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How to create your own dance drills that make sense

In your role as a dance teacher, you always want to have the right tools ready to help your students to the next level. When you see them struggle with certain elements or whenever you introduce a new move, it helps to have a drill ready that tackles the problem at hand precisely. On top of that, you can create exercises for your own practice as well.

The general idea is to create a short set that includes the solution to the problem you have. Put the thing you want to practice in between other moves that already have the quality of what you want to reach.

If the goal is just to practice a particular move, create a short routine where you place the new step in between 2 moves that your students already can do well. In many cases, you can only do an old move and then the new one, when you immediately repeat the combination to the other side. This keeps the combo short and enables you to do more repetitions in the same amount of time.

When you want to develop a specific flow – let’s say you are teaching pretzels – you want to put them in between sweeps as they share the concept of swinging your legs around in a circular motion.

When they need to practice precision in rhythm, frame the new thing with an already known move, that shares that rhythm.

For freezes and acrobatics that require more strength and balance, create a drill that makes you do the movement on both sides but without a stop in between. There is an exception to this: when you practice a powermove that relies on keeping the circular momentum going, then practice both ways separated. But practice both. (Yes, I know – it’s not funny).

Digging Deep & Deep Work

Today is not about business, marketing, music, or dance alone. It is about a mindset thing that is beneficial in all of those.

We live in a world of distractions. That sounds like an exaggeration, but is a brutal truth that results in a decline of real productivity and creativity. We think we are experts in multitasking, but we are not. We are experts in being distracted, which leads to a culture of superficiality. We wear “being busy” like a badge of honor when it is only a sign of lacking priorities.

As an artist and entrepreneur that is in the game to stay (without burning out), we shall cultivate a habit to dig deep in what we do. At least for all the things that matter (the ones that align with your bigger picture).

Digging deep means:

  • to give ourselves the time that is needed to work things out
  • to look at a topic from different angles
  • to do additional research when we miss information instead of assuming things
  • to ask questions
  • to find the reasons behind symptoms
  • to take ideas far

Deep Work means:

  • to commit to a specific task
  • to immerse yourself in the work
  • to shut out distractions (flight-mode is a lifestyle)
  • to spend enough time with a topic to allow our conscious and subconscious mind to get involved

You will only do your best work when you reach depth. So avoid today’s culture of mediocrity and dig deep when you create your art and set up your business.

Activity Synergies for Dance Teachers

showing a sketch of synergies between dance students and readers

A while ago, I wrote about different possibilities that you can build your dance career around. During the last weeks, we explored teaching as a primary activity in your business. Check out the overview, curriculum and responsibility posts if you didn’t read them already.

To build our work as stable and secure as possible, I recommend adding in additional work fields. Below is a list of the ones that I consider exceptionally viable choices if teaching is your primary source of income. That does not mean, they are the only ones, but they synergise with teaching very well.

  1. Performing. Naturally, your students will love to watch you dance. If you have a performance within a reasonable travel distance, they will go and watch it.
  2. Producing Stage Pieces. Same reasons as above.
  3. Organising Events. Same same. If your students like your work, they will be at the events.
  4. Videography can help you in different forms.
    • You produce clips that are up for sale. Your students will most likely take a look.
    • You create videos from class choreographies. There are a lot of students out there who look forward to being in that clips and will be motivated by that.
    • If you are big online, it will work as an advertisement for your classes.
  5. Producing Music. Use your music in class. If it’s good, people will ask where to get it. Boom. Direct Selling at its finest. Double-check if your teaching and the story you tell in classes, align with your Artist Identity as a musician.
  6. Writing. As soon as you have sellable products that complement your classes, you will be able to sell them. A blog can help you build your reputation and act as your primary means of advertising online.

You experience point #6 – writing in action, right now.

There is nothing wrong with the other possibilities. Just take a look if one of those comes easy for you, as these synergies are powerful.

