the force that makes your town a dance town.  Do it for your dancers.

All those other sports and activities are great for the kids that are into them.  I want to see kids explore all the options and find the thing that excites and motivates them; the thing that really connects them to their potential.  For the kids that find that in dance, I want to be there to serve them through every season.

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