Q: My booster club is getting a bit out of control. How do you rein in yours? I am grateful for all that they do, but I don’t want them to think that they wield influence at the studio.
A: We have a booster club—we call it the parents’ committee. Our office manager serves as the studio liaison with the booster club to make sure that no one parent is trying to take charge. I try to stay out of the booster club when it comes to fundraising decisions, but my office manager keeps me informed on what the committee’s plans are, and I do have the final say on everything that involves my dancers and my studio.
As studio owners and teachers, we depend on our parents to help out. I rely on my parents’ aid when it comes to costumes and props, but I keep a staff member ultimately in charge of these jobs. Years ago, I had a difficult parent who tried to take control—she would speak to the other parents on my behalf, even though I was never consulted. Naturally, this caused problems with other parent volunteers. After I had a meeting with her, she quit the booster club. The following year, she took her daughter to another studio. Lesson learned? Don’t let that sort of mentality fester. You need to be on the lookout for power-hungry volunteers. To put things in perspective for my parents, I tell them when they sign up to volunteer that they are not only supporting the studio but also their children by doing so.
I do make sure my volunteer parents know how much I appreciate them. But they are also aware that in my studio, a parent’s influence on his or her child’s dance studio achievements stops at the door.
Joanne Chapman is the owner of the award-winning Joanne Chapman School of Dance in Brampton, Ontario.
Four incredible educators: Joanne Chapman, Claudio Muñoz, Pamela VanGilder and Kathleen Isaac foster their students' love of dance, whether instilling artistry, offering rigorous training or giving special needs students an outlet through movement.
When Jennie Somogyi retired from New York City Ballet, she found herself in high demand as a teacher. Parents called, texted and persisted. "I don't even know how some of them got my contact information," she says with a laugh. But Somogyi, who departed from NYCB in 2015 after a 22-year career, hadn't made any definitive plans for the next stage of her life. "I just like to see how things move me," she says. She discovered, though, that she enjoyed the process of giving private lessons and seeing the rapid progress students could make. Over time, she realized that teaching was something she wanted rather than needed.
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This week Ballet Hispánico launched its first ChoreoLaB workshop, a summer intensive intended to better prepare aspiring professional dancers—with more than just excellent technique. Artistic director Eduardo Vilaro wanted to create a program that bridges the school and the company, to help dancers transitioning into the professional world and better hone their skills.
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