We all know how integral a dance studio can be in the life of a dance student. Dance training occurs over a number of consecutive years, and dance studio owners and teachers often have the pleasure of guiding young people as they blossom into young adults. Dance studios play a vital part in the fabric of these students, and of their families. We have many opportunities to nurture and create communities within our studio walls, and indeed it is this that many dance students look back on fondly – a place, a community, of like-minded people who share the love of dance.
The opportunities we have to create positive opportunities and experiences reach far beyond the mirrored walls of the studio, however. As leaders, we can guide our students and families to give back to the wider community in which we live.
For many years, my dance studio, Jane Grech Dance Centre, has been supporting The Epilepsy Centre in my hometown of Adelaide. Each March, we have celebrated the Centre’s main awareness day by asking our students to dress in purple and make a gold coin donation to the charity. Our catalyst was to support a student who battles daily with epilepsy, and while she no longer dances with us, she remains an important part of our dance family. Interestingly, this year, we donated our raised funds by way of purchasing tickets to their fundraising raffle, and by doing so won a prize of $8,000! These funds will be used to improve our dance community and create even more opportunities for students in the future. It can be so rewarding when the love and positive energy you send out to the world returns to you in kind.
There are many and varied ways dance studios can give back to their community. We all have the power to make a positive impact in the lives of others! Here are just a few ideas to get you started as a community champion.
#1. Colour Days or Dress-Up Days
Most charities have a colour or “dress-up” of sorts that can inspire you. For example, Wearing Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness, Crazy Sock Day, Loud Shirt Day, or one of my studios favourites, Dress like a Pirate Day! Have students dress up for a day or the week for a gold coin donation, take photos, and enjoy the atmosphere and break from uniform.
#2. Bake Days or Morning and Afternoon Teas
Who doesn’t love a cupcake, or any kind of food really, especially hungry dancers at dance studios! Ask families to provide freshly baked cupcakes at a morning or afternoon tea, Host a Ladies “Big Night In”, or participate in an event such as “The Biggest Morning Tea”. Hold a Hot Dog Night or a Milkshake Morning! These events foster a sense of community and create awareness while raising funds for charities that are working hard to positively change the lives of many.
#3. Set up a Scholarship Fund
Dance studio owners are some of the kindest, most generous people I know, and if you haven’t already, consider a Scholarship Fund for students who may otherwise not be able to dance. We all know the power and benefits of having dance in our life, and creating opportunities to share this with disadvantaged or minority groups is a blessing indeed.
#4. Sponsor a Child or Keep outgrown dancewear alive
Dance studios are child-centered organisations, so it makes sense to use some of our enviable position to support other children across the world in a small way each month. There are many organisations that facilitate this, and it is as easy as signing up online. Making a sponsor child part of your family can be a wonderful way to share the love across the globe. If you like this idea but want to include a dance bias, take a leaf out of Georgia Canning’s book. The Director of GC Dance on the Gold Coast Australia, Canning has founded a project called “Peace and Pliés”. A community-based social impact program, Canning’s studio provides ballet shoes and uniforms to children in underprivileged or remote areas and has also helped raise thousands of dollars to help build a dance centre in the slums of Nairobi (Kenya), as well as sponsoring three ballet students at Dance Centre Kenya!
#5. Make it easy for others to give
Amplify your impact by providing convenient ways for busy dance parents to give back to the community. As a working mum of three myself, I know all too well that for the most part I have the very best intentions, but somewhere in the middle of my To Do list and driving between my children’s activities, my well-meaning intentions get forgotten. Ever driven around for days with bags of clothing just waiting to be donated? Contact relevant organisations to set up your studio as a Collection Point for clothing, or ask parents to donate cans of non-perishable food to make Christmas Hampers. Parents are coming to the studio anyway, and this makes it easy for them to do some good, and feel great about themselves, too.
#6. Host a special event that will fill your studio with positive spirit
Amanda and Nathan Barr, of Dance Sensations in Kiama, Australia, took giving back to the community to a whole new level. Recently, they raised over $4,000 for the Alannah and Madeline Foundation by hosting a “Spirit Night” for their studio. Children were divided into four teams and participated in dance events against one another. Points were not only given for participating in the events but also for who showed the most spirit and support toward the teams. The studio also involved the community with 11 local businesses also donating raffle prizes to help raise funds.
#7. Make it personal
As I mentioned, studios are communities within themselves. It is a true blessing to be able to help studio families or employees who are facing adversity through organising events and activities. Nothing says “We’ve got your back” than a group of people rallying together. Together with her students, Louise Wilkinson, director of Australian Dance and Talent Centre, sells beanies to raise money for The Mark Hughes Foundation – beanies for brain cancer. She is particularly passionate about the subject after herself having a brain aneurysm operated on in 2016. My studio was honoured to support one of my team recently through her breast cancer journey. Together, we raised over $2,000, but, more importantly, we gave someone support, love and belief that they could continue on. I’m pleased to say, she’s now fighting fit and stronger than ever.
By Jane Grech of Jane Grech Dance Centre.
Jane Grech is the co-founder and Creative Director of the JG Creative Company, an Australian company dedicated to the development and provision of high quality services to dance and education. Her businesses include Jane Grech Dance Centre, Pirouettes Dancewear, Dance Studio Success and DanceStep Student Teacher Training.
Embracing opportunities to encourage and support other dance studio owners, Jane works as a Leadership and Studio Growth Coach with Dance Studio Owners Association.
An author and speaker on the topics of dance education, entrepreneurship and leadership, Jane is passionate about engaging, motivating and inspiring others. Jane is a regular contributor to Dance Informa Magazine, Dance Studio Owners Association and her own blog, Dance Studio Success.
Jane has three children and runs JG Creative with her husband, Brian. She is a passionate campaigner for cultivating a joy-filled life.