Creating your Artist Identity

Sketch of the Artist Identity creation process

The Artist Identity is at the core of your marketing process. Most issues in independent (means self-made) marketing come from the lack of definition and therefore the potential fans not knowing what to expect. The Artist Identity is a universal idea that is as true in the dance industry as it is in the music business or any other endeavour that requires Marketing. But what is it?

The Artist Identity is the perceived image of you, as an artist, by the audience. It is the promise to your fans what they can expect when consuming your work. It is the story you tell.

There are two fundamentally different approaches to the definition/creation process. I will call them the artist-first-approach and the market-first-approach. Both are extremes that lead to potential upcoming issues in the artist’s career, and I recommend taking the best from both worlds to create your process.

The artist-first-approach follows the idea of not creating an Artist Identity at all but by merely going with who the artist is. It would mean you are 100% real with yourself and the audience about everything and let the people who love this find you. As great as this sounds, it fails to take into consideration that every one of us has some weird sides, that might be detrimental to building a consistent story that resonates with an audience that is big enough to make a sustainable career around. It also fails when dealing with people who just have no idea of who they are or who they want to be.

The market-first-approach is what has been done by the big players in the music industry for decades. They studied trends in the market, understood what people considered cool and created artificial artist personas (just another fancy term for the Artist Identity) to match these needs. For that, it was essential to find a new artist without a developed identity and tailor his story to what sells well. That is still common practice in pop music, especially with young artists who might not be sure about who they really are themselves. This approach bears a high risk of the artist becoming unsatisfied with her playing a role instead of following her own intentions and ideas. That might backfire in the long-term.

As mentioned before, I recommend taking the best of both approaches. You start by clearly understanding who you are and what moves you. You think about what you do and the reasons behind it. We already answered a lot of these questions when thinking about Your Bigger Picture and Artisan or Originator. By making the motivations and interests of you the main inspiration for the Artist Persona, you ensure that you are motivated in the long run to stick with the identity that you created.

Step by Step to your Artist Identity

Let’s do this in a structured way. Step by step. I recommend you take notes. Here is how to create/find your Artist Identity:

  1. Who are you, and what is Your Bigger Picture?
  2. Your influences and interests?
  3. Your main discipline
  4. Your Promise
  5. What we share
  6. Refine through research

Who are you, and what is Your Bigger Picture?

You need to answer these questions to make sure you know the foundation you are building the future of your project on. They are the building stones of what you are doing. If they are not right, the rest is not going to work. When you meet issues based on the wrong foundation along the way, you can correct them, but it is much more work than getting it right in the beginning. 

So, ask yourself:

  1. Who are you and What are you doing?
  2. Why are you doing it?
  3. What is your vision of a better world, aka Your Bigger Picture?

If you are already settled in your identity and far on your way of character-development the answers can be simple but going into depth has advantages along the way because you know more details. In the example, we will go with easy answers from my perspective to make the article not unnecessarily complicated and lengthy.

My simple answer to #1 would be a dancer. While this would be the obvious one, it is not detailed enough and would not match what I really do. If I dig deeper and check with myself honestly what I do, I arrive at “telling stories with dance as my primary and writing my secondary means of communication”. Does not sound too sexy now, but it is a much better start. With the original answer (“a dancer”) I would put myself in a position to compete with guys like Les Twins and thousands of other people who are just better than me when we talk about dancing. That’s not a good position to be in when we talk about business.

I am doing this because I was drawn to experiencing and presenting stories ever since, but never by merely telling them. Long before I started to dance, I was into role-playing games (DSA and Shadowrun for my fellow players), mostly as the game master. I organised multiple LARPs, which are Live Action Role Playing games – impro theatre without an audience, just for the pleasure of the guys playing. As soon as I felt a little confident in my skills, I created my first own dance theatre piece and later short movies. During all these times I danced myself (in battles or other productions), but all the projects I launched on my own have that story-driven background.

In my bigger picture, everyone has something he or she likes to do, that adds value to the life of others. Everyone should be able to do exactly that in his life and be able to earn a living doing it.

