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Old 08-27-2014, 09:20 AM
 
4,144 posts, read 1,736,156 times
Reputation: 11681

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After 35+ years of training & teaching, at age 40, I am opening my own studio. I am not new to this as I have helped many people open their own school. I have seen many positives things over the years but the negative ones pushed me into opening my own.

Looking for opinions as to what you would change if you could in your own/child's studio?

I'll start with a few things:

Ridiculous costs.
Costs for every. little. thing.
Costume costs.
Playing favorites.
That one student that is out front in every routine.

I could go & on...etc...

Your thoughts are appreciated. I will note that this business is not necessarily for income, this is something I can do without relying on the money hence less pressure. My own children are just about all grown so I can focus on this & this alone. I hope to create a place where everyone can enjoy excellent, affordable training without the "Dance Moms" hype.

Last edited by LLCNYC; 08-27-2014 at 09:28 AM..
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Old 08-27-2014, 09:49 AM
 
6,461 posts, read 6,112,547 times
Reputation: 9783
I like that there are A, B, C tracts for each dance level as well as numbers.that way kids can have upward movement, but better students advance faster. It's better to have kids together that are on the same level, even if the ages are a bit mixed.

ballet 1a, 1b,1c

Ballet 2a, 2b, 2c

So a student who is progressing slower can progress through ballet 1 before moving to ballet 2. A student progressing fast can skip to ballet 2.

I like the variety of payment plans. (1,2, or 4 payment per dance year)

I like the requirement to take multiple ballet classes as they progress, but only one recital.
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Old 08-27-2014, 10:07 AM
 
Location: Greater NYC
2,857 posts, read 4,702,200 times
Reputation: 3751
Good for you for asking for input prior to opening your studio. All my responses are based on the 8 and under crowd.

All the studios near us that cater to 3s, pre-K and K dancers have viewing windows and seating for parents (obviously your child is too young to drop them off)... please take into account to make this area reasonably comfortable -- large enough space and efficient layout -- make the windows big enough so all can see otherwise you run into parents who won't move over to accommodate everyone for fear of losing their view. Also, realize moms with little ones (babies and toddlers) may need to wait too.

Please make sure you provide enough restrooms/stalls for your capacity.

Please provide adequate hand sanitizer. It's a germ-fest in these places.

Please communicate efficiently and effectively with parents! EMAIL and post flyers. Not just one or the other. Be strategic and streamlined in your communication, realizing that while you know everything you're talking about, parents usually don't.

Please have a DECENT, easy to navigate website, detailing what you offer, for what ages, cost and whether your studio is by session e.g. September-May or if there's no stop and start, so to speak. Everyone seems to do this differently and it drives me crazy because rarely is outlined on studios' websites.

Please feature all of your instructors on your site with a bio.

Please take care of your facility and clean the glass, (every day) touch up paint in the halls, etc. (from time to time).

Please provide direct deposit for tuition.

PLEASE DO NOT have the instructors guilt parents into volunteering to be the recital mom for the younger dancers back stage for 2 hours during the recital just two weeks before the recital. Do not have instructors suggest to moms to "hire a babysitter" if no mom can do it. FIGURE THIS OUT AHEAD OF TIME. This really rubs parents the wrong way. We've already paid a recital fee, for costumes etc. The studio needs to figure this out.

I've never really had any concerns surrounding the things you list in your post -- all of these haven't been an issue for us.

Good luck to you, you're already off to a great start!
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Old 08-27-2014, 10:57 AM
 
2,321 posts, read 2,366,486 times
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Have a few dads only nites in the evening hours so that dads may come see their kids without all of the dance moms around! I think you will find that some dads may bond together and will willingly help out your studio with tasks if the dads can feel welcome to come hang out with other men now and then. I know this is a bit unusual but I've seen it work.
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Old 08-27-2014, 09:19 PM
 
876 posts, read 645,706 times
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The only thing I don't like about our studio is the small waiting area for parents. It's crowded and hot and we can't see into the rooms very well.

