Balancing work and family life can be a constant challenge for studio owners. Our Dance Teacher Summit offers a chance to chat with peers about this and other shared struggles of studio life. Today, we're featuring Robin Dawn Ryan, who began competing before her 8th birthday and spent much of her adolescence logging additional training in circus arts. This DT Summit ambassador has been a successful studio owner since 1975 and spoke to us about how she makes time for herself and her family.

Robin Dawn Ryan

Owner, Robin Dawn Dance Academy

Cape Coral, FL

350 students

Dance Teacher: How have your circus and tumbling skills come in handy at your studio?

Robin Dawn Ryan: I teach trapeze, hoop and web, and we perform those skills in my annual recital. It’s definitely a plus that my students can have this on their resumés. One of my girls was hired to dance on a cruise ship, and when they asked her to train on the hoop, she already knew how to do it, so they promoted her right away. I’ve also had students who got into Cirque du Soleil as dancers. It’s just another element of talent to add to their package.

DT: You’ve spoken at the Dance Teacher Summit about the challenges of running a studio while having a family. What is the hardest part of your triple role as a studio owner, mother and wife?

RDR: Being a business owner is easy compared to being a good mom and wife. Being there for your family is defintiely the hard part. Dance teachers spend more time raising other people’s children than their own, which few people understand. You have to make so many hard choices, like when your students have a competition but your son has a baseball game.

DT: What’s your advice to new studio owners who want to be able to do it all?

RDR: I opened my studio at age 18, and it’s especially hard with young studio owners, because they’re so enthusiastic. They want to do everything with their students and be with them all the time. Then you start a family and suddenly it’s not just about you anymore. Make sure you have someone at the studio who can cover you, and let your employees know that your family comes first. Sometimes my husband still has to remind me that I’m the boss, and if I can’t be with my students because of a family commitment, that’s OK! You don’t need to feel guilty for putting family first.

Photos courtesy of Robin Dawn Ryan

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