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  • Writer's pictureCorey Burns

Dance Teachers and the Studio

How does the dance studio business work? Who are these people teaching dance to our kids? Why do kids like to dance at Burns Dance Studio? Those are just some of the questions parents ask, directly and indirectly, when it comes to our studio and the dance industry as a whole. And they’re good questions. Getting a glimpse behind the scenes helps parents understand the quality of instruction we offer and the sort of experience our students have at BDS. What all IS involved in the business of owning and operating a dance studio?

How does a dance studio work?

I’ll start by saying that in South Carolina, there are no industry standards for dance studios.

There are business license requirements, insurance obligations and all the things that go with owning a small business, but there no required certifications or demonstrations of knowledge or experience for someone to become a dance teacher or studio owner. A dancer can end a performance career and then open up a dance studio or buy a studio from someone else. Dance studio owners are generally former dancers turned entrepreneurs who are trying to share their passion for dance while making ends meet: LITERALLY.

Larger “superstudios” exist, but I can count on one hand the number of those studios in SC where the owners have created such wealth that their lifestyle and business practices allow them to operate in an arena that the other 99% of us wish we had. Most of the wealth comes from owning the real estate assets to which the business operates, not necessarily the dance studio itself. In fact, many small business owners own storefronts and properties that house their business and rental areas connected to them rather than stand alone buildings. Good for them! There is no “cookie cutter” business model to success.

Who are these people?

If studio owners are usually former dancers turned entrepreneurs, it means they’re trying to

teach dance and run the business. That gets more and more difficult as a studio grows. Most of the time, the owners end up needing additional instructors to help teach classes so that they have time to handle business matters.

In most circumstances, your child’s dance teacher is a part time employee of a dance studio, looking to share their passion and creativity while making a little extra money. These are jobs that pay $15.00+ an hour. Rarely do we see anyone making a living from teaching weekly dance classes without some other form of participation in the studio business. This additional participation may involve administrative responsibilities, costume design, choreography, cleaning the studio or all of the above. Dance instructors working 8 hours a day solely teaching dance classes are sure to burn out within a short amount of time. I’ve not seen anyone able to sustain that in a career. However, teaching and handling other responsibilities for the owner can create a lot of value for the business and the teacher.

What Makes Burns So Special?

Burns Dance Studio exists because of the great teachers who work within a structure that supports them in the classroom and pays them fair wages for their work. Our facility, location, and longevity in business help. Aiken, SC, however, is not a bastion of dance talent, so we often hire teachers with greater levels of expertise from areas outside of Aiken. Currently, we are proud to have teachers who are home grown in our studio as well as teachers from Augusta, Columbia, and Irmo. That is why I feel comfortable saying that our kids train and perform at higher levels than other local studios, and compete at harder competitions. Based on the comments I’ve heard from those that have attended other dance studios’ recitals, it sounds like we have a different model that seems to work in our favor. Our parents have bought into this business model. Other studios are just as successful with their own model of business. When it comes to choosing a studio where you feel your child will be successful, it all just depends on the studio culture and performance level to which you want your child to rise.

As I mentioned, the dance studio business is among the lowest regulated of businesses out there. Any person can create a space to teach dance, advertise, and open up a dance studio. If parents sign their kids up, and are happy with the product, they continue to access the service. I would submit that a majority of parents don’t really know the vast differences among dance studio cultures, training, and systems only because of their lack of exposure. We all have an opinion of fast food, car maintenance, schools, and grocery stores because we access them often. Not so much with dance studios. If kids attend class and like their teacher, dance in the show and it is affordable, it’s a Win, Win, Win…for the short term. When people ask about our studio, I have used the following response:

“I would encourage you to observe a class your kid would attend or talk to an existing parent, AND watch our most advanced dancers. That way you see the potential for your child.” My goal in this statement is to share that at Burns Dance Studio, a long term investment in your child has provable results. I expect our oldest dancers to be the best and most highly skilled, if they have been in our studio over a long period of time.

Who Do You Want Teaching Your Child?

Great dancers are not always great teachers. The best teachers have a personality that

connects with kids and a way of challenging students by knowing the curriculum well enough to plan great lessons. Burns Dance Studio prides itself on having both - great teachers who are also great dancers.

What truly makes a dance studio great is the teachers who teach day to day, week to week with kids in a culture that promotes the values that parents appreciate and want instilled in their child. A dance studio that produces wonderful dancers is the goal, but success is also in producing wonderful humans. “Dance lessons that reinforce life lessons” is our mission statement. Burns Dance Studio teachers embrace that and help us come alongside parents to raise good kids. We hope our parents work with us through the ups and downs of life using dance as a part of their journey.

Ready to join us? Visit our website for information on how you can become part of the

Burns Dance Studio family!

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