At the 2011 Dance Teacher Summit in July, 13 studio owners acted as ambassadors, leading seminars throughout the weekend and chatting with teachers at a booth in the exhibit hall. Ambassador Tiffany Henderson, owner/director of Tiffany’s Dance Studio, spoke to DT about her Summit experience.
Tiffany’s Dance Studio
San Francisco Bay Area and Orange County, CA
Number of locations: 7
Total number of students: 3,000
Number of students in a performance company: 300
Dance Teacher: What was your favorite moment from this year’s Summit?
Tiffany Henderson: Luigi’s class was a once in a lifetime opportunity. It’s so important that we always remember where everything we’re doing now came from, and show respect for those who came before us.
DT: Did you bring anything you heard at the Summit back to your studio?
TH: In the Studio Owners Session, we brainstormed ideas for out-of-the-box marketing strategies. When I got back, I started hosting monthly Princess Tea Parties for 3- to 6-year-olds. Enrolled students can attend for free if they bring a friend who’s not enrolled. In our first month, we had 20 kids attend tea parties at each of our seven locations, and we had three to five new kids register at each studio. That was really valuable.
DT: Why did you choose to lead a seminar on recreational dancers?
TH: I’d noticed at the 2010 Summit that, no matter what a seminar topic was, teachers always ended up focusing on competition. But we shouldn’t forget about the kids who are really feeding our business: the recreational dancers. It’s important to make them feel valued and make sure that the whole studio isn’t centered on competition. It’s not great when students walk in, and all they see is trophies, or when your whole newsletter focuses on the last competition. Out of 3,000 students at my studio, only 10 percent are competitive.
DT: You take your students to more conventions than competitions. Why do you like the convention scene?
TH: I love that conventions are not just about the competition, but about getting into class with kids from other studios. No matter what happens in competition on Friday or Saturday night, you get up the next morning and you go back to class.
We take close to 200 dancers to conventions, starting when they’re 6. The little guys may go into a class and only get one step, but they always come back to the studio stronger dancers due to the energy and inspiration from the weekend. —Rachel Zar
JUMP photo by Donna Matsu; headshot by Jeff Firestone; all photos courtesy of Tiffany Henderson