What are your influences and interests?

The answers in the section above are of general nature. Influences and interests are, in my opinion, where our ideas and topics come from. It’s where we look for inspiration, where we take our topics from or what shaped our world views. They are specific. It’s the genres we watch/read, the music we listen to, the passions we follow, our hobbies and the ways we waste our time with. It’s also our upbringing, our education and therefore the way we think.

Knowing these points helps us stay consistent as we know the things our mind is drawn to.

I am from a working family – Mum and Dad had regular jobs to feed the family. Mom in day-care and Dad ran his own software company. I was in a technical school and graduated as a software engineer. Since school, my mind is wired to take the logical approach to every issue it is confronted with. 

I did a good amount of martial arts in my life – with Judo being the one I stayed with for the longest. I did it for 9 years and held a first dan (black belt) when I quit. I guess it’s fair to say Martial Arts were the defining thing in my teenage years. Judo is a full-contact discipline, so one gets used to rough handling.

As already teased above my other interests were in the realms of RPGs and as a software developer of course videogames (for me that cliché is true). The topics or genres I follow are mostly Science Fiction (especially Cyberpunk) and Fantasy (both with a postapocalyptic touch). I love those because they usually deal with the same topics that we must deal within our lives but disguise them as something completely different. I hope to be able to do that in my work as well.

Ok, now that we have collected this bit of information, what do we make from it? We use it to create our persona in a way that can stay consistent.

For me, it would not be wise to create my Artist Identity around being a wealthy kid, that is a fantastic choreography dancer from an art school and promote following your gut feeling. I could not keep up with one of these parts, let alone all three. Playing a role is not in the interest of us, because we are here for the long term and being real with yourself makes a consistent game much more pleasant.

Your main discipline

What is your primary way of reaching your audience? Probably by dancing, I know. But how do you approach it? Common in dance is entertainment, education and competition. Not saying these are the only three but in most cases at least one of them fits.

Entertainment is precise, I guess – you dance or create dance pieces that are there to amaze people. Education means you help people grow in some way. Competition means you are out in the arena to proof you are the best – this can be battles, choreography contests but also competitive art exhibitions. These disciplines are not mutually exclusive, but it helps to define your main.

I see myself in the education field. While I try to make my work as entertaining as possible, my main interest is to make people think about what I want to tell them. This goes well with my analytical thinking and writing. I guess there is no question that the article you read right now can be considered education as well.

Up to this point, we looked at ourselves, the work we do and what we want to represent.  We will now change our perspective and look at our potential audience.

Your Promise

With all the answers we collected until now we think about the promise – the offer we make to people what they will get from us. From there, we develop a matching lifestyle and the cultural/social aspects that go well with our message. It will also help us to define topics for visuals and promotional content in general.

This step is a creative task that you should take enough time to complete thoroughly. There is no silver bullet to this one. Everything that came before and comes after are abstract methods that are similar for everyone. This one is about taking time and condensing everything you know into a neat package.

My promise is “I will show you my art, help you to create yours and give you the knowledge to turn it into a business if you want to.”

Often the key message might not translate into a slogan. That’s not a problem. You don’t tell people but show. The following examples will work fine, as well:

 “I will blow your mind with creative concepts and movement design”.
(Would work as the promise from Phillip Chbeeb @phillipchbeeb)

“I will show you how we did it back in the days”.
(Could be from Buddha Stretch @buddhastretch)

“When you join me, you will see some sexy choreography pieces”.
(Fits Jade Chynoweth @jadebug98)

I did not ask any of these guys for their Artist Identity planning. But by looking at their presentation I found that the examples above work. Only the single sentence I made up, catches the essence of what you can expect from these artists. It’s easy to understand, and that is the point.

