Forum: Ask a Studio Owner

How to handle "end of year" talk with Studio Owner
By aparent
On Mon Jun 26, 2017 10:42 PM

Dear Studio Owners:

I originally posted this to Ask a Parent and Ask at Teacher and have received some info on how to handle this situation, and now I would love to hear from Studio Owners.

There are several issues involved.

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 that this is the "first time" something like this has happened. For instance:

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, she acted like it was our fault. There have been so many MANDATORY weekend rehearsals that have been scheduled at the last minute. And my daughter specifically wanted to take jazz. That class was on the original schedule but after a few weeks, jazz was switched to a day that we cannot be at the studio!!

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 that dance if we didn't show up. And that dance was the only close to non-gloomy dance, sort of a sultry techno 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. They have only had about 3 hours practice on this dance. 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. I was not happy.

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, no one cracks a smile in any of the team dances this year) and the SO 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. After we bought the $70 pair of shoes the SO decided against a heels dance. And the only non completely gloomy dance is the last minute "techno jazz".

The SO says that Senior Jazz dances "never win" but I have seen a few really great Broadway style Senior jazz dances win this year. And the girls looked like they were having such a fun time. I sure wish that my D had gotten to dance in that sort of a dance this year as this is her LAST YEAR!!

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 or another type of bottoms 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 are cut high in the front and 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. It was used in a sentence: " I have told you guys a *F***ING MILLION times....."I did not enter the room right them, just listened carefully for the rest of that session, 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. That is not what I pay nearly $1,000 a month for my D to experience. A TEACHER IN A PUBLIC SCHOOL COULD BE FIRED FOR SWEARING AT THEIR STUDENTS. These are still kids. They give up many hours of their weekends to go to the studio to dance gloomy dances and are then yelled at (or sworn at) by the stressed out SO. And she wonders why "no one acts like they want to be here"!! It isn't fun. I have tried to talk to her about encouraging the girls, and asked her to focus on what they are doing correctly instead of constantly grinding down on them but it doesn't seem to sink in.

6) The SO will trash another child or family when talking with us during/after 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 because there were too few Senior girls for a "Senior Company" without my D. But the SO changed the choreography to fit the other girl (who has a lot more acro experience) for those 2 contests and wanted to cut my daughter out of the 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 including the contests where the other girl danced. I just asked the SO to switch back to the choreography that my daughter could do. She wasn't happy, she didn't want to change her "vision" for the dance, but she went back to the original choreography. If she had cut my daughter out of that prop dance, I would have wanted to be reimbursed for all fees for that dance and I'm not sure that we would have stayed at the studio as the other dances are not that much fun.

This is a children's dance studio, not a professional dance company where one has to fight for a part. The choreography needs to fit the students who are in that class. I really don't like it that I paid for the class but the SO really wanted another girl to compete. I didn't tell my daughter that the SO was unhappy about changing her "vision" back to the original choreography. I just asked my D if she wanted to do the dance for the remaining contests or if she was OK with the other girl doing that dance instead. My D wanted to do the dance, she was excited to do a crazy hard prop dance, so she stayed in the dance. The dance hasn't scored as high at the latest competitions but I don't think that the other students' timing issues are due to my daughter staying in the dance and having my D do less acro than the other girl shouldn't be a factor either as these judges have never seen it with the other acro.

10) Today is Mother's Day. Yesterday, we spent 6 hours at the studio for the SO to take recital photos. One of the other 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 very 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 pm 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 entire afternoon and evening.

*Update on the Mother's Day rehearsal: The SO was 15 minutes late to the rehearsal (all of the girls were on time) so the rehearsal ran late that night. So MY last Mother's Day with a child still at home was a bust. I was ok with not having a "celebration" due to the rehearsal schedule when my daughter also had a long solo practice scheduled before team rehearsal, but I'm not happy when there was no solo practice and the SO is late.*

We started at this studio because we hired the SO to work on a solo, but I feel like the solo has been sacrificed to the team as my daughter no longer has a 2 hour solo on the weekend when she is fresh. The SO will only work on the solo during the week after a long day at school and team practice, or after a long team practice on the weekend. My daughter is exhausted then and doesn't get as much out of those solo sessions as she does from a 2 hour session when she is well rested.

