Top 10 Ways to Reach Your Dance Destination

Dance tips for beginners

Here we go fellow studio owners, studio directors, studio managers, dance teachers, and dancers. It’s back to school and back to dance!

There is always such a wonderful sense of excitement as we prepare to come back to dance for a new season. As a studio owner, I start preparing for the new season as soon as the annual recitals are a wrap. Deep cleaning and fresh paint are always starting points. Assessing the need for new stereos, speakers, auxiliary cords, computers, carpet, marley, office and lobby furniture come next, along with a myriad of additional studio improvements and additions each summer.

Of course all of the studio improvement activity is occurring alongside team placements for the next season, team meetings, selection and sizing of team uniforms, summer dance competitions, summer dance classes, pre-registration activities for fall, rehearsals for holiday shows (yes, we do Christmas choreography in June) and, somehow, family vacations are squeezed in there.

Besides the physical and logistical preparation for the NEXT season of dance, one of the most time consuming, yet rewarding aspects of owning a dance studio is the dreaming. Where do I want to take the students next season? Where do I want to lead them? As captain, where do I want to sail this ship filled with so many talented directors, faculty, students and parents?

After 24+ years of the continual activity that comes with owning a busy dance studio, I have comprised a list of the Top Ten ways to reach your dance destination successfully and smoothly. This list applies to studio owners, teachers, and dancers alike, so read on.

Whatever doubts you carried the previous year, let them go. Think new year…new start….sky is the limit.

Focus on yourself, your business, your dance world. Comparisons lead to self doubt, envy, and anxiety.

Find one area you can work just a little harder to improve. Think of the little engine that could. A little improvement each and every day will win you the race.

Pace yourself. Many times we work so hard preparing for the new dance season that we are exhausted before we begin and don’t have the fuel to continue moving in a forward direction. Make sure your efforts and daily plans are reasonable to avoid crashing against the rocks.

Part of staying the course is following a map. The clearer and more detailed the map, the faster you will reach your destination. As a dancer, do you want to improve your flexibility this year? Then make a plan of what you need to do each day to achieve this goal. Studio owners, do you want to streamline your office? Enlist the help of business professionals, take a management course, hire someone who has the skills you lack…start a map of how you can reach this goal.

We all have an inner compass that can and does lead us in the decisions we make. Follow your intuition and hunches. You have heard of the saying, “follow your heart.” Yes! Following your heart, your inner compass, will guide you to beautiful and unique parts of the journey you would have otherwise missed.

As dancers and artists we many times have intense emotional reactions to what is happening around us. Something I learned from Mary Bee Jensen, who was my college dance company director, was to “think it….don’t say it.” Boy, how many times we all wished we would have followed this advice. But the times that I have been able to follow this advice I have been happier and people around me have been happier. Checking our tongues and our negative body language can improve the atmosphere in our studios as well as the morale of our classes and teams.

Another bit of advice Mary Bee used to give us young dancers was to “shift gears.” When you are able to bend with the winds of change, you will weather any storm.

Think of ways you can improve your professionalism in business as well as in the classroom. Maybe you need to work on your tolerance level? Maybe you need to work on gossiping? Maybe you need to work on patience? Dress? Kindness? There are many virtues we can all work on. Pick one and get started.

Take criticism, be self reflective, be willing and ready to change course if your current map has to be altered. Be willing to take a plunge into stormy seas if the need arises and be brave. You are stronger than you know. You are the captain of your ship.

Kathy Bunker
Bunker Dance Center