Dance classes may be surging in popularity, thanks to reality TV shows like So You Think You Can Dance, but with parents looking for bargains and a competitive business climate, studio owners need more ideas than ever to keep an edge. Here are some tips from studios around the country.
CAMEO/CARRABBA DANCE INC. Bothell, WA Cameodance.com Founded by Louise Fellows, director, and Marco Carrabba, ballet master, in 1993
Studios: 2 teachers: 8 students: 150
Styles: Ballet, lyrical, jazz, hip hop, tap
Secret of success: "Consistency creates longevity. Parents are slow to trust your reputation, but that image is invaluable once established."
Costume advice: Build a collection. Buy costumes throughout the year, especially when companies have sales. Then, only charge parents a low "showcase fee" and keep the costumes after the recital.
Best purchase: Internet service and a web page. When parents search for information about dance schools now, they most often gather ideas surfing the web. An attractive website shows parents the artistic tone of the studio along with scheduling and location, all conveniently on their computer screen.
DALLAS POWERHOUSE OF DANCE Dallas, Texas Dallaspowerhouse.com Founded by Shella Sattler, owner and director, 1995
Studios: 5 teachers: 25 students: 1,500
Styles: Ballet, jazz, lyrical, modern, hip hop, cheer, drill team, competition teams
Focus: There cannot be one weak discipline; specialize in everything by hiring the best teachers for each area.
Philosophy: Stay on the cutting edge. Use seminars and travel to interact with the national dance community. Stagnation is cheating the students who pay to learn the freshest techniques and styles.
Best purchase: Staff
Most popular class: Hip hop
New classes: Belly dancing, salsa, yoga, Pilates, West African
Unique feature: "We view our studio as a place of empowerment and self-esteem for the kids. With my background in psychology (Sattler has an M.A. in psychology), there is as much impromptu therapy as dance here. Really, they are equally important."
DANCE CENTER EVANSTON
Founded by Bea Rashid, director, in 1994
Studios: 4 teachers: 23 students: 800
Styles: Modern, ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, ballroom, "Just for Boys"
Focus: Ballet, modern
Philosophy: Students should learn through understanding the physiology and anatomy of dance, not just by mimicking what they see. …