Seen and Heard at the Dance Teacher Summit: Sue Sampson-Dalena
Over here at DT, we’re gearing up for our upcoming Dance Teacher Summit, August 1–3. We hope to see you there! DT editor Andrea Marks spoke to Dance Teacher Summit ambassador Sue Sampson-Dalena about what she’s learned from her DT Summit experience. A studio owner for 32 years, Sampson-Dalena has seen her students go on to dance at conservatories, compete on “So You Think You Can Dance,” start their own companies and, perhaps most rewarding, become teachers themselves.
Owner, The Dance Studio of Fresno
Dance Teacher: Did you get any great ideas from the Summit that you have put into practice in your studio?
Sue Sampson-Dalena: My first year at the Summit, I got an idea from [fellow ambassador] Robin Dawn Ryan. One of her biggest fundraising success stories is her recital program. She does a recital yearbook, which makes her quite a bit of money and helps subsidize her shows. I followed her template and was very successful with that.
Also, Anthony Morigerato is the most brilliant tap teacher on the planet. He has a tap barre he’s introducing that I’d like to try. And I’ve taken Debbi Dee’s wonderful tap class with her 400-plus time steps that she teaches. I have taught about 20 different time steps from her so far.
DT: What was the most surprising thing you learned about other studio owners at the 2013 Summit?
SS: A lot of studios do not have a curriculum. They don’t have a syllabus for every level and style of dance that they offer. I don’t understand how you can gauge whether or not a child is ready to progress to the next level if you don’t have it standardized.
DT: What was the most common question studio owners asked you?
SS: People asked a lot about the app I developed for my studio. It has my schedule of classes, holidays, recital photos, my dance team members’ profiles with little pictures—it’s really cute. It also shows news and events, and I use it to send out reminders, like when guest teachers will be here.
Customers can download it for free, and it’s become a great communication tool for me. I developed it through the company Creative Solutions (trycreativesolutions.com), and it cost about $4,500 from start to finish. I believe it’s a great deal cheaper to just go online and do the process yourself, but I am not a computer person. It’s worth it to me to pay someone to do the work.