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. It is a 70 mile round trip, a total of 1 1/2 hours of travel each time we go to the studio.

We pay nearly $1,000 a month without solo fees. And I always pay on time. And when we had a school conflict with a mandatory conference (not a competition), instead of asking for a refund of that fee, we allowed another student and their parent to take our place. Then the school conflict was cancelled, but we still allowed the other family to take our place.

The SO routinely runs out of bathroom tissue and hand soap in the bathrooms. I have run down to the store to pick up supplies several times and will not take reimbursement. Once I asked for her to work with my daughter for 15 minutes on her solo instead of the reimbursement she offered, but the SO "didn't have the time". And she is always complaining about not making enough money but she won't schedule more solo time for my daughter. I have even offered to pay double and she tells me that it isn't about the money, she doesn't have the time. So it doesn't make sense that she complains about not making enough money.

My daughter gets enough out of this experience that she didn't want to bail when they first started changing the schedule, or when the SO started getting grumpy, etc. so that is the only reason why we are 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 over the years 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?

8 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
On Fri Aug 11, 2017 06:48 PM
Dear Studio Owners:

It is very disappointing that this thread has over 200 views but no replies on how to handle this situation. I would greatly appreciate guidance on this situation from any studio owner.
If you don't have the time or interest in responding to all of the topics covered, at least respond to the one or two where you have some thoughts on the subject.
re: How to handle "end of year" talk with Studio Owner (karma: 1)
By jms9t2
On Fri Aug 11, 2017 08:39 PM
I believe I saw several responses to your question on another thread awhile back. At this point, it is August and it sounds like you are still feeling distressed about this situation. My advice would be to let it go and move on as I'm sure your daughter has new, post-high school things going on that you can support.
re: How to handle "end of year" talk with Studio Owner (karma: 1)
By hummingbird
On Sat Aug 12, 2017 08:10 AM
Yes, you've had quite a few replies both of the other times you asked this same question, here . . .

and here . . .

Most studio owners are busy running their own businesses and probably have enough on their own plates without getting involved in someone else's drama. You've also had some extremely good replies, what more is there to say?
re: How to handle "end of year" talk with Studio Owner
By aparent
On Sat Aug 12, 2017 10:53 AM
Dear Studio Owners:

I suppose that I shouldn't be surprised that the response from is mainly "just get over it" or "you are wasting your time and ours by STILL being "upset" by these issues". But I find them rather harsh.

My apologies for bothering you with my issues. I genuinely thought that Studio Owners would have valid suggestions on how to respond to the Studio Owner who specifically asked for feedback from her studio parents.

Thank you to Sumayah on the Ask a Parent board for her insightful response and encouragement to positively word my discussion with our SO. I highly value your suggestions and the time that you took to respond.

Thank you to Chrisine on the Ask a Teacher board for her clear response on several of the issues. Thank you for your insight and the time that you took to respond.

Last year was a difficult year. We did not "know" what we were getting into. Yes, I knew that the drive was long and that it would be expensive, but I did not know that we would be handing over all control of our time to the Studio Owner and that she would change the schedules repeatedly and increase the rehearsal times and that everything would be considered MANDATORY with the threat of dropping my daughter out of dances if we didn't cooperate. I did not know that her personality would turn so negative. And the Mother's Day rehearsal was not on the original schedule.

As I mentioned in my original thread, my daughter enjoyed dancing with a small group of great girls and the SO was fun when she was in a good mood. My daughter focused on the good parts, as I also tried to do while going through the year. That was why we stayed. We kept hoping it would all turn out alright in the end, that the positives would out weigh the negatives. But basically, I think the balance is in the "meh" range, neither entirely in the positive or negative range.

I thought that Studio Owners in particular would have something to say that would be helpful for a parent who would like to give honest constructive feedback in the hope that the SO can learn how to treat her students and parents so that she stops losing the talented older students every year. She has been in business more than a couple of years and less than 10, but her studio is not growing each year. Only a handful of students have danced there for 3 years.