What we share

The next step is to define what we want to share with people. Other people call this defining the lifestyle and culture around the artist, which is valid to some extent, but I dislike calling it like that. We are not changing our lifestyle or culture. We are choosing what to show people. This step should take everything into consideration that we already know from this text and include the insights from Your Bigger Picture, Artisan or Originator and your chosen work fields (primary and secondary if you have multiple).

Evaluate your lifestyle (the real-life you live). What parts of it are relevant and exciting for someone who might take you by the word of your promise? Don’t make a mistake and think it’s all of it. Most people are not interested in your morning routine, diet or family affairs when they are there to watch excellent movement design and creative concepts like promised in the first example above. Maybe some hardcore fans want to know that later down the road, but that is a topic for another time.

Here I am, more or less talent-free but a hard-worker, trying to decide what’s worth sharing: I chose to go with my finished pieces of work, in some situations the work in progress, the methods I use to get there, things that inspire me, what I know about dancing and everything I know about the business. Things I don’t share as part of my Artist Identity are my private life, parties (except they are part of my work), my training, pets, and so on.

At the time of this writing, you can not see this reflected on my social channels as I am working on my first book release and will tackle the time-consuming tasks of implementing the Artist Identity in my social media presence after I finished the publication of the book.

The things you share are there to build trust between you and viewers, and eventually, they will turn viewers into fans and then true fans. They are what we need. You remember the theory of 1.000 true fans, don’t you? You want the people to come back because they love what you offer, and you want them to come back often. Therefore, it is essential to find the sweet spot of what you can and want to give and what they want. If you can deliver that, you are set up for success.

Check the things you put out into the world against your decision of what’s part of the image you want to share. When you teach kids as a central pillar of your identity, consider sharing great moments from your workshops instead of drunk pics from your recent parties. Because the kids are watching and teachers have responsibility. On the other hand, if being there at every party you can get is part of your lifestyle and image that you want to spread, you should share these moments.

Refine by research

Chances are there are people out there who are doing something similar or even the same you are doing. Take your time and check how they present themselves, what they share with the world and try to find the reasons for things that are not obvious. If something does not make sense, it could be that the artist you are checking just did not define his persona well or at all.

Look what is working well for others and evaluate if it makes sense to adapt it for yourself. Is there an agenda that you can adopt that empowers your vision? Can you add some quotes, that go well with the mood of your presentation? If yes, see if it aligns with your image. Don’t throw around rough quotes from mixed martial arts if you are a Yoga guy who is into zen-like mastery of self-control. Check methods from similar work fields and see if you find ideas there.

I added writing blogs because I was inspired by the work of people like Austin Kleon and Seth Godin. Both are authors but run their own blog to keep the attention of their readers alive in between book releases. I might adopt specific tactics from them but tactics are details, and we are talking strategy now.

If you see something that works and makes sense for you, just add it to your game plan. You can always change things if you need to.

Take your time with the process presented in that monster of an article. It took me longer to write it as it is the longest text on that blog. You should also invest the time and not rush the development of your Artist Identity. When you are ready, feel free to share them if you want. Or don’t. However, you feel. But you better be confident about your result.

Until next time.

PS: whenever I talk about share in this article, it means showing it to your audience. This includes appearances in real life and in any media. Just adding this, in case it is not obvious that I am talking general and not only in social media terms.

Apropos “share”: if you dig this article, do me a favour and send it to someone who may need this advice. Much appreciated.

The Responsibility of Dance Teachers

A joke with a quote from spider man

As I am travelling, today’s post will be short. We need to talk about responsibility when we teach. For most dance students, their teacher is the primary role model when it comes to dance (and sometimes life in general). Sadly, a lot of people take this too lightly.

You shape your students understanding of technique, the social aspects, the history and their approach to dance.

If we teach a flawed technique, we will hinder the progress of your students for years to come. So get the stuff you teach right. An excellent example are b-boys who teach a lousy form of six-step. This leads to bad shape in the complete footwork of the students. Same if students don’t get the groove for the style they learn from the teachers.

If we don’t teach them about the social aspects of dance, they have no chance to enjoy afterparties and social life with other dancers. Then we have more “dancers” who only live to compete.

