Cost of Running a Dance Studio

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by Larinda McRaven, Jan 4, 2008.

  1. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    Larinda, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't 25 hrs/week of private lessons a pretty tough pace to sustain? You know the two instructors that I know here, and I don't think either one of is physically capable of teaching that many hours a week when you figure all the other stuff that they have to do: group classes, Friday night, training the junior instructors, getting coaching for themselves, reviewing lesson plans, keeping the business running, doing private exhibitions (corporate lunches and that kind of thing), physical fitness, workouts, etc. As long as I've known them, I don't think either of them has ever hit 25 hours of privates per week. And when Mendy tried to push herself towards that a couple of years ago, that's when she started having back problems.
  2. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    One factor determining the number of hours that can be sustained might be if they have some students who can be scheduled in the earlier in the afternoon, instead of trying to cram everything into the evening and weekend...
  3. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    That's part of the problem here. The bulk of the students work during the day. A couple of years ago, when I was working near the studio, I took lessons during lunch. That was great because we always had the studio to ourselves, and I could have whatever hour fit my schedule that day. But where I'm working now, it's too far away.
  4. etp777

    etp777 Active Member

    Yeah, I used to do the daytime lessons, sure made thigns a lot easier. At least half the time, only other people in studio dancing would be pros working together on something, so we got to control the music. And sometimes it was just me and teacher.
  5. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    25 hrs ?? thats a doddle !-- when I first worked for A/M. in LA I regularly taught 40 - 45 hrs a week PLUS 2 studio parties 1 outside function plus dance sessions-- did that for many yrs -- the rest of the staff (about 20 some ) all taught around 30 hrs plus.
    I have an aquaintance in one of the midland towns who owns a school and teaches-- are ya ready- 60 to 70 hrs a week every week. ( he,s in his sixties ) .

    The Houston F/A in the seventies got so large, they were doing 5 parties a week, and the teachers they had close to 60 didnt have any openings in many cases . These are some what of an exception, but far more than a lot realise.
    Many chains do not pay more than $ 15 per hr and many, only 10-- means you have to teach to make a decent living .
  6. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    Yes and yes. These are two seperate factors.

    If you are lucky enough to have afternoon students your income can double. The time between 11 am and 6 pm is largely neglected on a teachers schedule. Then from 6:30 to 10:30 you have four prime hours to try to fit as much income earning productivity into. IF you cannot utilize the afternoon hours, because all of your students have day jobs you are S.O.L.

    Then there is the physical factor. How many hours can a body sustain before breaking down. Mendy obviously hit her maximum. And there is not much a teacher can do about that. Also as the owner she is stressed and occupied with EveryThingElse that must be taken care of during the day. A teacher not dealing with the business end can do a little more without feeling the effects.

    Yet even the top Pro-Am Pros in our industry suffer from every malady you can think of, due to wear and tear on the body. I know of Torn Miniscus, Torn Rotator Cuffs, Big Bulgy Painful Varicose Viens, Chondra Malasia, Bunions, Sciatica, Torn Muscles, Pinched Nerves, Tennis Elbow... There are the Super Star, Super Human, Teachers such as Ben Ermis and Eddie Ares, yet even these guys suffer from untold physical problems. Surgery is nothing new to the teachers that are dancing full out at competition level with 50 lessons a week. A social boppity bop teacher can do it a bit easier, but even they will feel the effects. I average 30-40 a week. But when I consistently hit 40+ for too long a time I can feel my body start to rebel.

    So there are many factors that go into how full a schedule a teacher can carry. Many of which are not really under their control.
  7. elisedance

    elisedance New Member

    What about the other end of the spectrum? How much can a top teacher with a bevy of pro-am golden ladies (not sexist, its almost always ladies) make? we heard of the law suit for 6 million in china but I am assuming :)roll:) that that is an aberation...
  8. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Am not going to include coaching in this-- but I know of teachers who make between $1500 and 2500 a week ( less floor fees ) one individual I know-- no names-- comes in at 9 every morning mon thru fri and teaches straight thru-- no breaks ,until 4 or 5 plus the occasional sat. morning .

    there are posters here that know the person .
  9. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    Yes, the situation in China is not the norm.