Things I do like:

-affordable for families. They have a payment scale that charges by how much time all members of one family are in class. It makes it nice for those of us with 2+ kids who are dancing. We are also not nickle & dimed. It's one fee per month, other than recital costumes and recital fee, which are listed up front at the beginning of the year, so no surprises. Auto payment from a credit card is a nice option, which we use.

-class schedule, fee schedule, recital info, dress code, payment options, everything is online and easy to navigate. We can register online, very convenient.

-nice little playroom for the younger non-dancing siblings, to keep them occupied while older kids are dancing

-different "tracks" for different ability and interest levels. My girls just take classes once per week for the fun of it, and do the recital at the end of the year. For those who want to do more, there's a company troupe that practices more often, and performs in the community for various events. It's non-competitive. There is also competitive dance team, that requires a lot of dedication and hard work. One of my daughter's friends is doing this and loves it, but it certainly wouldn't be for everyone. Just this year, they have introduced 4-week sessions, too, so people (most preschool age, it seems) can get a little taste of a class without a larger commitment.

-no trashy or sexually provocative costumes. They are cute and trendy without being slutty

-great instructors. They all know their stuff, dance-wise, and they must take their lead from the owner, who is super friendly and comes across as so kind and caring. I have never experienced the gossip that I hear about at other places

-The competitive dance girls (mostly teens) do fund-raising for their various trips, by offering "Parents Night Out" babysitting a couple of times a year at the studio for a reasonable fee. They have it all set up as a dance party with various crafts and games. My kids love it and so do I! The proceeds go toward their travel/hotel expenses.
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Old 08-27-2014, 09:50 PM
 
Location: Illinois
4,754 posts, read 4,100,468 times
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My Biggest Pet Peave: Please don't pick out inappropriate costumes for children. Ease of movement? Yes. Looking and feeling beautiful on stage? Yes!
A costume that is essentially a string bikini on a 6-10 year old? Absolutely not.

Ask for parent feedback before you decide on any costumes - some are really, really, really inappropriate for young dancers.
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Old 08-27-2014, 10:09 PM
 
5,413 posts, read 4,829,493 times
Reputation: 9351
Quote:
Originally Posted by LLCNYC View Post
After 35+ years of training & teaching, at age 40, I am opening my own studio. I am not new to this as I have helped many people open their own school. I have seen many positives things over the years but the negative ones pushed me into opening my own.

Looking for opinions as to what you would change if you could in your own/child's studio?

I'll start with a few things:

Ridiculous costs.
Costs for every. little. thing.
Costume costs.
Playing favorites.
That one student that is out front in every routine.

I could go & on...etc...

Your thoughts are appreciated. I will note that this business is not necessarily for income, this is something I can do without relying on the money hence less pressure. My own children are just about all grown so I can focus on this & this alone. I hope to create a place where everyone can enjoy excellent, affordable training without the "Dance Moms" hype.
I loved the studio my daughter went when young. The woman had actually been my ballet teacher when I was that age.

She did not take any student before age 4....after that, she'd take any student including special needs...and they were not segregated apart from the typical students. She only taught ballet until 3rd grade, then they got to do tap, and in 5th grade they could add jazz/modern if they wanted. Students could take all three....but if they had to take ballet if they took jazz or tap.

There was one recital for all class types every year....none of the contents and competitive stuff (which is where most of the extra costs come in). Every other year, they put on a major ballet as well as the smaller recital. Believe it or not, parents would line up to help for those events. They were professional, well planned, but fun and everyone was respected....from the older high school students that got the leads, to the special needs students that may or may not be doing what everyone else was.

She was strict, but fun....and there wasn't a student pr parent that didn't love her. Her studio was not fancy, it was a classic room, no glass viewing windows. Parents were allowed to stay in the ante room is they wanted, but she wanted the students to be free to dance, not worry about their parents critiquing their performance. There was no body shaming at all...by anyone in her presence. (And that included parents.)

