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How to handle "end of year" talk with Studio Owner
By aparent Comments: 20, member since Sat Aug 23, 2014
On Sun May 14, 2017 02:19 PM

I need help with how to communicate to the Studio Owner about my views on how this year has gone.

My D is at a competition studio for the first and last time this year, she is a Senior in HS. We always only planned to be there for one year because my daughter will be attending college out of town next year. Thank God!

Before she joined the studio, I had talked with the SO about several concerns, ranging from areas where my daughter needed/wanted to improve, styles of dances that her age group usually performed, rehearsal days and times and the types of costumes chosen. I did not get anything in writing and unfortunately, we have had many issues of conflict. They seem to get around everything by saying:

1)"Oh this is the first year that we have had so many schedule changes" after they have changed the weekday and weekend schedules many times to accommodate the Studio Owner (this is a big problem for us as we drive 45 minutes to and from the studio)- once we were on our way and got a text that WE WERE LATE BECAUSE THEY CHANGED THE START TIME TO ONE HOUR EARLIER BUT DIDN'T TELL US!. No apology, they acted like it was our fault. There have been so many MANDATORY weekend rehearsals that have been scheduled at the last minute.

2) The SO has texted us on a day that we are not supposed to be at the studio and required us to show up that evening since she had a private which cancelled and thus had extra time. I already had plans for that night but she threatened to cancel the dance if we didn't show up. And the dance was the only close to non-gloomy dance, sort of a sultry Senior teen jazz. They have not worked on this dance for very long, the SO kept putting off the dance, they have competed 4 times already without this jazz. There are 2 competitions and recital left, my daughter wants to dance this dance, so I cancelled my plans and we drove 45 minutes to the studio for a 2 hour rehearsal then 45 minutes back home on a night where we do not usually go there.

3)'Oh, this is the first year that the Senior group won't dance a fun jazz or hip hop" (so far, ALL of the contest dances are gloomy moderns, with songs about death, kidnapping and ghosts) and they hooked us in the beginning by saying that they would use a song that my daughter really likes for a heels jazz, but now they aren't using it.

4)'I'm not changing the costume" when they ordered skimpy briefs for a very active prop dance without showing us ahead of time after I was told that they ALWAYS had bottoms with a band to prevent riding up. I even offered to PAY FOR shorts of the same color for EVERYONE and she wouldn't change. We ordered another pair of the largest size briefs and even though my daughter uses butt glue, these briefs still show more of her front groin area than I'd like to see on stage and they are well below her belly button. I just don't get it. NONE of the girls or parents like that costume and it doesn't add anything to the dance. The SO just brushes me off when I tell her my concerns.

5)The SO is under a lot of stress outside of the studio and it bleeds over. I overheard her using the F word in a rehearsal. I did not enter the room, but if I had heard it again that day we would have left the studio forever right at that time. I emailed the SO afterward and asked that she not use that language in front of or directed at a group of girls that includes my daughter. Yes, teenagers have heard that word, yes, they have used that word, but they are still children. A SO in a position of power and authority over children should not swear at or around them.

6) The SO will trash another child or family when talking with us during my daughter's solo practice and it makes me wonder what she is saying about us when we are not around. I try to change the subject as quickly as possible but I may have to actually ask her not to do that.

7) While my daughter enjoys the classes that she takes, I don't think that we are getting what we pay for. The classes start 10 to 15 minutes late, the SO's toddler daughter is often at the studio and will walk into any class which slows up the class and quite often a teenage student "substitutes" for the SO for part or all of a class. That student is a fantastic dancer, but she isn't a teacher and she doesn't plan to be a dance teacher either so this is just for SO's benefit. This happens when the SO is talking with a parent, ordering costumes, registering for competitions or when the toddler needs her mom or when the toddler's dad comes to the studio to pick up their child, just to name a few "reasons". The studio is only open from 5 pm to 10 pm. I don't understand why ordering costumes and registering for contests can't be done outside of studio hours. Also, the SO keeps her phone in her hand during classes and rehearsals and is either texting or doing something on her phone for most of the time.

