Ask the Experts: Will I Lose Students If I Don't Hire Guest Teachers?

Q: I have had a few students leave my studio for a larger one that participates in conventions and hires several guest teachers to do choreography every year (at a high price). What happened to training our own students and doing our own choreography? I'm worried that if I don't jump on the bandwagon, I'll lose more students. What should I do?

A: Yes, we do have to train our own students, but I think serious dancers are looking for a studio that can offer them great in-house training as well as the opportunity to experience guest teachers and choreographers. If jumping on the bandwagon means offering this balance, then yes, I think it's in the best interests of your dancers to offer both.

Conventions are great for exposure to new styles of dance and learning choreography from different teachers. I hire guest choreographers to set competitive routines for my dancers, but because it's a considerable expense and requires me setting aside a big chunk of time, I don't invite one to my studio every month.

Homegrown or local talent is a great option when looking to keep guest teacher and choreographer fees low. Think about what will move your dancers forward, and keep a balanced program in your studio. Staying current does mean exposing your dancers to opportunities outside your own studio.

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

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