Ballroom Dance > Dance teacher salary in a studio

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by Twilight_Elena, Feb 26, 2006.

  1. 3wishes

    3wishes Well-Known Member

    Welcome to DF MissKitty! My franchise instructors - if they were part time received $15 out of a $130 lesson/40 minute charge. If they were full time they received $25. IF they were allowed to compete - they had to pay for their own hotel rooms. No all. They all left - literally at the same time - sheer coincidence due to life factors.
  2. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Things to consider. having worked for numerous Franch. studios and Indies. the rates in the States are somewhat unique.

    The European market is much in line with the NZ posters prices.

    In my current location, my classes are charged at $8 per lesson and Priv. at $45 to 50.. London rates are higher due to rental costs .

    Also remember,Chain schools are independantly owned, and the hrly rates for teachers can vary depending on locale and experience .

    Many Indies pay a flat hr rate of $25/30 a lesson to teachers.
  3. tanya_the_dancer

    tanya_the_dancer Well-Known Member

    You know, life as an independent contractor is not that bad, if your contract gets renewed consistently. I've been living like this for the last 8 years. Although eventually I started taking less and less time off, because whenever I do, I think about all those billable hours I'm wasting...

    Our local studio basically rents the floor to independent teachers for a floor fee. So the split is in teacher's favor. But there is no training or anything else a studio teacher might get out of being an employee.
  4. nucat78

    nucat78 Active Member

    I am currently a contractor but working through an agency so they take their cut off the top. One thing I do like is that I have no ego or emotion invested in the job - if they can me today or I quit Monday, I'd not lose any sleep over it.

    Also, when I am off the clock, I am completely off the clock - no work email, etc. Quite different from being a corporate person when I had to monitor my vmail and email lest I "miss out" on a "vital" issue and usually dragged a stack-o-crap home with me. :rolleyes:
  5. I realize that I'm responding to something that was said a few months ago now, but reading what j'n'j said struck a nerve in me. A few weeks ago, I had a similar sentiment on a different thread:

    My perspective for my quoted previous post is from that of a newbie ballroom student, being pressured by franchise studios to take more lessons and paying big bucks to go to comps, even though I had been taking lessons for less than a month. But I suppose that this also applies to employees working at dance schools, doesn't it?

    Having done computer science in my undergrad studies, I have a few classmates that went to work for Google after graduation. Something that they all tell me is that Google employees get treated very well, even during these tough economic times. But even besides the amazing pay, benefits, and all the free employee perks (i.e. lunch, an on-call masseuse, on-call doctor, nap rooms with fresh bedsheets that you can sign up for, etc. ... all free), I think it's the the fact that not only does Google bend over backwards to treat their employees well, but also with dignity.

    Microsoft, on the other hand, while they also have plenty of free employee perks, also had a reputation in the past of overworking their employees and essentially being a "velvet sweatshop". (For those of you that are interested/nerdy enough, you can read about it on the Wikipedia article entitled "Criticism of Microsoft" under the section Labor practices. I wanted to post the link, but apparently I'm too new to D-F. :cry:)

    In a way, I almost feel like quite a few dance schools (and in particular, franchisees) are set up like this, as evidenced by the "indentured servitude" comment made in an earlier post in this thread. Sure, you might get free training, coaching, usage of floor space for practice, etc., but you get paid barely enough money to survive. (Maybe that's the real reason why all the dance instructors I know are skinny! It's not b/c they are constantly doing physical activity all day, it's because they can't afford food! :idea: I'm a genius!! :cool:) For example, my instructor is dancing all the time, whether it's because she's teaching, practicing with her pro partner, competing, etc. She's told me that she lives like this because she loves to dance, but having only taught for a couple of years, I'm pretty sure she gets paid close to diddly-squat... which might explain in part why she seems to always be wanting me to take more privates, even when I'm really busy (although the pressure to buy more lessons comes from both my instructor and the management). On some level, I feel really sad for how my instructor lives.

    And as far as her competing all the time, I was told by one of the higher level students in my school that the new instructors basically have to go to comps, if they want to get better pay, or even just to keep their jobs. Any of you dance teachers out there that work at franchises know whether or not this is true?

