Keep The Passion For Dance Alive As You Grow Your Business

IMAGE banner IMAGE is an online membership resource for owners and directors worldwide to start, grow, or take their studio business to the next level.

For nearly forty years Kathy Blake has found positive and effective ways to overcome obstacles and challenges at her performing arts studio while expanding the vibrant dance community in her local area, as well as nationally. With over 900 students, Kathy Blake Studios exemplifies the highest standards in the industry, thriving in a suburban area of southern New Hampshire.

IMAGE Kathy Blake and Suzanne Blake Gerety in the studio IMAGE

Suzanne Blake Gerety and Kathy Blake

Kathy’s daughter, Suzanne Blake Gerety, witnessed the ups and downs of dance studio ownership her entire life. In 2006, she realized that if she were to lose her mom, suddenly the wealth of knowledge and information on how Kathy maintained consistent growth in the face of changing trends, personal losses, studio splits, and financial hardships would be lost.

So together they created as a resource for new and experienced studio owners all over the world to access the latest information to help save time, become more profitable, and grow their businesses both financially and artistically.

Dance Advantage has been happy to present helpful tips and insight in a regular column by Suzanne Gerety. We are also very proud to be part of the community and of our long-standing affiliate relationship. We’ve been referring many happy customers to this smart, useful, and business-enhancing resource for nearly 4 years.

The Giveaway would like to give away a One-Year Membership to TWO Dance Advantage readers.

The quickest route to long-lasting success as a dance studio owner isn’t about figuring it out yourself. This unique learning environment is a place where each member can ask for advice and feedback and get it from other studio owners experiencing tangible success in their own businesses and who are willing to share how they’re doing it.

As a member of you’ll get to know Kathy and Suzanne personally. They are real, down to earth, people who deal with all of the non-glamorous side of studio ownership, just like you. Yet, they still hold on to their dreams. is here to support you because they know it’s never worth giving up on your dream.

They’ll be your cheerleaders and your greatest resource.

The retail value of a one-year membership is $187. Current members may still enter to win — your account will be credited.

The giveaway is open worldwide to those 18 and up and closes at Midnight EST on Sunday, February 19.

How To Enter

This giveaway is closed but learn how to become a member of this fabulous resource for studio administrators at

[Read more…]

Four Ways to Make an Impact with Low Cost Marketing

Stand out and shine in the new year with low cost marketing at your dance studio.

Recently I hosted a free teleseminar event, “Beyond Bring a Friend: How to Get More Students with Effective Low Cost Marketing at Your Dance Studio.” If you missed it, not to worry you can sign up to get the free replay of the event here.

Consistently, studio owners who listened emailed and said that it helped them think about their low cost marketing in a new way. That’s terrific news! We ARE in a new economy, it’s time to break the mold of the old marketing mix.

John Jantsch’s 4 C’s of marketing from the Referral Engine are the jumping off point for this post. I’ve mapped them onto the dance studio business.  Feel free to use any or all of it, and let me know how it goes!

[image] A drop creates ripples in the water. [image]Make your marketing relevant. Give it context.

You might think that your biggest competition is the dance studio down the street.

Your biggest competition is really the gymnastics, karate, music, ice skating, music and art studios that are all vying for the attention of your target market. Not to mention all the sports!

You are competing with the demands of other activities available for kids and adults today.

Rather than worrying about what time Sally’s studio down the street offers her tap and ballet combo class for four year olds, instead ask yourself:

  • Why dance? Go further than your sprung floor and air conditioned studio. Why should people choose dance at your studio?
  • How do you over deliver and wow your students and parents? What do you do to put people first? They are the ones talking about your studio at the pool, at the playground, and at the grocery store.
  • Why would a parent want their child to experience dance education with your faculty and staff? You invested in well trained instructors, they stay current. Now, what difference does that make? Let your potential students know!
Make your marketing relevant for dancers at any age or ability.

Make your marketing useful. Provide good content.

People need more than a brochure or a visit to your website to make a decision.

Potential students are at various stages of the decision making process when it comes to dance. Some are just thinking about a class, some know exactly what day they have free, others have a specific style in mind.

In today’s economy, it helps to go beyond the old model of a static website or one-sided brochure.