If we don’t teach them about cyphering (which can be considered part of the social aspects), we get more people who practise at jams, instead of jamming.

If we don’t explain the history, students can not understand the context of the culture and why it is essential to preserve some aspects of the dance in its original way but stupid to copy others from a different background.

If we don’t treat our dance with the respect it deserves, how should our students know how to do it.

Dance teachers need to lead by example. Let’s do this right, and we will have a remarkable next generation of dancers.

Patrick pointed out that it is also important to be certain and confident about yourself. Having this understanding of who you are, what you do and why you do it. I fully agree. However, I think that is a state everyone should reach eventually and it is in fact more important than what you teach.

Dance Marketing 101: How to keep fans & customers happy

Dance Marketing Customer Satisfaction Overview

It is easier to sell to returning customers than to new ones. Someone who already took one of your classes, visited a show or bought one of your DVDs is much more likely to come back to you again. Given that your work did not suck, of course. But as we know it doesn’t, we can consider the statement above true unconditionally.

There are a few key things that you should have in mind to keep your business relationships healthy. These also make it easy for everyone to promote you by simply recommending you to others. Most of the points below are considered to be common sense for everyone who “made it in the dance industry.” but there are also instances where people sweat it and justify it with “we are hip hop”.

Being hip hop can never be a justification for not having your shit together.

everyone who knows how to run a dance business
  1. Deliver quality. You don’t have to be the best in what you do, but you have to deliver well. Every time. Not delivering once, will lead to not getting the job again. Also, the scene is small, and promoters talk. A bad reputation spreads like a virus.
  2. Handle the paperwork. Writing proposals and invoices are not optional. You will not be paid before you provide an invoice. Everything else is not serious business. The data that has to be on an invoice differs a little bit from country to country. I recommend that you talk to an accountant or consultant at least once to make sure you cover everything you need. I will provide an example for correct invoicing in Austria in an upcoming post.
  3. Contracts! These are not as essential as invoicing as a lot of business can be done by handshake if you know your partners. Sometimes you will have to make a contract though. Don’t be afraid of it, read it all, ask if you don’t understand the meaning of certain paragraphs. It’s not rocket science. If you need to, consult a lawyer, but that is not needed most of the time.
  4. Communicate clearly. Let people know what you need to deliver and what they get. Don’t be vague.
  5. Online Presence. Make it easy for people to find you and share info about you online. Be present on the Social Media platform that is big inside your scene and have your own website (sometimes a crew website is enough, but I recommend you get your own). The own website is so important as it is your digital property. If a Social Media platform decides to shut down for whatever reason, everything you have there is gone. That will not happen with your website. Besides that, it radiates professionalism when you can point people to your website instead of Facebook or Instagram.
  6. Be on time. Don’t be late when being on-site and don’t be late with sending invoices (or making payments when you are on the other end of the transaction). If you are late, your behaviour suggests that you don’t take the job (and therefore your customers) seriously.
  7. Have your CV and references ready (and up to date), alongside with action photos and portraits. When someone wants to hand your file to another interested guy, it should not take you days to collect everything.
  8. Be easy-going and easy to handle. This and the point about communicating clearly. Of course, you need to talk about problems if there are any. But do it tastefully and never be an asshole. Nobody wants to work with assholes.

These eight pieces of advice will help you to keep existing customers happy and make it easier to book additional jobs. All of them apply to new customers as well, of course.

I wanted to cover these first as I think, it is crucial to prioritise existing relationships, before trying to reach more people. Recruiting more fans or customers is a waste of time (and money) if you can not keep them. At least it is a very inefficient use of your time and a source of an unhealthy hustle. We don’t want to be busy acquiring one-time customers. We want to build a tribe of fans & customers who comes back to on every occasion us because they know what we got and they love it.

