Magazine article Dance Teacher

Spotlight on Bonnie Schuetz

Magazine article Dance Teacher

Spotlight on Bonnie Schuetz

Article excerpt

This year, Bonnie Schuetz celebrates the 31st anniversary of Boni's Dance & Performing Arts Studio in The Woodlands, Texas. Students from her competition studio have gone on to perform with San Francisco Ballet, the Rockettes and other major companies. In 2009, we honored her with a DT Award for being a role model in the industry. With more than 1,500 students in two locations, she offers her expertise every summer as an ambassador at our Dance Teacher Summit. As she puts it, she's "learned the hard way what not to do," and hopes her experience will help new studio owners avoid common pitfalls.

Dance Teacher: What major business lesson did you learn the hard way?

Bonnie Schuetz: The way we deal with costume orders. We used to place the order even if the parents hadn't paid. I'd do it out of the goodness of my heart, because you don't want a student without a costume. But then the child would drop out, and it never got paid for, and we'd end up eating that cost. Now, we collect payments in October instead of January. They pay October 10, and I do a second late order in January. That's supposed to be for new people who just registered, but it also gives us a couple months to collect from people who haven't paid. They sign and initial saying if they don't pay for their costume, it will not be ordered.

DT: This year at the Summit, you led a seminar called Baby to Barre. What's the greatest challenge teachers face when transitioning students from creative dance to serious ballet work?

BS: It's figuring out how to keep 8- to 12-year-olds engaged. You don't want to lose those bread-and-butter kids. They've had fun, they've played, they had stickers, parachutes and bean bags. And now, all of a sudden, they're into technique, and it's like, "Whoa, where's my sticker? Where's my fun and games?"

DT: What do you suggest?

BS: Kids are competitive, so in tap, I do flap contests where the winner gets a Bonnie's buck-a dollar coupon to our Café Tutu. …

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