    Okay, that was a rreeeaallllly long post. I'm done ranting... *Goes back to lurking*
  6. Oldgeezer

    Oldgeezer New Member

    I have never taken a lesson in a franchise studio, only with independent Pros. Reading some of the posts gives me a sense of relief that I never did step into the local A Murray studio.
    We were never pressured into private lessons or comps, if however you showed any interest for comps you were pointed in the right direction within the society, other than the main pros within the school the assistants in general were unpaid medallists who were paid in kind (private tuition etc).
    Where I go to now 25 euros is the standard charge for a private lesson.
    2 separate British junior (Blackpool) latin champs (female partner) came from the first medallist school I attended plus two Senior British Latin champ (couples) Classes were then 35p a class.
  7. nucat78

    nucat78 Active Member

    Understandable, but (s)he chose that life. Ideal? Heck no. Fair? Well, maybe, depending on what value that person puts on the intangibles associated with being a dance teacher. Dunno, never had a job that I absolutely positively loved, so I'm not sure what I'd do if presented with "love and minimal pay" versus "meh and reasonable pay".

    The thing that ticks me off royally is when I see a teacher being verbally abused by a studio owner (and I've seen 2 teachers who were treated quite poorly).

  8. Josh

    Josh Active Member

    I'm sure she has training sessions at the studio, and she probably improves from them, but training like this in a group setting, even from a good coach, can only go so far. Teaching, practicing, and competing are all well and good, and they can help her improve her dancing to a limited degree, but how much of her own money and time has she spent on coaching for herself (and its many associated expenses)? Perhaps quite a bit, and I'm not trying to be snarky, just asking some questions for thought. As she spends the money and time on her own dancing (emphasizing MONEY here), she will improve, and so will her business, including number and frequency of good quality clients, as well as her pay rate.

    I have known teachers who won't spend $50 a week for a private lesson from a good coach (split $100 with a partner), whose own students spend $1000 a month to take with them.

    The question from a business standpoint is, how much money does she bring into the studio? Even in the case of a new teacher, if he or she brings in tons of money to the studio, I think a pay structure should be set up so that the teacher gets paid proportionally. Often teachers who aren't such great dancers or teachers can be very inspirational, motivational, and fun, and will wind up selling lots of lessons on those qualities alone, and I think they should be rewarded for that.

    This saddens me. I've been there, been under the pressure to sell, sell, sell, and it's just no fun. It puts the teacher in a position where she has to either do what's best for the customer or do what's best for the business, because unfortunately, the business doesn't necessarily have the best interests of the customer in mind. I sincerely believe that a business can thrive if it will simply put the interests of the customer FIRST. If the customer doesn't win, neither does the business, in the long run.

    I work as both an independent (where students pay me directly) and as a staff member (where students pay the studio, who then pays me). Only when the studio has a sale on lessons do I even mention purchasing lessons. Normally I let the student decide how many they want to buy, when they buy them, and so on. I have no idea how many lessons people have remaining. Selling blocks of lessons is done for one main reason: it prevents people from backing out of dancing because they've made a financial commitment. In other words, "if you're not enjoying dancing enough from the lessons themselves, then too bad, you've signed a contract, better keep dancing." I'm not saying studios don't want their customers to have a great dance experience, it's just that it's sometimes not their FIRST priority--their FIRST priority is to SELL LESSONS. This is just my opinion, and I'm sure others will disagree.

    Don't get me wrong--most of my students buy blocks of lessons--but they do it to save money; this is borne out by the fact that I don't mention it when it's time for them to buy more, because I'm not even aware of how many each person or couple has.. they just do it, hopefully because they enjoy their experience and progress in the journey of dance. I can't imagine another reason, given no mention or pressure to buy, that people would continue to buy. I just feel that if people enjoy their experience and progress in their dancing, they don't need to be reminded to buy, and certainly not pressured to.
  9. Joyful Dancer

    Joyful Dancer New Member

    It is for this very reason, that you will succeed in this business Josh... Kudos:cheers:
  10. Josh, thank you very much for your enlightened thoughts. It sounds like you have a lot of experience from the perspective of a dance teacher, and I really appreciate the fact that it looks like there are dance instructors on this forum that are actually willing to talk about their jobs. (See what I mean in my first response below.)

    I'm not sure, because the studio has a very strict, over-the-top non-fraternization policy. The instructors are not allowed to talk about themselves with students. Any information about the instructors that we glean is typically through slips of the tongue.

    Okay, how does that make any sense? I understand how those numbers could work if a teacher's students are very wealthy, but the vast majority of us are middle-class, working folk. Seems a little bit hypocritical to be treating all of your student who can afford to spend a lot less than $1000 a month as if they did have that kind of money to spend, when you yourself wouldn't be able or willing to spend that kind of money on your own professional development.

