#FromTheSQJudgesChair – Studio Hopping

November 15th, 2019 by Elizabeth Radabaugh

Studio Hopper

Studio HopperAs competition dance has developed in the last 30 years, we’ve started to notice a new type of dancer-the studio hopper. A studio hopper is someone who moves from studio to studio, in a short period of time, looking for various benefits. They think they are looking for bigger and better training, classes, environment or studio relationships. This FOMO type of attitude has proven to be the ‘fast-food’ of the dance world. In today’s blog, I’ll be discussing how to handle and cure studio hoppers.


Growing Pains

Have a new studio? You will probably run into a studio hopper or two. Unfortunately, new studios are a magnet to this type of dancer. While you’re trying to set standards, culture and relationships with new students, as well as teach dance, some clients might not see the hard work you’re putting in. It takes time to develop great dancers and you may run into people who think “why am I not…” fill in the blank. The studio hopper is always looking for the next best thing. If they’re not being taught how to do “a la seconde” turns then they’ll go somewhere that will.  They have constant FOMO. As teachers and studios owners, we know that not everyone is going to be a fantastic dancer in their first few years. As we live in an instant gratification era, you might have a student with a wandering eye and looking at what other studios offer. It’s important to drive home that it takes a lot of hard work to be able to do an “a la seconde” turn. Continue to instruct dancers that instant gratification doesn’t exist in the dance world. You must work at it. Any teacher worth their salt, no matter how good, will tell you the exact same thing.


Stay Professional, Keep Your Cool, Think About the Student

studio hopperFor instance, imagine a scenario where a student/parent wants to leave your studio and ‘hop’ to another studio. If you run into this kind studio-hopping drama, stop and think about the wellbeing of the student first. Parents will always think what they are doing is best for their child. It’s going to be hard to convince them of otherwise. They want the best, you want the best, we all want the best! Have a private meeting. Use this opportunity to listen. Talk about what expectations are not being met and reiterate that all children learn at different speeds. You can also use this opportunity to communicate how to strengthen the dancer’s weak areas.  If they simply need to improve on their technique this is going to seem like a much longer conversation than necessary but, to the parent, hearing this information is necessary. If the student needs more advanced training in another area (Acro, Pointe, etc.) and you don’t specialize in that, think of the student first. Perhaps they need to go to a gymnastics school that teaches advanced tumbling. I personally don’t feel that one student needs to be at one school. However, I do think that they need to be on one competition team. The time commitment and team bond are too great to be bouncing between two different studios. If this is the case, it might be time to cut ties. At the end of the day, if they’re just not being put in the front row, and they don’t belong in the front row, this is where you need to talk directly and honestly about their weaknesses and problems.


The Grass Isn’t Always Greener

If you have a studio hopper that has returned, what do you do? Do you take them back? It obviously depends on the situation but, you should think of what kind of precedent you want to set for your studio. Your decision will set an example for the rest of your students and parents. Depending on the circumstances, you also need to think about how this is going to affect your current team. The dynamic of a competition team is important to how they will perform at competition. You don’t need any extra drama the weekend of your competition. Think rationally but, also acknowledge that these are students.  Sometimes a second chance is warranted.


Each situation is going to be different and bring up different and difficult decisions when dealing with studio hoppers. Keep in mind that at the end of the day, everyone is just trying to do their best for themselves. If what is best for you is to cut ties then do it with dignity, grace and diplomacy. Take the high road and you’ll find that maybe that studio hopper will find their way back to you.


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Marissa Staniec is a performer, choreographer, teacher and adjudicator for StarQuest with over 20 years of experience in the dance industry. She also hosts, writes and produces her own podcast on iTunes called “Beyond the Mirror: A Dancer’s Podcast”.