She retired a year after we moved and sold her studio. In going back to my hometown....all the girls that had been dancers there, had moved to studios further away....because it had turned into just another competitive dance troop....special needs and chubby girls were 'discouraged' from attending. The costs had gone from one or two reasonable costumes a year, to 6 or 7 on top of contest fees and travel. They do not do an actual ballet (such as Coppélia, which was the last one we danced it)...but instead just 'routines'.

The school is still there....but it's much smaller, doesn't have the respect it did and parents look for other options and little girls in town don't dream of the day they are old enough to attend.
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Old 08-28-2014, 08:47 AM
 
4,144 posts, read 1,736,156 times
Reputation: 11681
Oh Wow! Thanks so much for your time...Off to read them now
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Old 08-28-2014, 08:57 AM
 
4,144 posts, read 1,736,156 times
Reputation: 11681
Quote:
Originally Posted by Meyerland View Post
I like that there are A, B, C tracts for each dance level as well as numbers.that way kids can have upward movement, but better students advance faster. It's better to have kids together that are on the same level, even if the ages are a bit mixed.

ballet 1a, 1b,1c

Ballet 2a, 2b, 2c

So a student who is progressing slower can progress through ballet 1 before moving to ballet 2. A student progressing fast can skip to ballet 2.

I like the variety of payment plans. (1,2, or 4 payment per dance year)

I like the requirement to take multiple ballet classes as they progress, but only one recital.
Great ideas! Thanks. I definitely agree about the levels & is already a standard for me.

I like the payment plans...don't most studios offer this nowadays? Lol. They should. I offer multiple payment plans sometimes customizing it for my families who need it.

I require ballet for my multi-class students at a low cost, it's a must for the more serious student.

LOL ONE recital is plenty & one that isn't 19 hours long as well. Nothing worse than a snoozefest, boring recital.
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Old 08-28-2014, 09:15 AM
 
4,144 posts, read 1,736,156 times
Reputation: 11681
Quote:
Originally Posted by Idlewile View Post
Good for you for asking for input prior to opening your studio. All my responses are based on the 8 and under crowd.

All the studios near us that cater to 3s, pre-K and K dancers have viewing windows and seating for parents (obviously your child is too young to drop them off)... please take into account to make this area reasonably comfortable -- large enough space and efficient layout -- make the windows big enough so all can see otherwise you run into parents who won't move over to accommodate everyone for fear of losing their view. Also, realize moms with little ones (babies and toddlers) may need to wait too.

I agree, I will be having a larger window to enable all parents to see their little one & a comfortable waiting area.

Please make sure you provide enough restrooms/stalls for your capacity.

Check.

Please provide adequate hand sanitizer. It's a germ-fest in these places.

And check.

Please communicate efficiently and effectively with parents! EMAIL and post flyers. Not just one or the other. Be strategic and streamlined in your communication, realizing that while you know everything you're talking about, parents usually don't.

I will do both.

Please have a DECENT, easy to navigate website, detailing what you offer, for what ages, cost and whether your studio is by session e.g. September-May or if there's no stop and start, so to speak. Everyone seems to do this differently and it drives me crazy because rarely is outlined on studios' websites.

Please feature all of your instructors on your site with a bio.

Yes, I agree. All of this is in the works.

Please take care of your facility and clean the glass, (every day) touch up paint in the halls, etc. (from time to time).

Please provide direct deposit for tuition.

A spotless studio is VERY important to me & I also provide a DD option for tuition and the ability to pay online as well.

PLEASE DO NOT have the instructors guilt parents into volunteering to be the recital mom for the younger dancers back stage for 2 hours during the recital just two weeks before the recital. Do not have instructors suggest to moms to "hire a babysitter" if no mom can do it. FIGURE THIS OUT AHEAD OF TIME. This really rubs parents the wrong way. We've already paid a recital fee, for costumes etc. The studio needs to figure this out.

This is a HUGE PET PEEVE of mine. I couldn't agree more about the volunteering. It's ridiculous. A parent has already paid for tuition, costumes etc etc & now we want them to miss the show & work? Just no. Lol.

I've never really had any concerns surrounding the things you list in your post -- all of these haven't been an issue for us.

Good luck to you, you're already off to a great start!
Thank you for all your great thoughts!
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