  • People want interaction and information. Assess your marketing strategy to make sure you’re educating, answering questions and sharing great information at each stage in the decision process along the way.
  • People want details. Write informative class descriptions, give details on what happens during a class, share photos, offer a FAQ, post up to date schedules, clearly explain your policies and procedures.

Your content needn’t always be created by you.

There are so many great dance blogs to incorporate into your good content strategy! You can easily share posts with your current and potential students on social media, in newsletters, by email and in your waiting rooms. Just remember that according to copyright and common courtesy, it is proper to share excerpts with a link back to the original content. Someone took the time to create and provide that content, it’s only right that they receive full credit!

Position your expertise and share good content.

Make your marketing meaningful. Build your community.

WHERE do your current and potential students spend their time when they are not dancing?

People have the freedom and choice to come and go to whatever dance studio they prefer. Now is the time and opportunity to develop a strong sense of community, relatedness and interest around your dance studio business and brand.

  • What makes being a part of what you’re creating special? Using social media and other low cost marketing methods, you can link to your local theater company, the small businesses of parents of your dancers, fundraising causes, concerts, and special events in your community.
  • Go beyond your four walls. Acknowledge your dancers various interests and cross promote – it’s a win-win for everyone involved and it makes your marketing meaningful.
  • What moments and memories do you create for your dancers? You can answer this through the rave reviews your current students share with you. Get at the emotions you invoke with your students. People want experiences that are positive and fun.
See yourself as the thread woven into your community.

Make your marketing memorable. Inspire a connection.

Sure, you can spend money on saturation mailings, door hangers, flyering cars, sending postcards, or buying a billboard ad. That might feel like the solution to getting more students.

I don’t know about you, but I sort my mail over the trash. On a good day, there might be two pieces of mail or papers that I receive that are worth saving or taking action on.

Is your marketing message memorable?

  • Does it inspire a connection?
  • Is there a call to action? Give people a reason to pick up the phone, send an email, visit your website, like you on Facebook, or come to your open house. Make it fun! It doesn’t always have to be a discount or free class, you can get creative with your marketing.
Give people a reason to make a connection.

Students will always be coming and going. Now is your opportunity to grow your dance studio business using relevant, useful, meaningful, and memorable marketing methods. You can make an impact with low cost marketing.


If the above makes sense to you but you are still uncertain how to proceed…

Or, if you have been applying the 4Cs but want specific ways to get more students now, we at just launched a guide to low-cost marketing to fill your classes all year long.

It’s an instant download, you can refer to it right from your computer or print it and take notes.

The information in this 75-page e-book is based on real world, applicable experience that you can take advantage of to make your dance studio business as successful as possible.

You can win a copy!

All you need to do is add your comment below. We want to know:

What low cost marketing strategy have you found to be most effective at your dance studio?

You have only until Wednesday (12/15) at midnight (EST) to give us your answer. A winner will be chosen randomly from commenters and contacted via e-mail on Friday.

Click here to learn more about the Get More Students Now! Guide or grab yours today.

Dance Advantage is proud to be a affiliate, earning commissions from product sales.

Giving Thanks Giveaway: DanceStudioOwner.Com

This giveaway is now closed.

Our next giveaway is from

Keep your passion for dance alive as you grow your business...guaranteed!

You may already know that I am a member and affiliate of, though I am not a studio owner myself. DSO co-founder, Suzanne Gerety and I found each other on Twitter two-and-a-half years ago and I immediately got excited about the resource she and her mom, Kathy Blake, were (at the time) just beginning.

I continue to be excited about as a resource to help you start, grow or take your dance studio business to the next level. Suzanne and Kathy consistently lay open the processes they’ve used to grow and sustain their dance studio business over the last 25 years. That’s why I’m an affiliate and why I am thrilled every month to present Suzanne’s insights on Dance Advantage.

The story of how was born can be found at the website, but here’s what Suzanne has to say about why the site and service exists: “We created this resource for dance studio owners so that you wouldn’t make costly mistakes or lose more time and energy on the areas of business that drain you and burn you out.”

Here’s what you can win:
Suzanne and Kathy want to give away a One-Year Membership to (valued at $187) to ONE lucky Dance Advantage reader.