8)My daughter has improved some at this studio, she admires the SO because on a good day, she is a lot of fun and she is a genius choreographer and my daughter loves dancing with a great group of girls, but she still has some of the old bad habits that I rarely hear the SO correcting her for.

9) My daughter had conflicts for a couple of the contests and a former student who quit due to financial reasons/HS schedule, substituted for her. This was set up at the beginning of the school year because those conflicts were well known in advance and the SO wanted my daughter in the studio. But the SO changed the choreography to fit the other girl ( who has a lot more acro experience) and tried to cut my daughter out of a dance for all for the remaining contests. That dance was a crazy hard prop dance, but it is my daughter's favorite dance. And we paid for all of the contest fees and the costume fee and prop fees. I just asked her to switch back to the choreography that my daughter could do. She wasn't happy, but she did that. If she had cut my daughter out of that prop dance, I would have wanted to be reimbursed for all fees and I'm not sure that we would have stayed at the studio as the other dances are not that much fun.

10) Today is Mother's Day. Yesterday, we spent 6 hours at the studio for the SO to take recital photos. One of the Sr. girls forgot a costume so that photo will have to be taken during rehearsal today. The rehearsal for today was supposed to start at 3:30 pm ending at 8:30 with us arriving at 2:00 or 2:30 for my daughter's last afternoon solo practice. (Usually her solo practice starts at 9:00 pm, after a long day at school plus dance classes. My daughter is tired at that time and rarely gets more than a couple of run throughs in one of those rehearsals, and the SO usually talks about other things more than she talks to my daughter about her solo.)

I had texted the SO several times this morning asking if we were starting at 2 or 2;30. Just before noon I was told that rehearsal would start at 4:30 and that there would be no solo practice for my daughter because the SO husband had "planned Mother's Day surprises" for her. I feel that this is very irresponsible. Our Christmas break plans were trashed because the SO changed the schedule to fit her family plans at the last minute.

This was my daughter's last Mother's Day at home. Next year she will be in college. She wanted to sleep late today and I was fine with that because she spent all day yesterday and would spend all afternoon and evening at the studio today. I wanted her to be rested and fresh for the last afternoon solo practice. Letting me know at 11:30 this morning that rehearsal starts at 4:30 doesn't enhance my Mother's Day as my husband went out of town early this morning since our daughter wanted to sleep late and we would be at the studio for the afternoon and evening.

We never planned to do this competition studio stuff for more than one year, but I wouldn't do this again anyway. It is a lot of money/time/stress. We pay nearly $1,000 a month without solo fees. My daughter gets enough out of this experience that she didn't wait to bail when they first started changing the schedule, etc. so that is the only reason why I am still doing this.

The SO has asked for everyone to share their thoughts about the year at the studio, so I plan to sit down with the director after it is all over and share my thoughts then. She has mentioned that students have quit and "she doesn't know why", so even though we went into this with the plan of only one year, I want her to know why we wouldn't do this next year anyway.

How do all of you suggest that I communicate the above issues with the SO?

2 Replies to How to handle "end of year" talk with Studio Owner

re: How to handle "end of year" talk with Studio Owner
By aparent Comments: 20, member since Sat Aug 23, 2014
On Sun May 14, 2017 04:48 PM
UPDATE:
We arrived at the studio before rehearsal today. The SO was 12 minutes late. The first group to rehearse was only scheduled for 45 minutes.

So it looks like rehearsals will run late today.

The SO lives 7 minutes from her studio. She is tough on students/parents if they are late or miss classes because of school activities or home work and says that "Homework is not an excuse for missing class, you should plan ahead!" So I am annoyed at her being late once again.

Aarrgghhh.
re: How to handle "end of year" talk with Studio Owner
By Sumayah Comments: 6875, member since Wed Nov 12, 2008
On Mon May 15, 2017 03:17 PM
Expect her to be defensive over any and all issues you bring up. I guarantee she'll have a reason or excuse or justification for everything.

