Friday, August 12, 2011

Don't worry Mom. I got this.

Each summer I hold a registration day, just like many dance schools do. But this year I had a scheduling problem, my youngest daughter was participating in a Miss American Coed pageant the same weekend.

Being the planner that I am -- I had everything under control and people set up to work at the registration, including my oldest daughter, the accountant, and 2 older students to handle shoe fittings. I was scheduled to leave the pageant at 7:30 a.m. to get back to the studio - only an hours drive.

The morning of the event the person I had arranged to do my daughters hair and get her to the pageant interviews drove to the wrong city to assist us. An hour the other direction. So no time for me to leave my daughter and get to the studio. I made the call to my 14 year old daughter (who is wise beyond her years) and her response was "Don't worry Mom. I got this." And she did.

I was so proud of her. She talked with parents, placed students and directed the workers. All at age 15! I always knew she was paying attention to me as I worked, but now I understand fully how much it all matters. And the feedback from parents was wonderful.

I've always said our Dance Academy is a family business. While I started it, it takes our whole family to work for it on occassion, give up time with Mom, and "to be nice to the customers" no matter what click they are in at school.

I'm not sure what our plan for the Academy is long term. But now at least I know that we could have a long future for more generations of dance studio owners in my family.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Dance Mom's TV Show - will it hurt or help your business?

The new reality TV show Dance Mom's has a lot of dance school owners up in arms or laughing, depending on which side of the fence they are sitting on. My Linked in dance studio owners group is a buzz with people saying this is bad for dance and that competition team focused studios are losing busines because of it. "Parents are afraid to get their kids involved..."

I should make a disclaimer that I'm a studio owner that has never, ever supported dance competitions. In fact, my brochures say we don't do competitions, period. When I first opened my studio ten years ago, some asked, why not? My response has always been the same. "It's not that we don't have the talent, we do. It's just that I want my kids to love to dance for the love of dance, not for a trophy." We do a recital instead. It like the art of dance, not the sport.

So, I sort of laughed when I first viewed the show, until I realized that at least 50% of this reality TV show is actually real. Then I get sad. If kids want to be professional dancers, dance on broadway and be big stars can't they can do that without all this fuss and drama of nasty competitions? Where are the exhibitions?

Don't even get me started on the inappropriate costumes, moves and music many choreographers choose for the students. I think the Dance Mom's on the show and around the country need to speak up for their little girls and boy's on what's appropriate for stage. I applaud this reality TV show for showing this, maybe it will help.

Reality TV shows are not real. Well, not totally. So, for that 50% of the show that is real - I see amazing dancers, a nice studio, a teacher that knows her stuff and has successful dancers to prove it. These Dance Mom's have sought out a teacher that they think will make their little dancer famous someday. That's good marketing. They are getting what they pay for, what they ask for. It is for them to decide what winning looks like.

Competitions are what create the difference between dance as art and dance as a sport. My own children compete in sporting tournaments (and yes even in rough sports there is drama.) It's the hair, costume and make up that throw you off at first with dance. This is dance for the sport. Hard core competitons to get your dancer noticed - get the scholarship -- same as a young basketball, fastpitch or volleyball stars. You wouldn't tell those kids in sports not to compete would you?

It's clear that these Dance Mom's who are on the show to be famous themselves. Have you seen their hair and make up, outfits...they are the true performers here. And what a performance it is. I think these Mom's will be embarrassed later in life for exploiting their dancers. Or maybe they will all be rich and famous...the world of reality TV is not rational.

As for competitions - there are good ones and bad ones - so if you are planning to have your dancers compete you may need to set the stage for your dance parents who have watched this show. Tell them why you are competing -- what's the goal? Why did you select this particular competition vs. others? What will be success for all of you?

The dance competition industry is huge. And the dance magazines that could talk about this show might not because much of their revenues are based on dance competiton full page ads.

Lifetime's Dance Mom's TV Show will either make competitions more popular or more scrutinized. Either way, I think all dance teachers will need to become very clear about WHY they do competitions.

So, WHY do you compete?

Releve' Dance Poster sample

Releve' Dance Poster sample
sample of poster