Parents…..We need to have a chat.

Let me present a scenario for all you dance parents out there:

Your little girl or boy loves dance. They work day and night even when they were tinny. They gave up birthdays and holidays because they wanted to be the best. Your family sacrificed for years to be able to provide their child with the best training so that one day they may realise their artistic dream in whatever capacity they can.

Adulthood comes. You watch your once child turn into a beautiful adult and wonderful dance professional. You have affirmation that all those years of hard work and sacrifice were worth it. You just want the best for your child. You just want them to be appreciated. You want them to succeed doing what they love.

Now remember not everyone loves to work. So many people wait for Fridays or days off. They didn’t study their whole life to be what they are today. A dancer has studied, invested and focused ALL of their energy to be who and what they are today. This is not just a job….it is their life.

Now imagine this: Everyday your once little boy or girl attends a job they love with every bone in their body and every day someone tries to dictate to them what they should be doing and how they should do it. Just imagine that no one is ever happy with them. That the hours and hours of passion and investment are just not enough. That ultimately their community and dance parents have little to no faith in their ability to do their job.

As a parent how would you feel if after all those years of hopes and dreams parents and students decide that your child is not worthy of respect?

Welcome to the world of so many dance teachers out there that make this their career; their life; their everything. I would like to explain why I think parents are slowly killing dance.

We can’t deny that children deserve love, respect and learning opportunities. But can we also agree that they need food, shelter, warmth and medical care. At no point could you walk into Coles and ask for free food or tell them you will pay them later. Not even for the most basic of services can you frequently leave an IOU message without being arrested or having some sort of negative consequences. So at what point can you walk into a small business with non essential services and dictate things like payment terms and prices. At no point have you been privy to budgets, staff costs, experience vs pay rates, industry standards and any other monetary aspect of the business. So at what point do you think you can haggle with me or any other dance studio. When McDonalds raised their prices for meals did you throw them a $5 and say “that will do.” Costs rise and fall according to many things. Price increases come with things like growth, environmental changes and staff requirements. And ultimately there are things to bargain with and I don’t think it is your child’s learning. Ultimately if you think something is too expensive then do your research. If you think the studio is not worth the investment then go somewhere else. If you didn’t know, studio owners often pay themselves last, are the first to bare the consequences of unpaid invoices, and work hours that you couldn’t even begin to imagine. Unless you would like to become a part owner in my business by investing a large sum of money then you my friend are not on my board of directors and do not have a say on how I set my prices. PS. You sending your child to my school does not make you a part owner, it makes you a client. Client privileges only go so far. Just think as to whether you would do or say even half the things you say to a studio owner to any other the electricity company, bank or grocery store…..

If you don’t trust me find another studio!! If you think someone else can do it better ……find another studio!!! If you are overall happy with our studio, my teaching and have a concern, treat me like you would any other business you respect: Let us know privately and give us an opportunity to fix it. If we can’t fix it or its something that really you have no right to demand but you think you do anyway than…I’m sure you know it’s coming…..Go to another studio. Whether you have sat in an audience or attended dance classes for 5 minutes or 5 years I promise you you still don’t have a clue how to do my job. Lets look at an example: I have had a bank account for 33 years. Under no circumstances do I believe I should be heard at the top level by Bank Management as to what is going to make my life easier while banking or how they should be doing things regarding procedures and policies. If I feel something is not right I call and speak to them. If they don’t see my concern as valid its one of two things 1) NOT VALID or 2) THE COMPANY IS NOT RIGHT FOR ME!!!! It’s that simple. Abusing them, not paying bills, wasting time badmouthing them are all things none of us really do because ultimately we look absolutely foolish pretending we know things about an industry that we fully do not understand. You shop at Coles but how many times have you told them to change their logo or that you know where to find strawberries at a cheaper price…..all things you just don’t do. So trust, respect and listening are things you need to do as a dance parent. If you don’t trust, respect or like what you are hearing from the instructor then simply turn around and walk in the direction from once you came because let me tell you if my birth parents heard all the things people say to me they would be heartbroken.

Dance in general:
Parents you do not set the rules. We set the rules. You don’t even know why the rules are there in the first place. We didn’t really create dance. We simply teach its foundation, techniques and concepts and add our own interpretation to it in order to bring the staples of dance to life. I can’t change certain things about dance just because it does not suit you. In a group guess what SOMEBODY AT SOME POINT HAS TO BE IN A BACK ROW….OR ELSE IT’S ONE GIANT LINE ALL THE TIME!!!!!!!!!!! Global dance standards have risen. I didn’t personally do it all by myself, it’s hard working parents, teachers and students along with amazing global forums that did that as a collective. If you can’t keep up for whatever reason; money, time, natural ability, poor attitude whatever don’t blame me if you don’t get a solo, make the competition team, win at comps or fail at exams. If you are blaming me or your dance instructor for any of these outcomes it really is time to take responsibility for your role in your child’s life. If the dance school is reputable, has excellent instruction, and has produced consistently amazing results then at no point can I or any other dance teacher be the parent for your child and or be responsible for your child’s failures. We can only motivate so much. We can only teach so much. And if they are not showing up knowing what we taught the week before and lack motivation how in the world are we able to create a dancer. Impossible. But yet parents expect that because they show up (sometimes) that us dance teachers are supposed to deal with everything that they don’t want to and also produce results. CRAZY CRAZY CRAZY CONCEPT!!