    And those top pro-am teachers mostly men, with one woman, make a nice living. But these also are the ones having surgery. And they get a trade on their work, not only do they make really nice money with top teacher awards, they also get noteriety, as much if not more than the top dancing pros. So their payback for ruining their bodies is triple fold. They get to charge much more for lessons, they get top teach money, and they get an active life in an arena that they enjoy immensly. But how many of these people exist at one time? You know there was life before Ben and Shalene. And there will be life after. Their days are limited. I am sure they are smart with their money, because there will come a day when they no longer are able or enjoy working and traveling and having it all be 100 percent of their life. And there only a handful of these types of pros at any given time.
  10. and123

    and123 Well-Known Member

    One of my coaches told me that one of the reasons he isn't rolling in dough is that he takes much of the money he makes teaching and turns around and spends it on his own coaching for Professional comps.
  11. suburbaknght

    suburbaknght Well-Known Member

    Which is how he's gotten to the point where he rakes in so much money. It's a vicious cycle.

    There are many reasons to become a dance professional, whether that means a teacher, competitor, performer, or some combination thereof, but I cannot imagine anyone doing it for the money. Usually, it's for love of the dance. The only people I know who consistently and reliably make a significantly above average income through dance are the people who run the competitions, and that's a year long headache that never goes away. Again, they love it, but they do it because it lets them finance everything else they love about dance.

    I took a nearly $30k pay cut to pursue being a professional dance teacher. It was a risk - it still is - but it's one that I went into eyes wide open after doing a lot of research and cutting every expense I could. It has been worth it but, as I tell people, this is too much work for too little money to do for any reason other than love.
  12. elisedance

    elisedance New Member

    You are actually lucky to have sufficient passion for something to sacrifice for it - many, maybe most people never find that kind of passion - the same force that makes people go into child care, become missionaries, give all to a charity, struggle to do art etc.
  13. suburbaknght

    suburbaknght Well-Known Member

    Passion was the easy part. I'm lucky to have people in my life who support me, both financially and emotionally while I pursue that passion. It also means I have an obligation not to let them down.
  14. etp777

    etp777 Active Member

    That is definitely a huge part of it. You can't make any real change like that successfully unless you ahve family/loved ones supporting you. Least, know I couldn't be here without that.
  15. JoeCZilla

    JoeCZilla New Member

    I read an article in the FADS newsletter that an instructor at one of the studios did 120 teaching hours in a single week. Now our lessons are 45mins, and they count as an hour taught, but still thats insane, like 90 actual hours. I think the article said something like he worked 7 days and was teaching from 6am till late night... :eek:
  16. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member




    Not that this is impossible-- more impractical.

    The lesson quality will suffer eventually . I once taught 12 HOURS straight without a break ( I was coaching and was not told until half way thru-- my food break had been booked )

    The mental part of teaching, is the one that causes the exhaustion.
  17. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    and again alot depends upon the clientele...pro will often dance with his competitive students early in the day then take couples in the evening, giving his own body a break...he also tries to limit the number of dancers who are very fragile and unable to provide their own balance b/c those are the ones that wreck havoc on his back...but there was a time when he was booked solid 1pm-10pm five days a week and some hours on saturday...I think he is glad to trade in the hours for a break to his body.....and speaking for myself, taking 8-10 lessons a week and working out another 10...that is all I care to consider in a week and it is only done with the help of my jacuzzi, alot of bengay, and some wine
  18. wooh

    wooh Well-Known Member

    Sometimes I think us couples should get a discount, after all, we're easier on the instructors' bodies. But then I realize, there's the added marriage counselling that goes into our lessons, so it all evens out.:)
  19. elisedance

    elisedance New Member

    Speak for yourself;) We make the coach dance with both of us for every part - since we are both over 5'10" and she is about 5'5" I think she is quite relieved to get back to her 5'7" pro/am :)
  20. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    clearly you have not been on my lessons...we are regularly asked if we are married:rolleyes:

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