It would be a lot easier to just "let it go" and focus on the very bright future my daughter has as she attends college. That is one reason why I still haven't had the discussion with the SO as it will take a chunk of my time to drive to the studio and I haven't had the time during our busy Summer as we prepare my D for college. I don't really want to have this conversation over the phone. After the harsh responses from the Ask a Studio Owner board, I really don't know what I'll do. I'll make that decision after my D is settled in college.

Good luck to everyone.
re: How to handle "end of year" talk with Studio Owner
By ChristinePremium member
On Sat Aug 12, 2017 01:33 PM
I will review my original advice...and btw.... I replied to the "Ask a Teacher" post before I saw you had posted the exact same post, word for word, on the Ask A Studio Owner board as well as the Ask A Parent. As it happens, I am a parent, a teacher, and a studio owner, and it seemed silly to re-post the same thoughts three times.

As Hummingbird pointed out, this is a very busy time for Studio Owners. That said, in defense of the many wonderful people who post here, it is possible that they read all your posts, read all the responses, and felt there was nothing left to say. However, I will take the time to review all the other commentary on your particular family issue and get back to you. Hopefully, there will be some universal truth to be gleaned from the particulars of your situation to the general concerns of the other members.

Until later....

Keep On Dancing*
re: How to handle "end of year" talk with Studio Owner
By ChristinePremium member
On Sat Aug 12, 2017 02:07 PM
aparent wrote:

Dear Studio Owners:

It is very disappointing that this thread has over 200 views but no replies on how to handle this situation. I would greatly appreciate guidance on this situation from any studio owner.
If you don't have the time or interest in responding to all of the topics covered, at least respond to the one or two where you have some thoughts on the subject.

Well..... that didn't take as long as I thought it would. In fact, it didn't take any time at all as although several people posted replies at the time you originally posted, you did not reply to anyone.

I don't know if you intended to sound as snarky as your August 11 post seemed to me, but it is kind of revealing that you made NO REPLY WHATSOEVER to the several members who offered their insights SIX WEEKS AGO and now approach the same small group with sarcasm and disappointment. You lecture the 200 "viewers" (many of whom I suspect had read this twice already) for not making any response at all, and yet, unless I missed something, you yourself made no reply to the many people who replied.

Just because you did not agree with their assessment of the situation does not mean they are uncaring. You spend quite a few words to vent and copied and pasted the same post 3 times, yet never engaged with any of the posters who took the time to help you until now.

I mean no disrespect.... honestly.... but I have to ask, what do you expect the studio owner to say to you at this point? The time to address specifics was the time it happened. If a husband stewed for weeks about some grievance and then sand bagged his wife with his complaints after a season had long passed, would anyone think this was a fair or mature way to communicate? Can you imagine if every. single. parent. in this studio approached the SO 3 months after the Mother's Day incident and wanted an accounting? And as T. pointed out, your relationship with this studio is over. What do you want? An apology? A refund? If your true intention is to offer advice to the SO, the time to do this was when it was fresh and when she actually had time to consider your criticism and reflect on how she could have done things differently and developed a strategy to do better in the new season.

Summer is the time when most studio owners regroup, recharge, and take a close look at went went well and what went wrong. They spend a great deal of time and money attending workshops, conferences, college classes, and professional development seminars. They usually approach the new season with several months to view the past season from a healthy distance and make adjustments accordingly.

I re-read my original advice to you and I stand by it. When I wrote it back in June I wondered why you let it go so long and why you allowed the truly unacceptable elements of this to continue. I still wonder.

I feel very sorry for you in that it is clear this has caused you a great deal of pain and I suspect your lashing out at the Studio Owners here on DDN is displaced emotion you have been unwilling to unleash on the studio owner with whom you actually had a business relationship. If you can't let this go and move on as others have suggested (...and please don't be mad at them...this was their best advice...)my best advice is to make an appointment to meet with the SO at a time that works for both of you. You say you don't want to spend the time to drive to the studio, but please bear in mind that she too will be giving up her time for you. Once the time is set, make a short list of what you hope to communicate at the meeting, and do your best to keep accusatory emotions out of it. Express your thoughts, thank her, and then be done with it.