How is this killing the dance industry:
Every time you undermine a dance professional you devalue dance to anyone who is listening and unfortunately can chip away at the love the teacher has for their craft. The amount of parents who are not putting their children in dance because they think it is full of nasty people saddens me. Mothers telling me “no way”. “Im not a dance mum!!” But what does that even mean? Competitions are catering to parents demands. Studios are changing their rules based on the whims of parents for fear of losing business. Studios and their owners are closing their doors because they allow people to not pay their bills. Creatively teachers can lose their vision and drive due to so much stress and unwanted negative attention. Classrooms become volatile when parents over step their bounds. And the list goes on and on and on and on. Why would you want your child to pursue dance if all you see is angry, disrespectful parents hounding the school and teachers daily? Why would little girls and boys choose dance as a future knowing that it could mean a future of heart ache and financial loss? We will lose dance and all its wonders if we continue to let non-professionals run our industry.

Dance teachers are hurting right now because they are often being railroaded by demanding, disrespectful parents who just do not have a clue.

Guilty Parents lets try the following:

* Do your research
* Accept the limitations of the life you have chosen.
* Pay your bills on time once you have registered.
* Adhere to the policies, practices, training schedule and expectations of your program.

If you do all that and are not happy than discuss, try to rectify and/or move on. See how easy that is.

Now for all those incredible parents that recognise the good work we do I’m sending A MASSIVE MASSIVE THANKYOU!!! Right now I think I can speak for every dance teacher when I say YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN ARE WHY WE KEEP DOING THIS.


So If I have offended you than you are guilty and should be ashamed of the way you have treated your local dance school. If I have helped you see things in a different light than great. Just remember my parents and I sacrificed to be great in this industry. I was once a little girl just like yours. My parents gave up everything to see me succeed just like you. Now they watch people undermine my business on a daily basis and make what I do feel small and insignificant. Just remember, treat your dance teacher like you would want someone to treat your little person when they grow up to pursue their passion just like I did!



Published by everythingdancewithashley

Ashley Grottoli is an award winning dancer and choreographer who has helped thousands of students achieve their personal and professional goals. "Teach a dancer tricks and they are impressive on Instagram; Teach a dancer to harness their mind and body’s full potential and they can become anything they want to be" says Ashley.

6 thoughts on “Parents…..We need to have a chat.

  1. As a dance mum I always try to respect the teachers and my new school gives that back ten fold. It is when you are a school that does not treat their clients with respect where I think these troubles begin. A little bit of respect and the right information can go a long way to helping parents understand choices that are made, so for those dance schools that do get frustrated it might help to put yourself in the shoes of the parent every now and then. It is an expensive sport for our children to be a part of and not every child wants to be a dancer as a career so don’t forget they are allowed to have a life outside of dance too.


    1. Dear Dance Mum LB,

      I am wondering what trying to respect someone looks like? I thought respecting someone meant you simply “respect them” even if you don’t agree or understand their reasoning. If you are at a school that does not treat you well, as you said, than the responsible thing to do is leave. Schools that do not treat students well will simply, over time, not have students. I would like to see more wanna be dance teachers and studios go out of business so you would be doing the students, parents and industry a favour if you did.

      The reason there are so many levels of dance is because we do put ourselves in your shoes. ANY GOOD STUDIO WILL HAVE YOUR CHILD IN A CLASS THAT SUITS YOU! This is what I am trying to educate you on. If you sign up and tell the studio “my daughter just wants to have fun” and then gives you a schedule that reads 4 nights a week and 8 competitions a year then that studio didn’t listen to your needs and is not a good school. Now its your job to do your research. If you go with it than thats your fault. Parents need to take responsibility for their participation in choosing a school, continuing to stay with a school and how they deal with grievances. No one can force you to attend a school you don’t like. No one can force your child to attend classes you don’t want them to attend.

      And as for money, I have very little sympathy for anyone who lives in a country like Australia. I watched my mom deny my father 80 cent coffee in the 90’s cause we couldn’t afford it. I went shopping at second hand stores because I couldn’t afford new clothes. And my mom waitressed from 5pm at night till 4am in the morning when my dad got laid off for over a year. At that time my sister and I were both in competitive dance in Canada dancing 5-6 nights a week. No vacations. No big parties. No dinners or lattes or coffees. No bottles of wine for my mom. No drinking nights for my dad with his buddies. Just work, school and dance. we found this beneficial and my parents killed themselves to make our dreams happen. I am currently doing the same for my son. If you can find money for lattes, dinners, bottles of wine, new clothes and movies than you can certainly find money for dance. Don’t believe the arts is a good investment? Than play another sport like tennis (just as expensive), netball (just was expensive), gymnastics (just as expensive) and any other sport you can justify spending your money on. Professionals cost money. You simply get to choose what sport you actually respect enough to show up, pay and go home with out making a fuss.


  2. Not well written at all incorrect use of the word than it should be then. To do it once was a typo and forgivable but every single time, I was reading your letter and was totally with you but incorrect grammar is really annoying. Get someone to check your work before publishing then (see correct use of the word) people may have more sympathy for you. Jeez you obviously didn’t bother too much at school even my 9 year old knows better than (correct use again) that.


    1. Hi Jolee.

      Thank you so much for taking the time read my blog. I made the corrections you suggested because as you pointed out it has been a while since I was 9 years old. I would also like to thank you for helping me teach my 9 year old how not to treat another human being. I let him read your comment and he asked why you were making fun of me. I said it was because some people lack the skills to have a constructive, open minded debate. He asked if you were one of them. I asked him what he thought. He said you sounded mean.

      I forgive you for your anger. I’m just glad you’re taking the time to read my very poorly written blog;)


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