Ask the Experts: Letting Well-Liked Faculty Go

Q: In light of recent events, I’ve discovered that I need to fire a faculty member at my school who is beloved by the kids. They are unaware of the reason she can no longer work here, and I don’t want to publicize that information anyway. How can I get rid of her gracefully and acknowledge the situation in a professional way with my students and parents?

A: Letting a well-liked faculty member go, especially during the dance season, is very tough. Always be professional and tell the students and parents only what they need to know—which doesn’t include the circumstances of why the teacher was let go. It’s more important to emphasize that it was a decision you alone had to make and that you had a good reason for the dismissal. You can send out letters or e-mails stating that you have had to make a change in the faculty without getting into specifics. Let your parents and students know that you are excited to have a new dance teacher joining your faculty and that you have great confidence in her ability to take your students to the next level.

I do not recommend having an open meeting with the parents, because this will leave the floor open for questions and opinions you may not want to deal with publicly. Your letter or e-mail could read something like: “Unfortunately, Ms. Grace will not be returning to teach at our studio, but we feel fortunate to have Ms. Mary join our dance family. Ms. Mary is very excited to work with our young dancers and be a part of their dance education. If you have any questions or concerns, please come and talk to me.”

As the studio owner, make sure you do not verbally tear “Ms. Grace” down—negative energy is a waste of energy! Be positive about and supportive of the new teacher. Monitor these classes closely and address any concerns that the parents and students might have as they arise.

Joanne Chapman is the owner of the award-winning Joanne Chapman School of Dance in Brampton, Ontario.

 

Photo by Dan Boskovic, courtesy of Joanne Chapman

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.

Keep reading... Show less
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.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Diary
Claire McAdams, courtesy Houston Ballet

Former Houston Ballet dancer Chun Wai Chan has always been destined for New York City Ballet.

While competing at Prix de Lausanne in 2010, he was offered summer program scholarships at both the School of American Ballet and Houston Ballet. However, because two of the competition's winners that year were Houston Ballet's Aaron Sharratt and Liao Xiang, dancers Chan idolized, he turned down SAB. He joined Houston Ballet II in 2010, the main company's corps de ballet in 2012, and was promoted to principal in 2017. Oozing confidence and technical prowess, Chan was a Houston favorite, and even landed himself a spot on Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch."

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.