Today we're featuring DT Summit ambassador Bonnie Schuetz, who has owned Boni's Dance & Performing Arts Studio in The Woodlands and Spring, Texas, for more than 30 years. We spoke to her about keeping her dancers healthy during performance season and asked her to reflect on her first year as an ambassador.

Boni’s Dance & Performing Arts Studio

Number of students: 1,600

Boni's Dance & Performing Arts students in The Nutcracker

Dance Teacher: Your company students perform over 12 times per year—at competitions, community shows, recitals and The Nutcracker. How do you make sure that they aren’t overdoing it as they prepare for these performances?

Bonnie Schuetz: We really try not to push our kids. I monitor them as much as possible. During Nutcracker season, I don’t like them to have competition solo or duet rehearsals on weekends. In fact, I don’t allow them at all on Sundays, which is the day of our Nutcracker rehearsals. We want the dancers to have lives, to be kids and teenagers, to go to homecoming, etc. It makes us a much happier family.

And when they are injured, I make sure that they’re not trying to dance. If their doctor’s note says six weeks off, they’re going to be off for six weeks. Their bones are soft, and they’ve got to rest. We’re really careful.

DT: 2011 was your first year as a Dance Teacher Summit ambassador. What was it like?

BS: In previous years, I just had so much in my brain that I wanted to share. This year, I was thrilled that I got an opportunity to do that. I’ve been a teacher for over 40 years and had my studio for more than 30, but I still learn something every time I go to the Summit. I think my favorite thing is just to sit around that round table and talk.

DT: What was the main message of the seminar that you ran, “Pre-School Ideas”?

BS: Adding programming for preschoolers can really be the bread and butter of your business. Studio owners love teaching, but they have to remember that it is also a business. For some reason people think that dance teachers aren’t supposed to make any money. Most of us would just do this from the bottom of our hearts—and I did that for years—but we can also be successful businesspeople if we think outside of the box. The best way to make money is to take advantage of your existing clientele. They’re already in your building, so just sell them something else. —Rachel Zar

Photos from top: courtesy of Bonnie Schuetz; by Brenda Bolton, courtesy of Bonnie Schuetz

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