Married—with Dance Students

How does it work when you work with your spouse? As part of our May issue's Best Practices for Studio Management, we asked three couples to talk about their partnerships—how exactly can a dance studio owner keep her head when her business and marriage are intertwined? Here's what one couple had to say:

Barry Carroll and Joanne Chapman have been running Joanne Chapman School of Dance in Brampton, Ontario, together for 28 of its 42 years. Carroll, a plumber by trade, took over administrative duties after the bottom had fallen out of the construction market. Today, he is the studio’s ace front man and completely involved in the business aspects of the studio. Their two daughters are also full-time teachers, so it’s a full family affair.

“It works so well because we are not doing the same job,” says Chapman, who admits there’s been a learning curve. She says it helps to have someone at the front desk who is not a teacher, hence not judgmental in any way. “He deals directly with the parents and sometimes brings that perspective to me.”

“Barry is not a typical dance-world type. He’s more of a guy’s guy, which means dads love hanging out at the studio,” she says. “He loves ice hockey and golf. In fact, he organizes a popular yearly golf trip for the dads.” And because dance can be an all-consuming life, they work at keeping varied personal schedules. “It helps that we both have friends and interests outside of the dance world,” she says. “It keeps us grounded.” —Nancy Wozny

Meet Joanne in person at the Dance Teacher Summit! (She's one of our DT Summit ambassadors.)

For more advice about studio management, subscribe here and receive the May issue.

Photo by Dan Boskovic/Exposé Studios, courtesy of Chapman

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