Associate editor Rachel Rizzuto is originally from Chalmette, Louisiana. She dances for MMDC and heads her own project-based company, touche pas. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi with degrees in dance and English, she edits the Face to Face, Higher Ed, Technique, Theory & Practice and Business columns. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Offering discounts at your studio—for families with multiple children taking class, for a dancer who takes multiple classes, for paying a year's tuition up front—can become a slippery slope for an owner. CPA Sean Dever, who also does studio-bookkeeping consulting work, likes to remind his clients that discounts aren't nearly as common in other businesses. "Say you and a group went to dinner tonight—you bought five meals. Did the restaurant give you 20 percent off for the second and third meal? How much does the Holiday Inn discount for staying a second night or bringing a second guest?" he asks. "Everything we buy as consumers is never discounted, yet studio owners all feel the need to discount. Chances are, you're discounting way more than you're actually making."
Discounting doesn't need to be a one-up from the studio down the street. Nor should it be a guessing game or a complex mathematical formula. Here's how you can determine, set and offer discounts that make sense, without ending up in the red.
Demonstrators Claire Crause and Avery Sobczak. Photo by Kyle Froman
This partnering move is all about the weight transfer, say Chris and Lauren Grant. "It's not about Hulk-Hoganing someone," says Lauren. The flyer and base must keep their hips together throughout, so that the weight of the flyer can pour gently onto the thighs of the base, rather than just dumping.
At Brookfield Center for the Arts, owner Mandy Winiecki gives parents what she calls a "five-diamond experience." Her Wisconsin–based studio caters to an affluent community, and she takes advantage: "Instead of trying to be the cheapest," she says, "we are the most expensive. But we deliver the best of the best." Here are her suggestions for taking customer experience to the next level.
Parents: Can't live with them, can't run a studio without them. They aren't shy about voicing their opinions, asking for special treatment or complaining about tuition rates. But they are, first and foremost, your customers, and that means they're entitled to a great customer experience. "Remember that you're in a service business," says Frank Sahlein of 3rd Level Consulting, who often works with studio owners to grow and improve their businesses. Here are five things you owe your customers—and easily implemented methods for meeting their needs.
Robin Dunn, right, and dancer Caleb Smith. Photo by Kyle Froman
Robin Dunn loves to teach the sexy walk in her beginner hip-hop classes, because it's a basic step, yet students can put their own mark on it. Two key things to remember: Maintain a light bounce and relax the upper body throughout. "Another key thing? Put your personality into it," says Dunn.
Though a new studio year brings with it its own stressors—class scheduling, orientation, newly sore muscles—you'd be remiss if you didn't also use this opportunity to carefully consider what's been working (and what hasn't) for your studio. Is it time to repaint your lobby? Get rid of that more-trouble-than-it's-worth vending machine? Finally add a social-media clause to your student handbook? August is your chance to roll up your sleeves and give every aspect of your business the mental elbow grease it needs.
Unlike a usual waltz, in which the lift and dip would come from the legs, this waltz from Paul Taylor's Cloven Kingdom (1976) requires the up-and-down motion to come solely from the torso. The legs remain in plié the entire time, eating space. (When this piece is performed, dancers traverse the length of the stage using one pass of this waltz.)
Julie Kent is coaching two dancers from The Washington Ballet Trainee Program on a partnered penché, but she might as well be addressing herself. The longtime American Ballet Theatre principal retired from the stage in 2015, after a 29-year career spent mesmerizing audiences. A little over a year later, she became the artistic director of The Washington Ballet.
Though the ballet world—including, at first, Kent herself—was surprised by The Washington Ballet's push for her leadership, in retrospect, it felt like the prima ballerina's natural next step. Kent's career has been a steady ascension, marked by quiet discipline, easy musicality and an abundance of natural grace. She moved quickly through the ranks at ABT, tackling dramatic roles of the last three centuries—Petipa's Giselle and Kenneth MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet among them—with focus and agility. The question quickly became: Why shouldn't someone with such a wealth of experience and attention to detail lead an internationally recognized company?