Q: In the summer, I love to hold a weeklong open-dance intensive with guest teachers. But for the past few years, I've found it harder and harder to afford guest teachers and still keep the price reasonable for my dancers. What do you suggest?
A: I think many studios have this problem. We all want great workshop teachers, but high hourly rates, airfare and hotel fees can make it impossible for summer intensives to be affordable. Twelve years ago at a convention, I expressed the same concerns to two other studio owners. One has a studio about 45 minutes from mine, and the other's studio is only 20 minutes away. We decided to run a summer intensive together. We call it "The Ultimate Dance Intensive": It all takes place at one studio, and it's open to dancers from any studio. We invite a mix of local teachers and bigger-name faculty.
The environment is very supportive, and we've actually managed to make money (which didn't happen before we joined together). This past summer, we tried a new idea to increase enrollment. Our parents committee wound up having some funds leftover by the year's end, so we offered every student a $50 credit toward their intensive fee. (If you didn't attend the intensive, you didn't get the "scholarship" credit.) We ended up increasing our enrollment by 20 percent.
Joanne Chapman is the owner of the award-winning Joanne Chapman School of Dance in Brampton, Ontario.