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The Dance Teacher’s Toolbox

A toolbox with the headline attached

Today I will cover the arsenal and tools that I use when teaching. There are, of course, more techniques out there that you can use to teach dance, but these are the ones that I think are the most important ones. They suffice in most regular classes. Later, I will cover more sophisticated techniques, but I want to dive into the other primary work fields as well, before going so much into the depths of teaching.

Show & Tell

Show & Tell is the basic principle of teaching other people anything related to dance. The technique is self-explanatory, as it is what it sounds like. The visual information of seeing and the added information about where to look for the details and intricacy of the material can be enough for people to understand what you want them to teach. This is your bread and butter. The go-to tool in teaching.

Feedback

Corrections can be done in many ways. You can address general problems or give individual feedback. You should do both like a lot of topics will be relevant for everyone, and some students might need a unique problem addressed. Don’t fall into the habit of not giving feedback. This is one of the essential differences between someone who teaches people and someone who entertains with dance. That would be a viable business approach as well, but this time we talk all about teaching.

Drills

Give your students exercises that make them practice new material in a structured way. Drills are like dance push-ups. They are needed to build muscle memory and elevate movement quality. You might have a lot of drills from your teachers, or you can create your own.

Games

Primarily if you teach a lot of kids, the idea of drilling something might not be the best approach to sell. Package the things your students need to work on in games. B-Boy Catch, Chinese Whispers with Dance Moves and similar ideas work well.

Peer Learning

Let your students teach and correct each other. Trying to explain something to other students leads to a better understanding of the material. This can be done when experienced students teach the new ones or when a group of the same level feedbacks each other.

Progressions

Teaching material in a sequence that makes sense is first and foremost a matter of planning in your curriculum, but you can also use it to lead people to more complex moves. Go back to the basics of a movement if the students struggle with it and rebuild it from the foundation. In many cases, they did not yet master the previous motions you taught them.

Handouts and Teaching Material

Sadly, this one is not very widespread in the dance scene world. You can really support the progress of your interested students when you provide material that helps them to dive deeper into the matter. This can be additional background information, self-made video tutorials to remind them about the technique or links to tutorials from others or documentaries. Make it easy for them to go far with research if they are willing to.

Homework

Give them something to do or think about in between classes. You can’t force them to do it, but those who are willing to learn will do it and therefore progress faster.

Rhythm Exercises

Have some exercises ready that help them understand how music works. These can be taken from music theory, body percussion, or they can be created with simple dance steps.

Notes

Take notes. You, the teacher, not the students. They can do it as well, of course. Write down what you did in class, so you know what repeat next time. Write down if some students had issues with a specific topic and get back to it to help them out. Notes help to stay on track with everything, keep an overview of what you did in which in class and give you an excellent tool to evaluate the progress of the course.

These are my most used tools for teaching dance, and of course, there are many more of them. Let me know which ones you use and if there are any basic ones that I missed.

If you want to see some of those in action, I teach at breaking class at Streetdance Center Salzburg, together with my colleague Gü.

From a Different Point of View

A drawing with a dice showing different numbers from different sides

Having a strong opinion, based on facts and experience, is a valuable thing. However, so is seeing tasks or processes with the eyes of others. Especially if those others are the people that we want to reach with our work.

A change of perspective helps us to understand our customers. It helps us to design our marketing strategy better. It shows us the optimization potential in our Artist Identity. In general, trying to see with the eyes of others helps to understand business. It also helps to understand life and why our society works as it works.

So whenever you commit to a new strategy or whenever you evaluate parts of your work, try to switch perspective.

Does your offer add value to the lives of your potential customers? Could it add more value with a reasonable amount of change from your side? Is it real value or just a short status boost?

If you create postings on social media, check if they would affect you the way you want them to affect your followers. If they don’t, why would they do it with others?

If you are doing business with companies, understand what’s in for them when hiring you. Do they consider you an influencer in your scene, an expert for specific topics, both, or something else?

Make it a habit to do this in your business life. The insights will surprise you.

Thinking about the right metrics for your Online Marketing

A subscriber bubble with an unknown size of people who actually convert

Following up on our general marketing introduction, we will take a closer look at our goals, strategies, and tactics for online marketing. The starting point is to know the business you run. The set-up and income streams you have, define what makes the most sense to promote and how to measure if it works or Nah.

Work Fields and Reasonable Goals

Teachers want to have more people in their classes or the chance to price the classes higher. Another desirable point would be to teach workshops at events or studios.

Performers want their followers to join as many shows as possible or buy media that features them.

Competitors want to grow their name to receive as many invitations and potentially paid battle gigs (those are not common anymore).

All these different work fields ask for different things that we want to achieve.

The Teacher should focus on catering to an audience that is close enough to the place where he works and incentivizes them to show up in the classes. However, if the goal is to teach a lot in workshops abroad, it makes sense to focus on people that live further away as well.

The Performer usually has a broader geographic targeting as companies and crews travel internationally. But having your biggest audience in South America, when you perform in Europe does not make to much sense.

There is, again, no silver bullet. You already know a lot about your business and your Artist Identity. Use this knowledge to think about what makes sense to promote. Promote the activities that you excel at and that make you money.