So, with that in mind, you need to stay away from you did wrong, you did this wrong, you did this wrong and put it in terms where she'll be more inclined to listen.

1)"Oh this is the first year that we have had so many schedule changes" after they have changed the weekday and weekend schedules many times to accommodate the Studio Owner (this is a big problem for us as we drive 45 minutes to and from the studio)- once we were on our way and got a text that WE WERE LATE BECAUSE THEY CHANGED THE START TIME TO ONE HOUR EARLIER BUT DIDN'T TELL US!. No apology, they acted like it was our fault. There have been so many MANDATORY weekend rehearsals that have been scheduled at the last minute.

Hello SO, one thing my family had difficulty with this past year were the schedule and rehearsal changes. I would have liked more communication and advance notice of changes to prepare adequately. My daughter felt like she was letting the team down the times she showed up late due to changes.

2) The SO has texted us on a day that we are not supposed to be at the studio and required us to show up that evening since she had a private which cancelled and thus had extra time. I already had plans for that night but she threatened to cancel the dance if we didn't show up. And the dance was the only close to non-gloomy dance, sort of a sultry Senior teen jazz. They have not worked on this dance for very long, the SO kept putting off the dance, they have competed 4 times already without this jazz. There are 2 competitions and recital left, my daughter wants to dance this dance, so I cancelled my plans and we drove 45 minutes to the studio for a 2 hour rehearsal then 45 minutes back home on a night where we do not usually go there.

On the same page, I understand occasionally circumstances allowed for extra rehearsals, but because they were last minute, it made scheduling and planning difficult for the whole family. I know these were few events, but when added to other schedule changes, I felt it was hard to ensure my daughter could be at rehearsals.

3)'Oh, this is the first year that the Senior group won't dance a fun jazz or hip hop" (so far, ALL of the contest dances are gloomy moderns, with songs about death, kidnapping and ghosts) and they hooked us in the beginning by saying that they would use a song that my daughter really likes for a heels jazz, but now they aren't using it.

My daughter had looked forward to a variety of music and styles to dance to and she missed having that diversity in her repertoire.

4)'I'm not changing the costume" when they ordered skimpy briefs for a very active prop dance without showing us ahead of time after I was told that they ALWAYS had bottoms with a band to prevent riding up. I even offered to PAY FOR shorts of the same color for EVERYONE and she wouldn't change. We ordered another pair of the largest size briefs and even though my daughter uses butt glue, these briefs still show more of her front groin area than I'd like to see on stage and they are well below her belly button. I just don't get it. NONE of the girls or parents like that costume and it doesn't add anything to the dance. The SO just brushes me off when I tell her my concerns.

I understand that as Artistic Director, you have a specific vision and last say on costuming, however I felt upset as my daughter expressed body image concern in some of the choices. I realize that teens see themselves through different eyes and don't see themselves as we do, however, the confidence issues she experienced were stressful to her.

5)The SO is under a lot of stress outside of the studio and it bleeds over. I overheard her using the F word in a rehearsal. I did not enter the room, but if I had heard it again that day we would have left the studio forever right at that time. I emailed the SO afterward and asked that she not use that language in front of or directed at a group of girls that includes my daughter. Yes, teenagers have heard that word, yes, they have used that word, but they are still children. A SO in a position of power and authority over children should not swear at or around them.

In regards to the time I heard curse words from you and requested that you not use that kind of language in front of the dancers, I appreciate that you listened and gave consideration to my words. That is why I feel comfortable giving you feedback, as you have amazing talent for choreography and I believe you have lovely dancers who deserve success.

6) The SO will trash another child or family when talking with us during my daughter's solo practice and it makes me wonder what she is saying about us when we are not around. I try to change the subject as quickly as possible but I may have to actually ask her not to do that.

