“Nothing comes easy,” one of my childhood dancer friends Patricia posted. And she continued, “I have been teaching my adult ballet class for a year now, and the class keeps getting smaller and smaller. We even opened it up to teenagers and brought in guest teachers, but still, I can’t get more than 2 or 3 students in class. I think I’m going to have to cancel it.”
“Patricia, long time no speak,” I posted. “Maybe I can help! I teach an adult class in Raleigh; and I was having a really hard time myself until I figured out the magic formula. I’d love to share it with you - do you ever come to Raleigh?”
That’s how our conversation started. Though I doubted she would actually come, I invited Patricia to come to Raleigh and take class with us. At first she was hesitant to take me up on it; but her curiosity got the best of her, and she came to one of my typical Sunday afternoon classes.
On this particular day there were 14 of us in class, and it started the usual way:
Dancers arrived 10-15 minutes before class and sat on the studio floor talking and laughing. I greeted every dancer as they arrived and introduced my friend. We had a new girl named Mary that day who hadn’t danced in 10 years. Sara introduced her to Alissa. Alissa told Mary about the day she took her first class with us. Sara told me Mary needed to borrow size 7.5 shoes and got the spare shoes from my shoe bag. Conversation was easy with lots of laughter. Patricia leaned over to me and whispered, “do you always have such a big class?” “Now I do,” I smiled, “but it wasn’t always this way.”
At precisely 3:30 the class stood quietly, ready to go, and I started, “Hello everyone and welcome to The Dancer’s Workout®. Today we are going to do a class called “Thunder and Light.”
The next hour was fabulous. Even though it was their first time, both Mary and Patricia did a fantastic job! After class Mary said this is what she has been hoping to find! Sara grabbed our Welcome Packet and started showing it to Mary. Patricia laughed and said she had absolutely no idea what she was doing but that it was fun! Ashley told her the second class is always much easier than the first! Clare and Carol were talking about something and then I realized Clare was showing her how to do that tricky little “feather turn.” The dancers hung around and chit-chatted a few minutes before they left. “Bye Natasha, bye Jordan, bye Jenny,” I called out. “See you Tuesday,” Virginia said as she waved goodbye.
When everyone was gone, Patricia said, “Wow.” I just grinned ear-to-ear and said, “I know – what a blessing this is! I just love these ladies so much!” And then Patricia says, “It doesn’t feel this way in my studio - So what’s the magic formula?”
We talked for hours. Here are the main ingredients I shared with her.
1 – Attract the ideal type of adult dancer
2 – Provide a safe zone
3 – Create a community that becomes self-sustaining
4 – Offer an experience, not just a class
5 – Create choreography that is fun, interesting, and challenging
6 – Make sure your class is effective as a daily fitness alternative for your ideal type of adult dancer
We talked through all of it! Suddenly Patricia looked at her watch and squealed, “Oh! Look at the time! I’ve got a two-hour drive. I gotta go!” We jumped up and hugged and said how we should never have let so much time go by and how great it was to spend time with a trusted dance friend! “There’s no place like home,” I said, “no place like home.” That’s when she got it… She whirled around and said “Ahh… The magic formula!” and I just smiled...
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"The Dancer’s Workout® are adults-only classes that use ballet, jazz, contemporary, beginner's hip-hop, and toning exercises to recondition the body and spirit! These classes are great for current and former dancers, no matter how long it’s been! Visit www.thedancersworkout.com for more information. Join the TDW Movement and Rediscover the Dancer Within You! "
Click HERE for her featured bio on Dance Teacher+ magazine!
Jules Szabo is a UNC School of the Arts classical ballet graduate
Click HERE for her featured story on the UNCSA website!
For more information about Jules and The Dancer’s Workout®, visit www.thedancersworkout.com