Is it better to start a studio from scratch?

Q: I’m a longtime teacher faced with two opportunities. First: The studio where I’ve worked for 12 years is for sale. Second: I’ve found a new location where I could start my own studio. I’m hesitant to purchase the current studio because of staffing and identity issues and debt I’d assume. Should I spend thousands for a guaranteed clientele, or invest in a new business and build my own brand?

A: Take time to thoroughly evaluate both options, and it will become clear which direction might be best financially and professionally. Also, know that there is no such thing as a guaranteed clientele. For the first location: Hire a reputable attorney and an experienced accountant to survey the financial health of the studio. They can also help clarify debt you’d be assuming and determine a fair purchase price. Things to consider: If the studio has had consistent enrollment that’s not tied to the current owner teaching classes, you may see immediate cash flow if other faculty members stay. However, if the studio is in a bad location, has a poor reputation and is in need of renovations, it may make sense to start from scratch.

That being said, opening a new location may be cost-prohibitive unless you have significant savings to establish your business and last until you build a solid student body. You’ll be paying for flooring, barres, mirrors, stereo equipment, computers, utilities, insurance and licensing fees. Also, don’t forget to factor in a budget for marketing, a website, signage and studio-management software. Know how much all this will cost before investing. Keep in mind that there are leasing terms to be negotiated (like rent escalation and building maintenance); we recommend hiring professional help from a lease specialist, broker or attorney.

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

Photo by B Hansen Photography, courtesy of Suzanne Blake Gerety

Getty Images

Despite worldwide theater closures, the Universal Ballet Competition is keeping The Nutcracker tradition alive in 2020 with an online international competition. The event culminates in a streamed, full-length video of The Virtual Nutcracker consisting of winning entries on December 19. The competition is calling on studios, as well as dancers of all ages and levels, to submit videos by November 29 to be considered.

"Nutcracker is a tradition that is ingrained in our hearts," says UBC co-founder Lissette Salgado-Lucas, a former dancer with Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Joffrey Ballet. "We danced it for so long as professionals, we can't wait to pass it along to dancers through this competition."

Keep reading... Show less
Robbie Sweeny, courtesy Funsch

Christy Funsch's teaching career has taken her from New York City to the Bay Area to Portugal, with a stint in a punk band in between. But this fall—fresh off a Fulbright in Portugal at the Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa, School of Dance (ESD), teaching and researching empathetic embodiment through somatic dance training—Funsch's teaching has taken her to an entirely new location: Zoom. A visiting professor at Slippery Rock University for the 2020–21 academic year, Funsch is adapting her eclectic, boundary-pushing approach to her virtual classes.

Originally from central New York State, Funsch spent 20 years performing in the Bay Area, where she also started her own company, Funsch Dance Experience. "My choreographic work from that time is in the dance-theater experiential, fantasy realm of performance," she says. "I also started blending genres and a lot of urban styles found their way into my choreography."

Keep reading... Show less
Courtesy Meg Brooker

As the presidential election approaches, it's a particularly meaningful time to remember that we are celebrating the centennial of the 19th Amendment, when women earned the right to vote after a decades-long battle.

Movement was more than a metaphor for the fight for women's suffrage—dancers played a real role, most notably Florence Fleming Noyes, who performed her riveting solo Dance of Freedom in 1914 to embody the struggle for women's rights.

This fall, Middle Tennessee State University director of dance Meg Brooker is reconstructing Dance of Freedom on 11 of her students. A Noyes Rhythm teacher and an Isadora Duncan scholar, Brooker is passionate about bringing historic dance practices into a contemporary context.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.