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 business..like 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!
LIVE LOVE DANCE