I made a distinction between fan and customer above. That is not necessary, but for me, it makes a difference in how I approach people. A fan is someone who adores my work (as an artist or teacher). A customer is someone who buys my time and skills for a specific job. The fan will consume stuff that I create because I decide to create it. The customer wants me to create something for him and has his own agenda besides liking my work.

What to put into your street dance curriculum?

Overview about the content of a street dance class

Today’s post will be more of a list than a real article. I will cover everything that I think one should teach in a regular dance class. So this is your “how to structure your dance lessons”, but it could also serve as “how to structure your own practise” (when you remove the theory stuff of course). If you missed last week’s “How to be a good dance teacher“, go and check it out now.

Without further ado, this is what I think you should teach in regular classes (this means in a recurring setup, not a one-time workshop):

  • The history and cultural context of the dance style.
    • Where and when did it come from?
    • Who are the guys that made it happen?
      You want your students to take classes from these guys when they have the chance to do so.
    • Where there specific circumstances that sparked the birth of the scene and the style?
    • Point your students to the documentaries about your style if there are any.
  • The moves, aka the vocabulary of the dance.
    • The techniques themselves.
    • The origin of the steps.
    • Drills.
    • How to create your own drills.
    • Methods on how to work with these moves and create variations.
  • The groove(s). I love to call it the grammar of the style but I know that some people disagree.
  • The basics of music and counting.
  • The connection of the dance to the music.
  • The concepts and ideas behind freestyling.
  • You should also teach your choreographies as people should learn to pick up choreography.
  • How social dance works.
    This helps to understand where our styles come from.
  • How cyphers work and cypher etiquette.
  • How battles work, tactics and battle etiquette.
  • Preparing the body.
    More important for breaking than other styles, but definitely recommended for all the styles.
    • Strength exercises.
    • Stamina training.
    • Balance.
    • Coordination.
    • Stretching.

Do you cover everything in your classes? If not, can you expand your curriculum to cover everything?

Did I miss anything? Let me know.

How to Start Your Freestyle with Micro-Structures

A sketch of a dancer with marked timings on specific body-parts

Out of the many possibilities to start a freestyle, I find “micro-structuring” to be one of the easiest and at the same time most versatile. The concept is straightforward and similar to last week’s “Structure through Timing and Topics“. Here is “how to freestyle with micro-structures”.

You take a short timeframe (I recommend anything between one and four bars) and define where you put your focus on any given time. If you are new to the idea of structuring your dance in general or have a hard time counting music, go with one bar for a start.

Now define your focus for every time within that bar. For example: on the 1 and 2 of the bar you do a step, and on 3 and 4, you work with an isolation movement. That only means you make moves that are based on steps for two counts and then isolation-based moves for another two counts. After a bar (or the duration you chose) you repeat the idea.

Your structure can be as easy the example above or more complicated: You could also choose a chest pop that starts a travelling movement on the 1. Glides with rotations that carry you through 2 and 3 and finish with a hard stop on the snare drum on 4. Now you accent only the head on the “and” before you come around to the chest-hit on 1.

Again, your structure can be as straightforward or as sophisticated as you wish. For beginners, I recommend making the differences between the elements very clear. Like, Steps on one part, hand styles on the next, then isolations and so on. If you are more advanced, you can do more stuff at the same time and shift only the emphasis from one element to the other. You could keep doing steps all the time and add isolations for the first half of the bar and switch to counter-movement in the second half.

Go crazy with your ideas but don’t fall into the trap to make your structure too specific, so that it becomes choreography.

Marketing for Dancers – an Introduction

Illustration of how marketing is split up

When you want to kickstart your dance career or any endeavour in the dance industry, you will need some marketing. Marketing is a term that is often misinterpreted and misunderstood. I love the simple definition from Seth Godin’s blog:

If you need to persuade someone to take action, you’re doing marketing.

Seth Godin

It means whenever we try to make people take our classes, watch our work or click one of our links; we are marketing. Easy as that. In our daily dance business work, marketing is the equivalent of customer service and customer acquisition. But we hate to call it like that.

