Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thank you for being my student

So often we forget to give thanks to our real customers. Sure we say "thank you for being our customer" to the parents, after all they pay the bills. But when was the last time you really showed gratitude to your students just for giving you the chance to be their dance teacher?

Thank you for coming to class and for wanting to learn.
Thank you for making me be a better teacher.
Thank you for making me exercise each week.
Thank you for making me laugh.
Thank you for accepting my love of dance as a gift - from me to you.
Thank you for wanting to be a dancer.
Thank you for being so cute in your little pink outfit.
Thank you for thinking I'm your hero, when in truth I'm just a normal person.

Let's take this Thanksgiving opportunity to remember to thank the students in our lives for making us dance teachers. I wonder... just who would we be without any students?

As one of my favorite inpirational books "The Secret" says, Gratitude is the most powerful feeling there is.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Hire a housekeeper. Really.

I'm a huge fan of Penelope Trunk she writes for many major newspapers but most importantly is a blogger and owner of BrazenCareerist. In much of her work she writes about her life with juggling family, work and a new love life, or not as the case may be now. Like many career types she preaches about doing what you love, which is what I do by owning my Dance School. But she also advises to hire help to get ahead. So, I did. I hired a personal coach and a housekeeper all in the same month. And can I just tell you that not having to worry about the toilets being clean or the floors being vacuumed has completely changed my home life- the guilt and late night cleanings are a thing of the past!

Penelope was right- my time is better served doing anything but cleaning a toilet! I'm in a small town. Every other week I can have someone come into our home for just 40 bucks! Others of you may not be so lucky, but even if it costs you more I would proclaim that it would be worth it! As my coach would say, "lets find things we can leverage" (off of your plate.) I'm all for that! Now, go ahead- hire a cleaning lady-- you'll be glad you did. Heck it could even be a tax deduction, if you do it right! And have them clean the studio too while they are at it. You have more important things to do.

Just in case you missed this article

This article is what landed me the opportunity to help write the new American Girl book "Dance!" - thought I'd share it with you in case you missed it.

Use the power of positive psychology to differentiate your school.
Written by: DeAnne Boegli, owner BHF Dance Academy and Releve’ LLC. Published in Dance Studio Life Magazine, August 2007

Recently, positive psychology stories have been hitting the news and bookshelves. Positive psychology experts recommend thinking positive thoughts to get a positive outcome. Some take this to the extreme saying they can imagine a parking spot and get it. But in general, this is not a new concept. Motivational speakers have been pitching the power of positive thinking to their audiences for years, so why now is it getting mainstream attention?

Positive attitudes can make a difference between struggling with a challenge and tackling it head on. If we are not confident we can not make good things happen. Adapting to change takes confidence and we live in a world of change. So today more than ever we need to think positive.

How does this impact dance teachers?

We’ve been teaching self-confidence for years. We tackle the world’s greatest fear -- public performance or public speaking every year, recital after recital. As a dance teacher, I’ve always prided myself in preparing young students for their first stage performance. That first exposure is critical to long term success. Training students to feel the adrenaline rush rather than the fear is what is so important. What a huge gift we give to our students -- freedom from fear. And the ability to use that “rush” to perform to the best of their abilities. After a positive stage experience self-confidence starts to grow and they can’t wait to get back up there.

In college I majored in psychology and journalism at the University of Wisconsin. My goal was to become a public relations professional. I’ve accomplished my goals. I’m still active in the profession and enjoy it daily. But along the way I found a need to listen to my creative voice, so I started a dance school in our small town in Brodhead, Wis. I wanted my daughters to have all of the gifts dancing provided to me. (thank you Ms. Ginger) And a school was born.

At my school we are all about teaching self-confidence. It’s my single goal. Our tag line is “Life is a Stage. Start Dancing™.” And I mean this. I want to raise confident young students with great attitudes. Sure, if we grow some amazing dancers along the way I’ll consider it a great success, but it won’t be my crowning achievement. Seeing a successful person with exceptional confidence in everyday life will be my reward.

Each class we put a twist on the Reverence tradition. We state our Reverence verbally. And through the years the kids have added their own choreography to it from time to time. We say at the end of each class… “I’m Smart. I’m Strong and I Love to Dance!™.” For five years my students have been repeating this and they believe it. (And so do their parents.) Go ahead; say it to yourself out loud.

“I’m Smart. I’m Strong and I Love to Dance.” Doesn’t that make you feel good? That is positive psychology in the works. Repetitive self-affirmation is good for your soul.

At first, I had young girls who couldn't say it because they didn’t believe it. I would have them stand in front of the mirror and tell themselves “I’m Smart. I’m Strong and I Love to Dance.” Some couldn't look themselves in the eye. It was a sad moment for me, but it made me even more dedicated to this activity with the students. If no one else in their life was going to tell them they were smart and strong then I certainly wanted to teach them how to tell it to themselves.

I had a good laugh when the senior class took some artistic license to our statement. They chanted “I’m hot, I’m tired and I want to go home” with a few giggles. I had to admire their creativity, I was tired too.
Before each recital back stage while the kids are anxiously waiting, I shout “I’m going out now to open the curtain for you… let me here it!” Then young voices say in unison “I’m Smart. I’m Strong and I Love to Dance!” I get goose bumps each time. It calms the dancers down. It equalizes them. From the youngest to the oldest they all say it together. They are a team, even though some of them have never met. They are in control of their emotions. They are building self-awareness.

I had some staff that doubted this technique until they saw it in action backstage. They are believers today. And we even say it at the end of the grand finale’ of the final performance as a way to say goodbye until the next season starts.