I understand that constructive dialogue regarding other dancers can be helpful in growing, however I did feel this crossed over into negative commentary that made me feel uneasy. While I encourage my daughter to watch other dancers and take away points from their technique or performance that can benefit her, in my opinion, negative words only serve to bring everyone down.

7) While my daughter enjoys the classes that she takes, I don't think that we are getting what we pay for. The classes start 10 to 15 minutes late, the SO's toddler daughter is often at the studio and will walk into any class which slows up the class and quite often a teenage student "substitutes" for the SO for part or all of a class. That student is a fantastic dancer, but she isn't a teacher and she doesn't plan to be a dance teacher either so this is just for SO's benefit. This happens when the SO is talking with a parent, ordering costumes, registering for competitions or when the toddler needs her mom or when the toddler's dad comes to the studio to pick up their child, just to name a few "reasons". The studio is only open from 5 pm to 10 pm. I don't understand why ordering costumes and registering for contests can't be done outside of studio hours. Also, the SO keeps her phone in her hand during classes and rehearsals and is either texting or doing something on her phone for most of the time.

While transitioning classes, I noticed a lag in time between one class ending and next beginning. While a brief break is expected for changing clothes from class to class, I wish that classes had begun promptly. I feel like the dancers have so much passion and talent that as much time as they can with you, the better they are for it.

8)My daughter has improved some at this studio, she admires the SO because on a good day, she is a lot of fun and she is a genius choreographer and my daughter loves dancing with a great group of girls, but she still has some of the old bad habits that I rarely hear the SO correcting her for.

In fact I feel my daughter has definitely improved since beginning with you. But I wish she had had the dedicated class time to fix some of her bad habits instead of starting late.

9) My daughter had conflicts for a couple of the contests and a former student who quit due to financial reasons/HS schedule, substituted for her. This was set up at the beginning of the school year because those conflicts were well known in advance and the SO wanted my daughter in the studio. But the SO changed the choreography to fit the other girl ( who has a lot more acro experience) and tried to cut my daughter out of a dance for all for the remaining contests. That dance was a crazy hard prop dance, but it is my daughter's favorite dance. And we paid for all of the contest fees and the costume fee and prop fees. I just asked her to switch back to the choreography that my daughter could do. She wasn't happy, but she did that. If she had cut my daughter out of that prop dance, I would have wanted to be reimbursed for all fees and I'm not sure that we would have stayed at the studio as the other dances are not that much fun.

I and my daughter felt hurt that you had considered cutting her from the prop dance. Each dancer brings a different set of talents, and I like that you changed the choreography to suit the talents of the understudy. However, I did feel upset when the choreography wasn't changed back for my daughter as her talent set is different.

10) Today is Mother's Day. Yesterday, we spent 6 hours at the studio for the SO to take recital photos. One of the Sr. girls forgot a costume so that photo will have to be taken during rehearsal today. The rehearsal for today was supposed to start at 3:30 pm ending at 8:30 with us arriving at 2:00 or 2:30 for my daughter's last afternoon solo practice. (Usually her solo practice starts at 9:00 pm, after a long day at school plus dance classes. My daughter is tired at that time and rarely gets more than a couple of run throughs in one of those rehearsals, and the SO usually talks about other things more than she talks to my daughter about her solo.)

I had texted the SO several times this morning asking if we were starting at 2 or 2;30. Just before noon I was told that rehearsal would start at 4:30 and that there would be no solo practice for my daughter because the SO husband had "planned Mother's Day surprises" for her. I feel that this is very irresponsible. Our Christmas break plans were trashed because the SO changed the schedule to fit her family plans at the last minute.

So in sum up, the schedule changes coupled with extra (surprise) rehearsals and various communication issues were were my biggest complaint. I feel both you and the studio are talented, and I hope you hear and understand my perspective. I thank you for what you gave my daughter in terms of both dance and life-lesson growth and hope you have many great years ahead of you.

Or maybe not. Maybe more direct would be better. But I find if you can stage criticism in a way that it's more palatable, it's received better.

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