Q: How do you attract students age 8 and up? Ours are mainly homegrown. A few trickle in from other studios, but it's just not enough.
A: Though some students will inevitably lose interest in dance over time, we've found that keeping parents informed, offering classes for complete beginners and including a performance team opportunity are key to keeping this age group inspired to make dance a priority. Here are our best ideas.
- Since parents are the primary decision makers about extra activities, it's important to communicate the benefits of dance in your marketing. Show the spectrum of skills and traits dance develops, such as confidence, musicality, flexibility and teamwork.
- Show that you welcome those who want to learn to dance at any age or ability level. Offer opportunities in your schedule for absolute beginners, ages 8–12, in ballet, tap, jazz and hip hop. Appeal to new students who may have dabbled in gymnastics, other sports or dance in years past to try a class for free, with no pressure to register but rather to see what your studio is all about.
- Create a pre-competitive or recreational-style performance group with some minimum weekly requirements that are attainable for new-to-dance families. There is a real need to belong to a team or select group for students of this age, and performance opportunities afford them a chance to experience the joy of dancing on a stage.
- Host regular informational events for parents interested in hearing what your beginner, competitive and performance dance tracks entail.
- Offer a summer intensive program for beginner dancers, ages 8–12, which will boost this age group's confidence while encouraging them to add more classes to their schedule for the following season.
Kathy Blake is the owner of Kathy Blake Dance Studios in Amherst, New Hampshire. She and Suzanne Blake Gerety are the co-founders of DanceStudioOwner.com.