Ask the Experts: Booster Club Relations

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.

Teachers Trending
Alwin Courcy, courtesy Ballet des Amériques

Carole Alexis has been enduring the life-altering after-effects of COVID-19 since April 2020. For months on end, the Ballet des Amériques director struggled with fevers, tingling, dizziness and fatigue. Strange bruising showed up on her skin, along with the return of her (long dormant) asthma, plus word loss and stuttering.

"For three days I would experience relief from the fever—then, boom—it would come back worse than before," Alexis says. "I would go into a room and not know why I was there." Despite the remission of some symptoms, the fatigue and other debilitating side effects have endured to this day. Alexis is part of a tens-of-thousands-member club nobody wants to be part of—she is a COVID-19 long-hauler.

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Teachers Trending

Annika Abel Photography, courtesy Griffith

When the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May catalyzed nationwide protests against systemic racism, the tap community resumed longstanding conversations about teaching a Black art form in the era of Black Lives Matter. As these dialogues unfolded on social media, veteran Dorrance Dance member Karida Griffith commented infrequently, finding it difficult to participate in a meaningful way.

"I had a hard time watching people have these conversations without historical context and knowledge," says Griffith, who now resides in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, after many years in New York City. "It was clear that there was so much information missing."

For example, she observed people discussing tap while demonstrating ignorance about Black culture. Or, posts that tried to impose upon tap the history or aesthetics of European dance forms.

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Studio Owners
Courtesy Tonawanda Dance Arts

If you're considering starting a summer program this year, you're likely not alone. Summer camp and class options are a tried-and-true method for paying your overhead costs past June—and, done well, could be a vehicle for making up for lost 2020 profits.

Plus, they might take on extra appeal for your studio families this year. Those struggling financially due to the pandemic will be in search of an affordable local programming option rather than an expensive, out-of-town intensive. And with summer travel still likely in question this spring as July and August plans are being made, your studio's local summer training option remains a safe bet.

The keys to profitable summer programming? Figuring out what type of structure will appeal most to your studio clientele, keeping start-up costs low—and, ideally, converting new summer students into new year-round students.

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