By DSOA Studio Growth Coach, Jane Grech.
So, you’re marrying a dance studio owner.
Congratulations! May you read on with caution…
I’ve been married 15 years and a Dance Studio owner for 13. I can’t always say that it’s been easy, and it certainly hasn’t ever been dull! What I can say though, is that I stand on the shoulders of my husband. As a very fiercely independent strong feminist it almost pains me to be so honest as to write that. Here is the thing, most things are better with friends, so whether you have a husband, a wife, a partner or a really supportive friend, you might want to warn them about the often humorous, often crazy, never boring journey that lies ahead. I was too nervous to ask my husband’s input on this article – he has a black sense of humour and is at times painfully honest, but yet he continues to stand with me.
Before you say ‘I do’, here’s the low down. Don’t say you weren’t warned…
Purpose fuels passion and passion doesn’t clock off
Dance studio owners are notorious for being workaholics. We don’t always mean to be, but good ideas rarely present themselves between 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday. In addition, the very nature of our work is after school hours and on weekends, and so there is already an intrusion on generally accepted recreation time. This can be a challenge if you work ‘normal’ hours and it can result in you feeling like you have a new pen pals – leaving notes for each other on the kitchen counter. We need to be (gently) reminded to take breaks. We need to be (gently) reminded that our personal relationships need time, care and attention. It’s not that we don’t deeply love you: we don’t even realise that we are getting sucked into our work like a vacuum. Coax us out, because when we do emerge we are so grateful, and we are reminded that we truly appreciate and adore you. And Dance Studio Owners – me included – we need to get better at this – awareness is step one.
There are many, many variables when planning dates to get married, have a holiday or try for a baby
The calendar is a busy demanding beast. Here’s some basic additions: the 6 weeks prior to recital or performance – you need to put a line through them as if they don’t exist. There is no time for recreation, exercise, friends, house duties, or romance. Life is a complex mix of costumes, rehearsals, photo days and general mayhem. In fact I could go so far as to say there may also be no food or groceries purchased during this time, so I encourage you to stock pile the pantry in advance.
School holidays and vacation are also well planned depending on what’s happening at the studio. To your well-meaning suggestion of a cheeky weekend away you may hear, “We have exams then, summer workshops or winter competitions.” More lines through the calendar…. Ugh!
If you do manage to find yourself away, your vacation location may well have been heavily influenced by the fact there is a dance teacher conference in the same city a couple of days before, “so I may as well go while I am there…..” (I’m flirting with the idea of making a Dance Studio owner conference complete with a Bar for long suffering partners, but I’m too nervous they’d stage a revolt.)
For Australian dance studio owners, the ideal time to have a baby is in the long break (hands up Dance studio owners with a January baby!) which means around April, instead of a line blocking out the calendar you may instead see asterisks and love hearts. Look forward to this time. It’s important you maximise your chances (wink!) PS: Happy birthday to my first born who celebrates her birthday on January 9th! (Fist pump!)
You will find yourself learning and doing things you never thought you’d do in your life.
How exciting! Within you, are skills you never knew you had, nor perhaps even wanted? Do not fear, we will be sure to encourage you in all of these untapped areas and also happily purchase the Santa Claus costume in your size, asking you with a cheeky smile while also handing you a beer, “Are you free on December 12th? It’s the studio Christmas party….”
Stage management? Go on, give that a go as well: it’s “fun”, she says. Set building, prop making, providing a bouncer service at the stage door, lifting heavy things at the hardware store. Oh, and let me not forget building a dance studio floor….. your gifts are endless, and we thank you.
We have a special voice
Sounds like it could be sexy huh!? Spoiler alert – it’s not.
When we’ve spent a full Saturday in the studio teaching dance, we may just forget to leave our dance teacher voice at the door. You’ll know it when you hear it: it’s too loud, it’s bossy, and it’s often punctuated by a clap! Just gently remind us that we are home. We don’t mean to be this annoying, it’s simply a workplace hazard.
Life can be like a relay and the baby is the baton
That moment between you walking in the door after work and us needing to be at the studio is high pressure handover. Did you know it is possible to pass on what needs to be done to the dinner to finish it off, if the baby needs feeding, when her next lot of medicine is due, that someone might pop past with a giant pumpkin (don’t ask) and also there’s washing in the machine all within 30 seconds? Just remember to remind us to hand over the baby as we walk out the door! (also don’t ask.)
Trips to the local supermarket will now take longer
If your family live or plan to live in the same community as your studio, you’ve married a local celebrity. It is wise to allow an extra 10-15 minutes in case you bump into a studio family. We pretend to hate it and sigh “Oh! I can’t go anywhere!” but deep down we secretly like it. Your children will be less patient about these interruptions, so if you could help to keep them appearing as if they are well behaved by quietly bribing them with a lollypop during such interactions, that’d be super.
Glitter is awesome
Stop already with why glitter is not awesome.
It will be in your house, it could even be in your bed, and yes, it certainly will be in your ute after you transport Cinderella’s coach to the theatre. Oh, by the way, if you don’t have a ute or a station wagon, I foresee a purchase in your future. Your mates may well tease you, but only real men have glittery utes! This is now your life, don’t fight it.
Owning and managing a dance studio is certainly not a one person ‘job’. It’s a family affair and anyone close to us may find they get pulled into our vortex at various times through the year. It’s a unique calling, one I’ve tried to give up, but one I’ve found at least for now that I can’t live without. I can imagine it can be hard to share us with the so many others within our studio community. I am completely devoted to my family as my first priority, but after that, my heart, soul and energy do belong to my employees, parents and students. This can take a while to adapt to.
Finally . . It may be possible that I could have done all of this on my own, but thankfully I haven’t had to.
I am who I am and where I am because I have been loved, championed and lifted up too many times to count and I am truly grateful.
To you Brian, and to all dance studio owner partners, husbands, wives…. we are hopeless at stopping long enough to say…. You, like glitter, are awesome. Keep shining!
Jane Grech is the author of Dance Studio Success as well as the owner of the Jane Grech Dance Centre in Adelaide. She is also a loving wife, mother of 3 gorgeous children and our DSOA resident expert when it comes to studio culture and leadership.
Join Jane and our vibrant community inside the Dance Studio Owners Association – click here to find out about all the DSOA!