Cultivating Dance Studio Culture

We are all teaching dance, but what makes each studio unique?

 

The very heartbeat of a dance studio lies in its culture. It’s a way of life which permeates every aspect of the studio experience. It’s in our choices of uniform, language, values, rituals, music, outcomes and more. Culture is what differentiates one studio from another because, let’s be honest, we all have the same overarching mission of teaching dance. However, to truly cultivate a way of life and culture within our studio, the mission needs to go far deeper.

“At 100% Dance,

We see you,

We believe in you,

We are there for you every step of the way.”

This is our mission statement at 100% DANCE. When I opened my dance studio 15 years ago at the age of 19, I knew I wanted to share my love of dance, however we didn’t have the same sense of identity as a studio that we do now. Over the years, we began to infuse our very own “flavour” into our studio experience. It was in the little things: the ritual of putting our hands together in the centre to connect before a performance, allowing freedom in our dress code to recognize each student’s sense of identity, celebrating a student when they achieve a goal big or small and, remembering every student’s name, their parent’s name… even their pet’s name! All these moments build a sense of belonging, which is so important in our search to find our place in the world.

Photo – c/- Simply Ballet, Adelaide.

100% DANCE feels like a family, the kind that values mutual support. And, as a result of making decisions that align with our mission and studio culture, we found that this greatly improved our student retention. We have supported one another through thick and thin… including months of learning on Zoom during the pandemic! Even once our students graduate, we have the joy of them coming back to visit and tell us of their achievements.

Photo – c/- Sydney Dance Company Studios.

Want to consciously cultivate culture in your dance studio? Here are my top 3 tips to take your studio space from being just another dance studio to becoming a way of life:

  • Work out your mission statement. Why do you do what you do? Think deeper than perfect technique and competition wins and reminisce on what makes you get out of bed each day to go into the studio. Display your mission loud and proud wherever you can and before you make any major decisions, check that it aligns with your greater purpose.

 

  • Stand up for what you believe in. You are most like the people you surround yourself with. This includes your colleagues, students and dance parents. As a studio owner you are responsible for the energy you allow in your studio space. If you see bullying, exclusion, bad attitudes or negative behaviour in the studio you need to address it appropriately. Lead by example and make positivity, kindness and teamwork the norm at your studio and others will follow.

 

  • Create rituals. A ritual is a patterned, repetitive, and symbolic enactment of a cultural belief or value. Find special ways to bring your dance community together. Create meaningful rituals so that your dance family can join in on the wonderful sense of belonging and camaraderie it brings.

“We seldom realise, for example that our most private thoughts and emotions are not actually our own. For we think in terms of languages and images which we did not invent, but which were given to us by our society.”

~ Alan W.Watts

Create a unique and heartfelt culture which you are proud to be a part of. Everyone’s version of success will look different and it’s important to stay true to yourself by making clear choices and knowing your values. We have the power to make a positive impact in both our dance industry and the greater world around us with our everyday thoughts and actions.

 

Article by Jess Innes (pictured right).

Jess Innes is the founder and director of 100% DANCE studio in Sydney’s Eastern suburbs. 100% DANCE is home to an Under 18’s recreational program, a full time pre-professional dance program, a talent agency and entertainment company. To find out more visit www.100percentdance.com.au

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