Seasonal Coloring Pages for DanceIf you are already a member, this will be credited toward your account. If you are new to, this is going to help you save time, build your business, and learn ways to thrive during the ups and downs of studio ownership. It’s like having a support system at your fingertips 24/7/365.

In addition, to a first and second runner-up they’d like to offer their Printable Dance Coloring Pages – The Seasonal Collection (retail $19.97).

This CD was recently featured in the ‘Holiday Cheer’ issue of Dance Retailer News for gift ideas for the holidays. The set of ten coloring pages include: Happy Halloween, Thanksgiving, Jingle Bells, Winter Wonderland, Nutcracker Ballet, Happy Valentine’s Day, Easter and more. Each page was custom designed by an artist, studio owner, and dance teacher. They focus on technique, have adorable poems for learning, and encourage creativity beyond dance class.

To win, here’s how to enter:

Leave a comment at this post, answering the following question: What is the biggest problem you want to solve at your dance studio?

This giveaway is open worldwide and lasts until Saturday, November 13.

I hope you win!

Summing Up The Summit

Three days goes by really fast.

Picture of a tornado and lightning strikeSpend three days at a conference for dance teachers (like I did in early August at the Dance Teacher Summit in NYC) and you just might feel as though a tornado spat you out on the doorstep upon your return home. In fact, I can sympathize with poor Dorothy. Having been whisked off to a colorful place filled with compelling characters, I woke up a little woozy, too… and you were there, and you were there, and you… And also like Dorothy, I found myself back at home with very little physical evidence that I had actually been there! I am afraid I am as neglectful at photography as Miss Gale is at landing houses. C’est la vie!

So, instead of actual snapshots I’m sharing some of the thoughts and impressions I picked up along the yellow brick road (I promise that’s the last Wizard of Oz reference). I hope you’ll use, think about, or act upon these little nuggets from the Dance Teacher Summit. I had a great time collecting them for you.

Please note that unless quotations are used, I am paraphrasing as nearly as I can the awesome info shared by these esteemed guest artists.

Dance Teacher Summit -- NYCBreak the mold

When competing students, consider the body of work which you are presenting. Prepare the students well and diversify. Not everyone will fit that “contemporary, acoustic” mold. You have students in the back row on those numbers waiting to soar with their strengths in other realms. Mandy Moore had a ton of great things like this to say in her open conversation with attendees about competition mistakes.

Preparing for partnering

When you are getting ready for partnering (or helping to prepare students for partnering) both the guys and girls need to have a strong core. Pilates is great for that. In addition, according to Keith Roberts (Come Fly With Me, ABT, Twyla Tharp Dance), what guys need more than a ton of push-ups, is to build leg strength. Girls need to get strong too and a great exercise for women, according to Laurie Kanyok (Come Fly With Me, Movin Out, Fosse): practice smoothly lifting yourself up and out of a swimming pool with your arms. Summer’s not yet over so give that one a try!

Close-up of a spinning toy topTop secret

There is a recipe for good pirouettes and an essential ingredient is an effective downward plié and push into the floor. Think of an old-fashioned top and where its power to spin comes from. The button spirals down into the mechanism, and when it rises it spins beautifully with ease on that little point. Thanks to Finis Jhung for that theft-worthy image!

Teacher rewards

The love and fire and soul you give away today as a teacher will return to you. Your students will give back to you and lift you up and heal your spirit, perhaps when you need it most. Frank Hatchett is an inspirational example and after a fun, classic, jazz class, his beautiful message sent us out the door.

Let it flow

Kathy Blake offered many quotable thoughts in her session on Studio Ethics. You don’t have to own a studio to be inspired by this: Being a positive problem solver, one with high levels of integrity and maturity, is not inherent or natural to most people. It is a choice you make every day to “be bigger than the problem you are solving.” As a leader you must help people adhere to your policies and procedures because what you put up with, you give permission to. Know that it is okay and the natural course of things to let people (including students) flow into your life, but also out of your life and studio.