You can split it into brand marketing and direct marketing.

Brand Marketing is the way that big brands used back in the days when all the hype and the best options you had were tv ads, billboards and ads in magazines. The concept is to expose as many people to your brand message and establish an image in their minds. When you remember who is behind the slogans “connecting people” or “just do it”, you saw brand marketing at its finest in action. For some applications, brand marketing is still the way to go. For entrepreneurs like freelance dancers, it is not. The goal is brand marketing is to reach as many people as possible. As many as possible means high investment in either cash or time. We don’t have the time, and we don’t want to spend our money on people that will not support.

Direct Marketing is an approach where you try to expose only the right people to your message and ignore everyone else. Another difference to brand marketing is that you want people to do some specific, like book a class. It’s not about your image, but your offer. We are not aiming for maximum reach, but for a good percentage between people reached to people who finally accept our offer.

Some of you may already see that I talk about how we can measure our marketing success in the last sentences of the paragraphs above. We will not dive deeper into this today, but for sure later down the road – first, some more general things about marketing.

When you talk about your work to make people come and watch or participate, that is marketing. When you do it without the intention to market, it is as well.

When you post on social media, that is marketing. When other people talk about your work or post on social media, that is marketing as well. And it is free and reaches people that you won’t reach on your own.

1.000 True Fans

The best marketing you can get is still fans talking about your work. They will praise what you do and recommend you to others. They work as your free army of marketers without you getting involved. Kevin Kelly published the idea of 1.000 True Fans in 2008. It has since then become one of the most used approaches to creating a sustainable income for artists.

The basic idea behind the 1.000 True Fans is that you don’t need to become a star with millions of followers to make a decent living. What you need are 1.000 True Fans (in other places they are called Superfans) that are into your work that they will practically consume everything you release. I am not talking about Followers or Likes. True Fans would travel 300 miles to see the new piece you created. They would join a class or workshop you give. They would also buy a DVD or pay to download a movie. They would attend the events you create, and they would purchase merchandise if you had it. They also would support crowdfunding campaigns of yours because they want to see what you make of it.

Just to support the idea with numbers: when you manage to sell 50 bucks of work to 1.000 people you made 50.000. Remove half to be safe on taxes, and you still have 25.000. Most people can make a living from that, as it is over 2k per month after tax.

So the point of our marketing is to find 1.000 people who love what we do. Those 1.000 will become your stable source of income and act as recruiters for new True Fans as well as regular customers who only consume some of your work.

How will we approach to find our True Fans?
By engaging in work that is meaningful to us and sharing it with the world. Do you remember Your Bigger Picture? Your True Fans share your vision, that is why you need to know it. If you keep working on projects that play into that vision, they will follow. And they will tell others about it.

How to find those guys?

These are the marketing tools that we can utilise, but they are only the transport vehicle of our message.

  • Direct Contact. It’s still #1 to find and create True Fans. People who see your work live and enjoy it are likely to check out what you do next.
  • Social Media is the #2 way of connecting at the moment of this writing, but not as good for bonding with your True Fans as the next.
  • #3 Your Website and Email list are often neglected since the rise of social media. The advantage of them is that they are your property. When any given social media platforms change their algorithm of presenting your content, you can not do anything about it. If they shut-down, all your contacts are gone. That is not likely to happen soon, but you never know. Social Media is also an open experience; anyone can join. For bonding purposes, it is far more effective to create an intimate and exclusive atmosphere.

Far behind those 3 are other methods like print ads, media coverage, tv shows, guerilla (or ninja) marketing ideas and everything else. There are applications where these OTHER methods can help and give your reputation a push, but they are situational. We will deal with all of the above topics in detail.

Crafting your message

No matter what vehicle we choose to transport our message, its content is what matters most. It is our promise what people can expect from us. If we can deliver on this promise, again and again, our circle will grow and eventually we will hit a thousand.