    Yes, I would say that she can probably bring in plenty of money to the studio. She's a very good dancer (I think she's been dancing most of her life), and I guess she can indeed be very inspirational, motivational, and fun, although I suppose a more accurate description would be young, pretty (almost painfully so), and very enthusiastic. I think most of my teacher's male students are rather infatuated with her... at least, that's what the men's wives seem to joke all the time.

    Totally agree, as evidenced from my Google and Microsoft examples.

    Yeah, especially considering that from what I've heard, my studio is one of the franchise studios out there that will refuse to refund your money if you cancel partway through your lessons, even though the contract that we sign states that they will refund our money, minus a "reasonable" cancellation fee. I guess they never tell us that the cancellation fee always appears to be whatever your remaining balance of lessons is, which means that any refund you would get always amounts to $0.

    No disagreement from me. The way I see it, shouldn't dance studios be, first and foremost, places of learning? If you teach people something in a way that makes them love doing it, they'll find a way to keep doing it. I would think that good/great teachers would be able to make something like dancing sell itself. And from what I've seen of my instructor, she is already a pretty good teacher, and has very high potential to be a great teacher.
  11. Josh

    Josh Active Member

    I've got quite a few years less experience than some others, but I have taught at a few different studios, all of which were quite different, so I've seen how studios are run from a few different angles.

    I don't like these policies, but understand why they are in place--we had a discussion about this maybe 3 months ago if I recall. The difference is, I'm not in that situation, nor would I need to work for a studio with that strict of a policy ever again. It's not like I share anything particularly personal with students anyway though.

    Even in the case of someone who has plenty of money to spend, my point was that teachers can't teach what they don't know. If they don't invest in their own dancing, how can they expect to give to others? All new teachers are in that boat of cluelessness if they're new--I sure was! But I've always made it a priority to get training, even when I was broke, because it's the only way to keep improving and actually give something worth the price of a lesson that I am being paid for.

    Quite common, and also quite a precarious situation... but she can set the tone for that, and with professionalism overcome this by being a master of her art and not just being a "pretty face" (though, given the choice, I'd rather have a pretty face than not one! :) ) (at the end of the day, some men will just be slobbering anyway, but she can certainly have some measure of control over how she is viewed).

    I suppose generally, all businesses would ideally be "places of XYZ" where XYZ is whatever service or goods they're providing, not just "how much money are we making?" I guess it just depends on perspective again... I would like to think that if I owned a dance studio, my first priority would be to bring people in the door and help people learn how to dance and enjoy themselves, and then let the money flow in, because I'm providing a service to the client that's greater than what they're paying me. Then again, it's always easy to think that when it's not reality--perhaps looking at the dollars and cents from the inside would shift my priorities, but I sure hope not. Either way, I won't be owning a studio for at least 15 years, if ever, so it's not something I'll give much energy to at the moment.

    There are some studio owners here on DF I think, so perhaps they could weigh in on the subject!
  12. Dream314

    Dream314 New Member

    If everyone is looking for decent, somewhat stable dance teaching position..why not be indepen teacher and cater to non-ballroom studios. I do that on the side,...and I get paid $25 an hour to teach group ballroom classes in different non-ballroom dance studios.
  13. Ray Sison

    Ray Sison New Member

    Dream, good for you! :)
  14. nucat78

    nucat78 Active Member

    Ummm, doesn't that blow your amateur status for NDCA?

    Aside from that, is that $25 net or $25 gross?
  15. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    No, only for competing as a student in pro-am.
  16. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    Because people cannot survive indefinitely on that. Take off your floor fee, if you have one, gas for travel, set up time... and the fact that you only do it a few times a weeks... And right now it seems like a great deal because to you it is for extra pocket money.

    Now consider trying to live on that... with no way to get new students. And still trying to pay for the provate lessons you take now so that you can get better and hopefully attract more students.

    When i started, I worked for far far less than that... but I was trained every day how to dance and teach the syllabus. I only had to go to one place to teach (rather than run from studio and student over to that studio for another student) I had access to outside coaching that I did not have to pay to fly in. I was given sick days and vacation days.

    When your life depends on it you look for a better and more stable way than to teach and only make $200 gross and then skip the taxes.
  17. dancerman

    dancerman Active Member

    I would imagine it depends what country you are in. To compare the pay to the US one would have to compare minimum wage there vs here, would you not?
    Never having been a teacher (and never planning on being good enough to), I can't speak on pay scale except to say that most customers I deal with have eventually elected to go independent and have said the franchises are the worst payers by a long shot.
  18. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    They may have lower wages than being independent but the trade-off for a new pro is invaluable.

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