I encourage you to find your own statement.
Say what comes naturally and fits with your teaching style. I’m confident you will find success. As it becomes part of your brand it will help you differentiate your school from competitors programs. One hint: don’t change the statement often. It’s something that you need to drill over time. Something that when they are 40 they will still remember….I’m Smart. I’m Strong and I Love to Dance!

It’s fun. Try it.

Eating Animal Crackers

You all know the song "animal crackers in my soup" a Shirley Temple favorite. I have always used this diddy with my pre-ballet students. We sing the whole thing with puppets etc.
So, here's the issue...
I have a family that for religious reasons won't let their children accept a treat at the end of class or let me use holiday tunes etc. I'm not exactly sure what religion they practice, but I do my best to honor their requests. They have been long time customers.

This week at class I brought in Animal Crackers, so the kids could eat one and bring some greater understanding to the song. Well, when this child got back to her Mom after class she explained that she had eaten a treat and I could tell from the look on the Mom's face that she was really displeased. I didn't consider it candy or a "treat" it was a teaching lesson, although I did give it at the end of class to avoid the mess. So, I guess it could be considered a treat.

I observed the Mom gently scolding the child in the waiting room and of course quickly turned back into work with the next class as to not to create a scene. (I know, I'm a chicken) I'm considering sending the girl's Mom an email to explain, or should I just let it go? I feel so bad for the child I don't want her not to trust me. Perhaps someone on the post can explain this type of religion and why a little girl can't have a snack?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Pigeon Toes Quandary

I know all teachers have had students with varying degrees of Pigeon Toe, I have had a few myself in just the past few years alone. My latest quandary comes from one of my dear three year old's. She has severe "turn in" a near 90 degree inward turn when she doesn't concentrate on her position. Just this week, after a challenging time skipping I finally decided to talk with the parents. We've been having class for about 6 weeks, so I'm more comfortable with the student and parent now. I explained my observations and they agreed. The trick is the girl's doctor has told the parents "not to worry about it, plenty of athletes are pigeon toed." The Mom told me she's asked the Dr. at nearly every visit about it with the same response. Now that I've opened the door for conversation she almost seems relieved that I've noticed and want to help her find a solution. I explained that it's not her feet, but the rotation from the hip which effects the turn in, and that left without therapy she'll be prone to injury her whole life. Not to mention, it would be difficult for her to excel at dance or other sports. My advice was to get a second doctors opinion, consult an orthopedic doctor, and/or a chiropractor to get some options on treatments and therapies. I also showed her some at home stretches and things to do herself with her child. As well as things that I do during class to help her.

I found it interesting that this Mom instinctively knew something more needed to be done, but that the doctor's comments were so powerful he could override that instinct. One of my observations was that this first time Mom of an adopted child from another country had the instincts, but not the confidence to challenge the Dr.-- maybe because of the fact she's adopted, I'm not sure.

I walked away from the studio that night knowing that I really made a difference in the life of this child, from just one simple conversation. Now, the Mom feels empowered to get second opinion and to aggressively treat this child while time and growth are still on her side. Just one more reason why I love to be a dance teacher. We really can make a huge difference in the lives of children.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Gift Idea for Christmas

American Girl has just released a book simply titled Dance! It retails for $9.95 and is a great idea to give to parents for a gift giving treat to thier dancer. Even if they already dance a lot this book talks about many issues surrounding dance...

- School dances
-Why you can't just start dancing with your best friend if she's been taking classes for a number of years and you have not.
- Great tips for how to work with your dance teacher if you are having trouble.
- And even cliques in the classroom, but not the dance studio - how to work with kids you don't normally hang out with in school.

(I helped write the book, but get no monetary reward for it, so I'm out promoting where I can just because I love the book and I'm proud of it.) It has some locker size posters in the back that are really cool too. Check it out! at or direct to

Put one in the waiting room for parents to browse! (you may need to tie it down :)

Dancingly Yours, DeAnne

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Making your community stronger

Many times we as small business people get so caught up in running our own businesses that we forget to step back and remember to work more for the community live in. I'm currently working within my community of Brodhead Wisc. leading a group called Forward Brodhead. We are working to make sure our community is strong for the future of our kids and our businesses. Are you living in a community that's struggling to push ahead and provide a unique, branded experience? A book called 90 days to a winning community inspired our group you should check it out. The author is James Dittoe. We as dance teachers can bring our creativity to the cities we live in by organizing and leading in addition to supporting and growing the Arts in our communities.

You have many gifts as a dancer. Make the community your stage and choreograph your business' future by creating a strong community. It may take more than 90 days, but it will be a great investment in your business future. If the community stays strong, so will your business.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Dancing in Church

I had the opportunity this weekend to share dance with 6/7th grade "non-dancers" at our church. It was a great opportunity to work with kids who were not-quite sure they wanted to dance, but enjoyed getting out of Sunday School early for the chance to dance. I guess I'll take what I can get. I had them for only 15 min. which will continue from now til just before Christmas as we get ready for the Christmas program. So, what can you do in 15 min. with non-dancers? A lot. I was surprised how much I got thru in that short time, a full 32 counts! My plan was to throw a lot at them, keep the boys busy learning and then next week I'll make sure they can do it without following me. I hope they come back to class next Sunday... stay tuned.

Dancing in church is a very wonderful thing that I do not seem to make enough time for. Last year I taught a couple of classes Silent Night and brought them to church to perform. It was amazing for everyone. It was the first time Liturgical had been done in our church to my knowledge. When I was younger we visited churches all across the rural areas where we lived and it was so much fun. Funny how easy it is to forget the rewarding experiences that shaped us in our youth.

Maybe I need to get working on a new dance for Christmas it is only 8 weeks away after all!

Releve' Dance Poster sample

Releve' Dance Poster sample
sample of poster