Beverly Spell leading teachers in a circle with ribbon rings at DTS 2010Purposeful props

Just about anything is a prop when you are working with little ones and you should keep that in mind when you visit dollar stores and shops. In addition to sparking imaginations, they are great for helping young dancers work together and learn to do basic partner work and formations. Have children share and pass a prop to learn how to take turns and promenade (walk) around a partner. Or, use floor mats or other markers to aim and stop at a point in the space when crossing the floor. I loved the Ribbon Rings used by Beverly Spell in her Props & Across The Floor Session. Purchase these and other great materials at Leap ‘N Learn. And check out Maria Hanley’s homemade ribbon rings (with directions) at Maria’s Movers.

Counting and rhythm

To help your students develop understanding of rhythm and timing, address their developmental needs. When working with 3 to 5 year-olds, use pictures. Relate the step or movement to something that they can visually picture in their mind. Kids this age can’t associate number counts to beats of the music, associate numbers with the amount of times you do a step instead.  For ages 5 to 7, use pictures in conjunction with sounds relative to their movement (like zip, boom, tat).  Kids can come up with fun sounds too.  Start to associate numbers with the beat of the music and introduce some musical theory. For ages 8 and up, along with pictures and sounds, use counts.  By now students should be able to associate number counts with an 8-count of music and they are capable of learning where to start count 1 in a phrase of music. Tricia Gomez of HYPE Studios and Dance – In a Box, packed a ton of great teaching tips into her Hip-Hop for All Ages seminar.

Give studio parents some face time

Your studio Facebook page (that’s the one with the big ‘Like’ button) provides a great platform for your school to become “the thread woven throughout your community.” Use it to share links and news from the broader arts and dance world and to connect with businesses, organizations, and events in your local community. Better still, says Suzanne Blake Gerety in her session on Social Media, spread goodwill (and probably get a little returned to you) by making it a point to connect with the local businesses and pages for dance parents at your studio.

Return to one’s roots

Dance is for everyone. We are deeply connected to movement as a means of expressing the human experience. Reconnecting to that basic need to dance is just joyous. It isn’t necessarily a lesson I had forgotten but I know few teachers who communicate our shared history in dance as well or as enthusiastically as Thom Cobb. It’s been years since I took his “Vintage Jazz” at Slippery Rock University as a student and dance major, and I was glad to be reminded how much I like “killin’ time” with TC. Waaw!

Avoid the scribble and scramble

Carry business cards. Okay, that one is just my own advice for any teacher that finds themselves at a conference or out in public for that matter. Hey, it doesn’t happen often; take advantage when it does! 😉 It was so fun seeing excited teachers meet and share resources and advice with someone new at the Summit. Inevitably I watched many do the scribble and scramble as they tried to quickly exchange information before the next session, while others easily exchanged cards.

Be generous with who you are

Photo of Nichelle and Twitter pals at the Dance Teacher SummitAt the Dance Teacher Summit I had the great fortune to meet a few of you, along with a number of brand new names and faces. In addition, I met in person some friends I first encountered via Twitter and only previously interacted with online.

With many of these friends I have shared tweets, emails, and phone calls over the last year or more. Among the group are Suzanne Blake Gerety of, Maria Hanley of Maria’s Movers (see Maria’s Summit wrap-up here), Leslea Clark of Uptown Dance (see Leslea’s Summit reflections here), Chad Michael Lawson of Real Deal Dance Marketing, José Ramirez of Backdrops Beautiful (see Jose’s post on our little Tweetup here), and Marc Kirschner of TenduTV.

Following the summit Suzanne wrote something about her experience that I’d like to share with you.

“When you’re being generous with who you are, what you stand for, what you’re passionate about, and truly being social…the ripple effect of a tweet can’t be measured.”

Whether it is online or at a conference like the Dance Teacher Summit, I’ve found it immeasurably important for teachers, dancers, and artists to find opportunities to encounter new ideas and validate ‘old’ ones by spending time with others in their field. The Dance Teacher Summit was a success because so many wonderful professionals, both well-known and not, shared their generosity and passion for dance with peers and colleagues. I encourage you to be generous with who you are as often as you can manage it. It is really the only way to make great connections online and off.

I hope to see you next year at Dance Teacher Summit 2011!

Unite … Share … Inspire

2010 Dance Teacher Summit Gala Clips

Watch this video on YouTube.

Some clips from the DTS 2010 Gala, courtesy Leslea of Uptown Dance NJ

Special thanks to all the Dance Teacher Summit organizers and staff for a great time!