You Get What You Pay For

I’d like to start by telling a story. Not too long ago, I was teaching a group class at a private club. As a favor to the members of this club, I was offering them a discounted rate so that they had the opportunity to try the class and see if they liked it. When I arrived, there were several people waiting for me, and a few others floating around the clubhouse. I kindly walked up to everyone and asked them if they were here for the class. One couple replied, “Oh no, it’s way too expensive for us.” I should mention that the class price was $36 for a four-week session, which boils down to $9 per class. They informed me that they had taken lessons before, and they were not nearly as expensive as what I was charging. They also told me that those lessons were fifteen years ago. I think what this couple didn’t realize is the idea of inflation, and that prices on everyone’s services will change as time goes on. (As a point of interest, $9 now is about $6.47 in 1998.) What I also think they didn’t realize was that professionals who offer their services invest a lot of time and money into giving great service, and that service is valuable. But really, the most surprising thing is that immediately after our conversation, they went to the bar and bought a round of drinks that cost the same amount of money it would have taken to participate in the class.

My guess is that, really, it wasn’t that the lessons were too expensive – it was that the couple wasn’t interested in the first place. As a professional offering my services, it would be more beneficial to me to hear the real reason. So let’s break down why we pay what we do for dance classes.

1 – Everybody’s time is valuable.
Imagine if your boss said to you, “You are too expensive. I want you to do the exact same job but I will only pay you half your current salary.” It’s pretty much the same thing when you say that to a business or professional that offers their services.

2 – Professionals invest their time and money.
Just as a doctor spends hundreds of thousands of dollars and many years of their life earning the degrees and skills it takes to keep people healthy, professionals who offer their services and knowledge are in the same boat. We are constanty spending money on training, materials, and continuing education, not to mention the hours of time that we put into practice being prepared.

3 – Overhead
You probably go to a nice studio for your lessons. What most people don’t realize is that it takes quite a bit of money to maintain a quality atmosphere. There are the basics, of course, like rent and utilities; there’s also a nice dance floor; providing a safe location; and many other things that go into keeping a studio running well.

4 – Every customer should be treated equally
Transparency is a big thing right now. One of the reasons that we post our prices is because every customer should be charged the same for every service. I’ve had customers approach me from time to time asking to strike a deal or pay less than our posted prices. I will usually respond, “How would you feel if I charged you more than the person standing next to you?” That usually helps them understand, but the bottom line is that we treat all customers not only equally, but also fairly.

If I could teach the world for free, I would. It is my personal belief that dance is for everyone. Unfortunately, we do have to charge for our services, but for myself and most professionals I know, it’s not about the money; it’s about the passion to teach dance.

Speeding Up Your Dance Progress

Many of us think of our primary teacher as our dance coach. At most times, this is true. However, having a secondary dance teacher take a look at your dancing can make all the difference in the world. We call these people professional dance coaches.  Usually, in a studio setting, the studio will offer you the opportunity to take a coaching session with one of these professionals, who is often from out of town, and is a champion dancer of some sort, or has been teaching for over twenty years and has judged competitions. I’ve heard from some students, “But you’re such a good teacher, why would I want to take one of these coachings?” Well, those professionals act as a sort of “third eye” – in these sessions, the coach will look at a dance or two of your choosing and give you tips on improving your quality of movement, styling, and exercises that you and your teacher can use to work on those aspects. Coaches can also provide unique and stellar choreography for any performance and/or competition that you may be participating in.

Now, you’ll be given quite a bit of information in these sessions, but you won’t be expected to remember all of it on your own. That’s why your primary teacher takes the lesson with you: they’ll take notes and keep a record of what the coach gives you, so that you can work on it in the future. This makes taking a coaching a great investment in your dancing! “But,” you may be saying to yourself, “I’ve only been dancing six months. I’m not ready for a professional coach!” The bottom line is, everyone is ready for a coach at any and every point in their dancing. Like we’ve mentioned before, your primary instructor will be there with you, taking notes. That information is specific to you and your dancing. So the next time you’re in a lesson with your instructor, ask when a coach will be coming in and offering sessions. You’ll see your dancing progress skyrocket!

measure

A wise person once said, “That which can be measured can be changed.” I’m sure there are things that all of us would like to change or improve on in our dancing, ourselves, our lives. Let’s take two examples of things you might want to work on in your dancing: fitness level and knowledge. How do we accomplish those changes or improvements? Well, in order to know where you want to go, you first have to look at where you are. Evaluating your current skill level is important in the process of being able to set a goal of where you’d like to be. In the context of our two examples, that would, for fitness, be something like keeping track of the number of steps you take or calories you burn during regular activity over a given period of time, or, for knowledge expansion, listing every dance you know, and the steps that you know for each one.

The second step is actually setting your goals. It’s important to note that when you set goals, they need to be SMART – that is, specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. (To further understand these criteria, click here) Say your fitness level is what you want to improve on in your dancing; you’ll probably want to set a goal to increase your activity. If you dance three times a week for one hour each, perhaps you would make a goal to increase that to four times a week four an hour and a half each. Or, if you know five moves in each of four different dances and want to expand your repertoire, your goal might be to increase that to six dances and six patterns each. You’ll also want to set a deadline to achieve them by, whether it be a week or a year. Committing to a deadline helps focus your efforts on completing the goal, rather than getting caught up in the day-to-day crises that invariably arise in your life.

Tracking your progress will help that as well: you could, for example, wear a heart/calorie/step monitor to give you numbers to measure for your fitness, and you could keep a running log of what steps or techniques you’re learning in which dances, and when you’re studying them. Tracking does two things: it makes you accountable to your goals, and it shows the progress you’re making. If you set a goal for one month, check up on yourself every week; for three months, once every month. Progress checks will let you know that you’re on track to achieving your goals, and will remind you of the work ahead.

Once you’ve reached your deadline, hopefully you’ve achieved your goal, or at least made significant progress in the right direction. Regardless, celebrate! You should always reward yourself for the improvements that you’re making and the work you’ve put in to get there!