What to aim for? 

Measuring what we do is an essential thing in the whole process. Because from these insights, we can decide how to improve in our marketing process or when it makes sense to stop something.

Most people and companies start with a goal that focuses on followers or views, without recognizing that this approach only makes sense in very few scenarios.

Reach is the right metric if you want people to know your brand (that’s why it is the right metric for brand marketing). It makes sense when you want to land a sponsorship or when you are performing with different companies a lot (as they might consider your followership as potential viewers). It is also the one metric that everybody understands. That is the reason why it is so prominent, even if it makes no sense most of the time. 

When you are a teacher, it is not enough that people know you. Reach alone, does nothing for you. You need people to take action and show up to your class. You measure this in the percentage of people that come from your social media channels to your classes. We call it the conversion rate. The conversion rate is a much better metric in cases when people need to do something to make you succeed.

There are many more metrics that we can look at, but in most cases, it boils down to one of the two above. 

We’ll talk about how to either approximate (which is often enough) or precisely measure those two next week.

For today ask yourself: What is it that you need? High reach or a high conversion rate?

How much to charge for your Dance Classes

A speech bubble asking how much you can charge for dance classes

Defining your prices is simple, but not easy. Today I will tell you how to answer, “What can I ask for when teaching at a studio?” or “How should I price my classes.” There are some things to take into consideration, but when you know them, the math becomes easy. Everything below is my way of deciding prices, and there are a lot of other opinions out there. I explain at the bottom why I choose the prices like that.

Prices when you teach at a studio

Most studios want to pay their teachers an hourly fee or fee per class. That is common practice in a lot of countries and not per se a problem. It becomes a problem when the payment is low, and you pay your taxes from them.

In the area where I teach a lot of studios want to pay 30 per hour. That sounds okayish at first, but when you consider the social insurance for freelancers and tax in Austria, which starts at around 36%, you net slightly below 20 per hour. That might be fine for someone who starts to teach, but it is a dumping price for anyone skilled and experienced with teaching.

The rule of thumb that I recommend using is that when you earn less than double per hour of a regular office job, don’t even consider taking it. Feel free to ignore that advice if you really want to teach or build your references. I tell you this intending to do sustainable business and teaching 20 hours a week to earn a living will burn you out sooner or later. Aim for a price that is around four times what you would make in a day job. That is between 40 and 100 per hour, depending on your qualification and experience. That leaves you with 25 to 64 per hour after tax (Best case, when your income rises, your taxes do too. Talk to an accountant to check the regulations in your country).

These are the things to have in mind when going for a price:

  • Are you building the class from scratch, or are you getting a full classroom? If there are 20 people in the class, there is no reason to do it for a minimum.
  • The prices the students pay to the studio.
  • Are you responsible for advertising, are they or do you share that task?
  • What do you need? Calculate your expenses, the time you have to earn your buck and check if it works.

But there is a better option:

Try to get a base fee and a percentage of every student over a certain threshold. This gives you a secure foundation and ramps up when you are doing a good job, and everyone wants to join your class.

Prices when you organize your own classes

A lot of people are doing their own courses. This approach has the potential to pay much higher than the other method, but you shoulder all the risk. You pay the rent for the studio, you do the advertisement, and you lose money if there are not enough students in a class. On the other hand, you keep all the money that is rolling in.

First, calculate your expenses for the class. Take the rent of the studio, add music costs (due to your local collecting societies – the AKM in Austria), add money for the fuel or public transport you need to get to the room and everything else that costs you, which is related to doing the class. Now you know how much money you need per class not to lose money. Considering the rule from above, you want at least 40 per class, after paying all the costs. How much do you need to make that 40? And more importantly, how many students do you need to make it.

For your first calculation, take the average price of the studios around you. Just to get a feeling for the situation. Then, decide if you want to be cheaper or more expensive. If your price is more affordable, you will get all the students that care about the price-tag only. That are potentially a lot of them. But you will also get all the kids, who are sent to the class by their parents – without really wanting to. If you are a better teacher than the guys at the other studies, consider being more expensive. While you will have fewer students, you will get those who really care and that makes the classes so much more enjoyable.

As a rule of thumb: don’t go far below the prices and don’t top them by more than 50%. Ignore this if you have a reputation that reaches until far beyond the place where you teach.

All clear? Reach out in the comments, per mail or on social media if not.

My reasons for these price-tags

This passage was not part of the original post. I received some questions on social media, so I want to add the reasons below.

I use the measure of “what you earn at a day job” because most people need to work another job besides teaching in the beginning. And by using this as an anchor point, we try to avoid making our financial situation worse.

I don’t want you to consider jobs that pay less than double your hourly wage because it will not be a financial upgrade of your situation. You need to get there, which costs you time and money. That is usually not refunded from the studio. You also have additional hidden costs through teaching if you, for example, buy a snack when you would eat at home otherwise.

I recommend four times your wage as a reasonable price because it means if you teach two hours a day, it pays as much like a regular day of work. So every day you can teach for two hours, you don’t need to work a 9-5. This helps you to transition to a full-time dancer slowly or keep the job and earn double.

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. It’s our responsibility to have a good understanding and the right tools to teach dance.

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.