IS there a science to setting class fees? To help you decide the right balance for your studio, DT approached several studio owners from around the country to discover there is a method to the madness: rates, payment schedules, methods of payment and more!

Suzanne Blake Gerety

Kathy Blake Dance Studios

Amherst, NH

With approximately 900 students enrolled, Kathy Blake Dance Studios has fashioned itself after a performing arts school format with a 10-month “school year” from September to June. Families make 10 monthly payments in cash, credit card or check, of $52–$58 based on the number of class hours dancers opt to take (from half-hour to one-and-a-half-hour increments). For instance, a student enrolled in a half-hour weekly jazz class pays $52 monthly, whereas a student pays $56 monthly for a one-hour weekly hip-hop class. A 10 percent discount is given for each additional class, and an unlimited “Dance Pass” is $190/month. “Once you hit four classes, it makes more sense financially to flip into the Dance Pass,” says Vice President Suzanne Blake Gerety.

Overall, the monthly system has been a big hit. “When you break your tuition down into smaller payments for people, it can feel more manageable and cut down on sticker shock,” she says. “Going to a 10-month model has also made a huge difference in our own consistency of cash flow.”

Another positive development has been the introduction of parent discounts for the studio’s adult classes. “We give 50 percent off tuition for parents to take any class they want, which has really helped enrollment and retention,” says Gerety. “When parents are excited about taking dance classes, they’re less likely to take their kids to another studio.”

Janet Gray

Janet Gray Studios

Salt Lake City, UT

With the Salt Lake City area populated with professional dancers who grace everything from the Disney screen to the stage, Janet Gray sets her rates on par with other major metropolitan studios. “I continually check the drop-in class rates at Chicago Human Rhythm Project, Ailey Extension and L.A.’s EDGE Performing Arts Center and Debbie Reynolds Studio,” says Gray, who charges $15/single class. “Instead of committing to a huge dance card that will expire in 30 days, students can pay as they go to accommodate their busy schedules.”

She also offers incentives for those of her 390 students who take multiple classes: $12 each for 2 to 11 classes per month or $10 each for 12 or more classes. To take advantage of the lower rates, fees must be paid by the seventh of each month. Only cash and personal checks are accepted, which helps Gray keep costs down.

Dalana Moore

Encore Performance Company

Vestavia Hills, AL

Owner Dalana Moore offers a multifamily member discount at Encore. The first dancer pays $45 monthly per class hour, and each additional sibling receives half off tuition. Families can also take advantage of a five percent discount for paying the full year’s tuition in advance. And to be fair to all students, individual dancers who don’t have siblings taking classes pay $30 per class hour rates when they enroll in three or more classes.

Moore charges first and last month’s tuition upon first enrollment. “Even though it is a chunk of money, parents usually prefer to pay it in the beginning than have to add it on top of recital fees at the end of the season,” she says.

Moore uses Studio Director software for an online approach to billing and registration. Statements are e-mailed the first week of the month, and parents can check their balances online at any time. “It has saved us so much time in the office,” she says.

Julia Bubalo

Ozark Dance Academy

Ozark, MO

Julia Bubalo sets class fees by analyzing her expenses and dividing by the projected number of students. (She also charges a $10 registration fee and a $50 performance fee for those who dance in the annual recital.) With an enrollment of about 80 students, she also offers

multiple-class and multifamily member discounts: “My structure is that the more you dance, the less per class,” she says. “We want to encourage people to try other styles or go ahead and take that second class.”

Like Gerety and Moore, Bubalo charges students a monthly fee based on how many class hours per week are spent at the studio. Fees range from $30 to $150, with increments from half-hour classes to six hours per week. Those on the competition team pay an extra $20 monthly. When summer rolls around, Bubalo’s approach to pricing changes, with dancers purchasing dance cards in increments of 5, 10 or 20 classes to be used over several months. “If kids are in the pool, their parents don’t have to drag them out because they’re missing dance class,” says Bubalo. “It works well for us and adds an element of flexibility.” DT

A former hip-hop, dance fitness and cheerleading instructor, Jen Jones is a Los Angeles–based freelance writer.

Illustration by Emily Giacalone

The Conversation
Dance Teachers Trending
Photo courtesy of Hightower

The beloved "So You Think You Can Dance" alum and former Emmy-nominated "Dancing with the Stars" pro Chelsie Hightower discovered her passion for ballroom at a young age. She showed a natural ability for the Latin style, but she mastered the necessary versatility by studying jazz, ballet and other forms of dance. "Every style of dance builds on each other," she says, "and the more music you're exposed to, the more your rhythm and coordination is built."

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Success with Just for Kix
Bill Johnson, Courtesy Just for Kix

Running a dance studio is a feat in itself. But adding a competition team into the mix brings a whole new set of challenges. Not only are you focusing on giving your dancers the best training possible, but you're navigating the fast-paced competition and convention circuit. Winning is one goal, but you also want to create an environment that's fun, educational and inspiring for young artists. We asked Cindy Clough, executive director of Just For Kix and a studio owner with over 40 years of experience, for her advice on building a healthy dance team culture:

Keep reading... Show less
Just for fun
Via Instagram

Happy Father's Day to all of the dance dads in the world! Whether you're professional dancers, dance teachers, dance directors or simply just dance supporters, you are a key ingredient to what makes the dance world such a happy, thriving place, and we love you!