My final advice is this....and this is advice I give to anyone who asks my opinion about anything.... try to put yourself in the other person's position for a moment and imagine how they are viewing your words, actions, and intentions. You have spent a great deal of time listing all your grievances but if I have learned ANYTHING about humans, it is that there are usually two sides to the same story. It may be possible that if the Studio Owner were alone in a meeting with other studio owners, their take on this particular breakdown in human relationship would be very different. This of course, is pure speculation.

I wish you and your daughter the very best. Sincerely. Hopefully, this will end to your satisfaction and you will have the closure you seek. Hopefully your daughter will go to college and navigate the next phase of her life independently and you too can move on with grace and class.


Keep On Dancing*
re: How to handle "end of year" talk with Studio Owner
By aparent
On Sat Aug 12, 2017 03:54 PM
My sincere apologies to anyone who was offended that I did not respond in a timely manner to their post on this issue on any of the 3 "Ask a ..." boards. It was not my intention to offend anyone, either by not replying to their post, or by copying the post to the 3 boards, or by continuing to ask for help. The copying of the post word for word was to make sure that I didn't leave anything out and give a different impression to the readers of each board. I have no way of knowing who reads each "Ask a...." board.

It was not my intention to be "snarky" either, I was disappointed that many had read the posts but few had responded. I sincerely thanked the posters who had constructive suggestions on what to say and how to say it. I just didn't know how to respond to "get over it" posts, so I didn't reply to them.

The original post was posted on the Ask a Parent board well before the actual end of our family's involvement with the studio, at that time there were still several more events left in the studio schedule. I was not about to have a discussion on any of these issues with the SO while there was still an opportunity for the SO to take offence and have it blow back onto my D. It was after mid June before our involvement ended.

I am not trying to sandbag the SO. She has been on vacation plus starting up the rehearsals for next year's teams. And we have been busy preparing D for her move to college. It is just not possible for me to stop in and chat because of the distance.

I do not want an apology or refund. I just want to give her honest feedback with the hope that she can retain more long term students. None of these issues would be unfamiliar to the SO as I had tried to discuss several of them throughout the year. We just stayed as this was my D's only year to be a member of a competition studio and we always hoped that things would "get better".

Yes, everyone knew that this was a "one year only" involvement as my D was a HS Senior. And the SO specifically asked my D to join so that she would have enough students for a Senior team. Going into a "one year only" commitment does not make our experience less valuable than a student or siblings who could have stayed there for years.

I would not have considered talking with the SO after the end of the year except that she asked for input from the parents and she has mentioned that "students quit and I don't know why" and I know that there are less than a handful of students who have stayed at that studio for more than a couple of years, although the studio has been opened for more than a few years.

My D has focused on the positives in this experience, as I have, but I am concerned that if I don't speak to the SO at some point, another year will go by and the SO will lose more students. When she is in a good mood, she is a terrific person, she has a great sense of humor, is very creative in many areas and she is truly a genius at choreography. I know that she is under a lot of stress in and out of the studio. I don't want to add to her stress but I am concerned that if I don't communicate effectively with her that her studio will not thrive. If parents are not communicating to her why they are leaving the studio, there is little hope that the studio will grow.

My apologies if anyone finds anything offensive or "snarky" in this post, or if I have offended anyone in any way with my wording of any of my posts or if I have breached the etiquette of this forum by posting the exact same post to the 3 "Ask a ..." boards. That was not my intention.

I appreciate all of the constructive suggestions and hopefully will be able to use them to effectively communicate eventually with the SO.

Thank you very much for your time.
re: How to handle "end of year" talk with Studio Owner (karma: 1)
By Theresamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sun Sep 10, 2017 07:01 PM
Going into a "one year only" commitment does not make our experience less valuable than a student or siblings who could have stayed there for years.

True. But there's also no direct advantage for the SO to change to suit you, given that you aren't coming back anyway. "You did my kid wrong because of X, Y, and Z, and you've got zero chance to make it right." ...there's no way for her to win there. "Sorry." is all she's got. Which you claim to not really be after.

I've read the Ask A Parent one (I think that's the one I commented on) and this one - more than once, honest - and part of what makes me uncomfortable is that this all comes from a very accusatory place, not a "I have a pure and honest interest in helping your business grow!", and that's not going to help anybody. :/


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