Ask the Experts: Pricing Private Lessons

How do you price private lessons—per session or per hour? What’s your rate? If you aren’t the one teaching the lessons, how do you split the profit between teacher and studio?

Most studio owners offer half-hour or hour lessons with pricing that reflects the type of instruction and services they or their teachers are providing. For example, lessons on technique and general instruction are often priced differently from those that include choreography (which usually makes the cost go up). You may wish to offer private or semi-private coaching options at a reduced price for students in your performance company who want feedback on their solos and duos.

Before you decide what to pay your teachers, it is important to know your liability and responsibility as the studio owner. You might think you’re saving money on administrative costs or taxes by letting students pay teachers directly or paying teachers as independent contractors, but the risks associated with this may be more costly in the long run. If this is the protocol at your studio, you are essentially letting your teachers run a business within your business—and they should provide their own liability insurance and/or pay you a studio rental fee to use the space. We recommend you consult with your insurance agent to know what is covered by you and what should be required of your teachers.

At our studio, we charge students $30 per half hour and $55 per hour for private lessons. We also offer a discount incentive: If parents pay for 10 lessons in advance, they receive 10 percent off the total price. Our teachers are paid as employees with standard tax deductions at this agreed-upon rate—they earn $20 for a 30-minute lesson and $40 for an hour lesson. The studio keeps the remainder to cover the cost of commercial and liability insurance, utilities and office administration. 

Kathy Blake is the owner of Kathy Blake Dance Studios in Amherst, New Hampshire. She and Suzanne Blake Gerety are the co-founders of

Photo by B Hansen Photography, courtesy of Suzanne Blake Gerety

Higher Ed
The author, Robyn Watson. Photo courtesy Watson

Recently, I posted a thread of tweets elucidating the lack of respect for tap dance in college dance programs, and arguing that it should be a requirement for dance majors.

According to, out of the 30 top-ranked college dance programs in the U.S., tap dance is offered at 19 of them, but only one school requires majors to take more than a beginner course—Oklahoma City University. Many prestigious dance programs, like the ones at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and SUNY Purchase, don't offer a single course in tap dance.

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Getty Images

After months of lockdowns and virtual learning, many studios across the country are opening their doors and returning to in-person classes. Teachers and students alike have likely been chomping at the bit in anticipation of the return of dance-class normalcy that doesn't require a reliable internet connection or converting your living room into a dance space.

But along with the back-to-school excitement, dancers might be feeling rusty from being away from the studio for so long. A loss of flexibility, strength and stamina is to be expected, not to mention emotional fatigue from all of the uncertainty and reacclimating to social activities.

So as much as everyone wants to get back to normal—teachers and studio owners included—erring on the side of caution with your dancers' training will be the most beneficial approach in the long run.

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Photo courtesy TUPAC

When legendary Black ballet dancer Kabby Mitchell III died unexpectedly in 2017, two months before opening his Tacoma Urban Performing Arts Center, his friend and business partner Klair Ethridge wasn't sure she had what it took to carry his legacy. Ethridge had been working with Mitchell to co-found TUPAC and planned to serve as its executive director, but she had never envisioned being the face of the school.

Now, Ethridge is heading into her fourth year of leading TUPAC, which she has grown from a fledgling program in an unheated building to a serious ballet school in its own sprung-floor studios, reaching hundreds of students across the Tacoma, Washington, area. The nonprofit has become a case study for what it looks like to carry out the vision of a founder who never had the chance to see his school open—and to take an unapologetically mission-driven approach.

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