Whether your studio is located in a small Midwestern town like mine or a bustling big city, chances are you’ve involved your dancers in some aspect of the community. With parades, fairs, festivals, school programs, fundraisers, or all of the above, your dance performing groups have probably enjoyed some awesome publicity.
It has me thinking lately about why we participate in events within our communities, and the significance of our presence.
Does this sound familiar to you? It’s a Saturday afternoon and show time at the local mall. We hand out brochures, goody bags, and promotional items, such as free class cards. We want to showcase our students’ talents and give the community a peek into the dance world.
Community events can be great performance experiences for the dancers. As well as a good opportunity to get in front of local families who happen to be out shopping that day.
But sometimes our why is not about sales or recruitment; sometimes the purpose behind participating in a community event is simply to do good things, and for no other reason but to offer the positive light that dance shines.
It’s in that spirit that we have been performing at our community’s Thanksgiving Day Dinner for the past 10 years.
When our dancers perform at the Community Center, any thoughts about brand awareness or student recruitment become inconsequential. The performance is about serving the community because it is a beautiful thing to do. We want to bring movement, music, and positivity to those who may need it the most. It is the best thing we know how to do—as a dance studio, as a local business, and as human beings—to lift the spirit and put a smile on someone’s face.
I don’t sell any classes or rehearsals in order to perform at the community dinner, but our involvement in this event might be the best lesson we offer at our studio. It’s essential that our students learn this: that dance can simply brighten the day of a person who is alone; that a dancer’s gifts and talents can be used for this higher purpose. It’s the why behind the dancing that helps teach them empathy, warmth, and grace. It helps them see that performance is not always about showing what they can do; it’s also about human connection.
So what can we do, as studio owners, to teach more of this message to our students?
I think we can participate in community outreach performances as much as possible; I think we can talk about the significance of these opportunities with our dancers; and perhaps most importantly, we can show them that doing good things doesn’t mean we need something in return. As we enter this holiday season, we can take small moments to remind them that it is always better to give than to receive.