Go back to your bigger picture and think about which kind of people would share your vision. Don’t think about it as a mass of people, think about it as your one perfect fan. If you can see clearly how she ticks, what she wants from life and what she wants from you, you will know what you have to deliver.

What do you want them to do?

The second part is to find out what you want them to do, if they share your vision. In short, you want them to be part of your journey by consuming your offers. You already know what you offer from Your Dance Business Set-Up. If you missed this one, go back and read it now.

How to be a good dance teacher – an overview

An illustration of the topic

Starting now, we will take a closer look at our primary work fields of dance. I begin with teaching as it is one that applies to most of us, and I consider it to be the most reliable one.

A good teacher should bring the following:

The Curriculum

Your curriculum is the content of your classes. You decide what to teach and in which order. A lot of people copy the curriculum of their teachers without changing or questioning it. That is a bad practice. Your teacher, most likely, has another pool of knowledge and experiences as you have. Creating your curriculum and writing it down makes you think about how you want to approach teaching others. It streamlines the whole process and helps you to refine it. Having your curriculum in writing also helps you to keep track of what you did and what you will do, you can use it to promote your classes or hand it out to the students as a reminder.

For example, when teaching breaking, I do not show the six-step in the first lesson. Some of my colleagues think this is a sacrilege, as the step is considered the base of footwork. I agree that it is a crucial step, but I believe that someone who has never moved on the floor before, is not ready to do this in a way that makes sense immediately. So I teach them basic positioning on the floor, the Russian, CCs, Scrambles and Back-Shuffles before moving on to the six-step. These more manageable steps help the people to develop a feeling for floorwork and approach the six-step differently as when I would jump directly into it.

You don’t have to take this idea into your curriculum. But as I have my thoughts behind doing so, you will have your intentions why you would do things a certain way. Let these thoughts influence how you teach.

Don’t limit your curriculum to moves. Add space for explaining music, history, concepts and everything else you consider valuable when approaching dance. Show the ways dance is done – in cyphers, battles or on stage with fixed choreography. Give them the whole package.

But on the other hand: Be real! Don’t put stuff in your curriculum that you don’t understand. If your students ask for it, be honest about it and give them what you know, but point out that it’s wise to ask someone else as well for the topic.

The Toolbox

I stole the idea of the toolbox from Steven King. He writes about it in the book “On Writing – A Memoir of the Craft”. Your toolbox is your set of methods that you can use to teach what you know. The important word is “can”. You don’t have to use all the tools all the time, but you want to have them with you when you need them.

A plumber might only need one tool when coming to a clients house to fix an issue. But he does not know which device he will need. So he brings all his tools and chooses on-site.

It’s the same with teaching. On the top of your toolbox you have “show and tell”. It means you show what you want the students to learn and explain. It’s your everyday tool. If the students get what you want, you don’t need anything else. Job done. But otherwise, you will reach back into your toolbox and use some progressions to get the harder moves by learning prerequisites first and then drill them to make the guys fluent. You might throw in some practise games, include peer learning – where the students teach and correct each other – or call and response exercises. I will present all the tools that I know over time. For now, I want you to think about what methods you know and add them to your curriculum, so you don’t forget them. There might be some gems that you rarely use.

Understanding the Needs of your Students

Talking to and understanding your students is not directly teaching, but it is crucial to understand who they are and what they need. I recommend you dedicate a few minutes at the beginning of each class to talking and listening. Ask how they have been, how practice went and from time to time if there are particular topics they want to explore. When you ask how training went, you also imply that they work on the stuff outside. When some of them do, it should motivate others to do so as well.

Don’t make this all about small talk. Ask and listen to understand, not with the intention to reply. Use what you learn to improve your teaching.

On the other side: if you understand what the students need, but they don’t – tell them. It is your job to make them dance and grow. When they ask for things they don’t need, bring them back on track. Otherwise, you are in danger to become a dancing animator or a best-friend replacement. Ignore this piece of advice if that is your niche – it’s a viable one if you want to fill that role.