To celebrate, here are our four favorite Instagram dance dads. Prepare to say "Awwwwwwwweeeeeee!!!!!!"

You're welcome!

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Insure Fitness
AdobeStock, Courtesy Insure Fitness Group

As a teacher at a studio, you've more than likely developed long-lasting relationships with some of your students and parents. The idea that you could be sued by one of them might seem impossible to imagine, but Insure Fitness Group's Gianna Michalsen warns against relaxing into that mindset. "People say, 'Why do I need insurance? I've been working with these people for 10 years—we're friends,'" she says. "But no one ever takes into account how bad an injury can be. Despite how good your relationship is, people will sue you because of the toll an injury takes on their life."

You'll benefit most from an insurance policy that caters to the specifics of teaching dance at one or several studios. Here's what to look for:

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Owners
Getty Images

If you're a studio owner, the thought of raising your rates most likely makes you cringe. Despite ever-increasing overhead expenses you can't avoid—rent, salaries, insurance—you're probably wary of alienating your customers, losing students or inviting confrontation if you increase the price of your tuition or registration and recital fees. DT spoke with three veteran studio owners who suggest it's time to get past that. Here's how to give your business the revenue boost it needs and the value justification it (and you) deserve.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by World Class Vacations
David Galindo Photography

New York City is a dream destination for many dancers. However aspiring Broadway stars don't have to wait until they're pros to experience all the city has to offer. With Dance the World Broadway, students can get a taste of the Big Apple—plus hone their dance skills and make lasting memories.

Here's why Dance the World Broadway is the best way for students to experience NYC:

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teachers Trending
Margie Gillis (left); photo by Kyle Froman

Margie Gillis dances the human experience. Undulating naked in a field of billowing grass in Lessons from Nature 4, or whirling in a sweep of lilac fabric in her signature work Slipstream, her movement is free of flashy technique and tricks, but driven and defined by emotion. "There's a central philosophy in my work about what the experience of being human is," says Gillis, whose movement style is an alchemy of Isadora Duncan's uninhibited self-expression and Paul Taylor's musicality, blended with elements of dance theater into something utterly unique and immediately accessible. "I want an authenticity," she says. "I want to touch my audiences profoundly and deeply."

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Getty Images

Teaching arabesque can be a challenge for educators and students alike. Differences in body types, flexibility and strength can leave dancers feeling dejected about the possibility of improving this essential position.

To help each of us in our quest for establishing beautiful arabesques in our students without bringing them to tears, we caught up with University of Utah ballet teacher Jennie Creer-King. After her professional career dancing with Ballet West and Oregon Ballet Theater and her years of teaching at the studio and college levels, she's become a bit of an arabesque expert.

Here she shares five important tips for increasing the height of your students' arabesques.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Photo by Jennifer Kleinman, courtesy of Danell Hathaway

It's high school dance concert season, which means a lot of you K–12 teachers are likely feeling a bit overwhelmed. The long nights of editing music, rounding up costumes and printing programs are upon you, and we salute you. You do great work, and if you just hang on a little while longer, you'll be able to bathe in the applause that comes after the final Saturday night curtain.

To give you a bit of inspiration for your upcoming performances, we talked with Olympus High School dance teacher Danell Hathaway, who just wrapped her school's latest dance company concert. The Salt Lake City–based K–12 teacher shares her six pieces of advice for knocking your show out of the park.

Keep reading... Show less
Getty Images

Q: I'm looking to create some summer rituals and traditions at my studio. What are some of the things you do?

A: Creating fun and engaging moments for your students, staff and families can have a positive impact on your studio culture. Whether it's a big event or a small gesture, we've found that traditions build connection, boost morale and create strong bonds. I reached out to a variety of studio owners to gather some ideas for you to try this summer. Here's what they had to say.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Sam Williams and Jaxon Willard after competition at RADIX. Photo courtesy of Williams

Self-choreographed solos are becoming increasingly popular on the competition circuit these days, leading dance teachers to incorporate more creative mentoring into their rehearsal and class schedules. In this new world of developing both technical training and choreographic prowess, finding the right balance of assisting without totally hijacking a student's choreographic process can be difficult.

To help, we caught up with a teacher who's already braved these waters by assisting "World of Dance" phenom Jaxon Willard with his viral audition solos. Center Stage Performing Arts Studio company director Sam Williams from Orem, Utah, shares her sage wisdom below.

Check it out!

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Owners
Getty Images

Dance studios are run by creative people with busy schedules, who have a love-hate relationship with props and sequins. The results of all this glitter and glam? General mass chaos in every drawer, costume closet and prop corner of the studio. Let's be honest, not many dance teachers are particularly known for their tidiness. The ability to get 21 dancers to spot in total synchronization? Absolutely! The stamina to run 10 solos, 5 group numbers, 2 ballet classes and 1 jazz class in one day? Of course! The emotional maturity to navigate a minefield of angry parents and hormonal teenagers? You know it!

Keeping the studio tidy? Well...that's another story.

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox