Q: A studio 30 minutes from mine has been promoting itself as the best studio to go to, if you want a career in dance. They claim to have semi-professional and professional levels, when in fact it's just a senior and advanced competitive team. I've lost several strong dancers to this school over its hype. How can I keep this from happening in the future?

A: The best way to keep your serious dancers at your studio is to provide them with as many opportunities to train and perform as possible. This means bringing in guest teachers and choreographers and providing workshop, performance and competition options. Doing a high-level Nationals competition is a great way to keep your dancers motivated, too. Note that all of these opportunities mean a significant time, energy and financial commitment on your part and theirs.

I've found that most dancers and parents who feel they're getting great training and opportunities to grow won't leave your studio. For some, however, the grass will always be greener on the other side. I've had dancers move to other studios under the pretense that they were starting their professional careers. But I suspect the real reason for the move was to be a big fish in a smaller pond.

Believe in yourself and what you have to offer your dancers. Take the high road, and don't put any other studios down.

Joanne Chapman is the owner of the award-winning Joanne Chapman School of Dance in Brampton, Ontario.

Photo by Dan Boskovic, courtesy of Joanne Chapman

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