Dance Unlimited student Brielle Thomson

Seen & Heard At the Dance Teacher Summit

Danie Beck

Former owner, Dance Unlimited

Miami, FL

350 students

Though she sold Dance Unlimited in 2011, Danie Beck has 55-plus years of experience, and she remains involved in the industry, providing consulting services to other studio owners. She freshens up her business knowledge each year at the Dance Teacher Summit, where she’s been an ambassador for four years.

Dance Teacher: What was the most surprising question you heard at this year’s Summit?

Danie Beck: Some of the new studio owners who had been in business under five years seemed afraid to make changes. A lot of it had to do with money—I’d suggest adding on a fee for competitions or for late payments, and they’d say, “Oh I’ve never done that.” That’s OK, though! We all go through that. You can’t be afraid to step out of the original four-corner box you created when you opened; you have to change with the times. Approach it in a positive way, and understand you can’t please everybody. You have to do what’s best for your business and the majority of your clientele.

DT: When you first opened your studio, what did you struggle with most?

DB: I was raised in the trade, so I struggled with forming my own identity. My mom was a studio owner and I remember saying, “Mother, someday you’re going to be known as Danie Beck’s mother instead of me being known as your daughter.” Since I grew up in the studio, I had that experience backing me, and I saw it all around me, but I had to build that confidence. It’s about knowing what you’re capable of and know that what you’re teaching your students is correct. —Andrea Marks

Photo courtesy of Danie Beck

Seen & Heard At the Dance Teacher Summit

Danie Beck speaking at the 2012 Dance Teacher Summit; below: Dance Unlimited competition students in performance.

 Danie Beck

former owner, Dance Unlimited

Miami, FL

400 students

As owner of Dance Unlimited for over 40 years, Danie Beck has seen her students go on to study dance in college and perform in national Broadway touring companies. A Dance Teacher Summit ambassador for three years, Beck has recently sold Dance Unlimited to a former student.

Dance Teacher: Over the years, you’ve had as many as 500 students performing in just one yearly recital weekend. How do you organize ticketing for such a high-volume event?

Danie Beck: For many years we went through the “waiting in line at 4 am with a lawn chair” routine, so by the time the parents got into the studio, they were so aggravated it was like dealing with a tiger! And when they got to the auditorium for the show, the grandmother would be saving six seats with a sweater, a purse and an umbrella and people got annoyed.

Something had to change. I couldn’t go through this horrific mob scene every year, so we started a lottery for requesting tickets. There’s an open period of about a week when parents can come in, draw lottery numbers and fill out ticket request forms for each show. At first the office would be mobbed on the first day, but people have learned it really is strictly luck of the draw, and it doesn’t matter when they come. They have an equal chance of getting the seats they want whether they arrive on the first hour of the first day, or right at the end.

DT: How do you assign tickets once you have the ticket request forms?

DB: I do it. I can do about one show an evening, going through the ticket forms, filling each request the best I can, starting with the lowest lottery number. It works well, it’s organized and everyone is polite about it. They understand it’s luck of the draw. One year you might draw number 9; the next year you might draw 99.

I also use the lottery to encourage early registration. If you register early, before April, you draw from a lottery bag of 1–50 instead of 1–100. So it’s useful as an in-house tool for registration, as well.

DT: Did you get a lot of pushback from parents when you made that change?

DB: I was lucky that the lottery worked right off the bat. When you make a big change, you have to believe in it, and you have to show that you do. You go in with a positive attitude. “It’s going to be so much better, you’re all going to be happier,” and so on. Then, once you’re made the change, you work with what you’ve created. You can expand it, or if it’s not working the way you’d hoped, you can adjust it, but you don’t need to announce that. You don’t say, “It wasn’t working like I wanted.” Always stay positive, because if people doubt the way you’re thinking, then they’re going to question every move you make. You simply say, “Yes, that worked well, but I think this will work even better.”

Andrea Marks

Photos from top: courtesy of Break the Floor Productions; courtesy of Dance Unlimited

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