For Parents

The Cost Of Dance - Why So Pricey, and Is It Worth It?

8:56 AM

We all know dance is expensive. Many of you moms and dads make sacrifices for your children to be able to dance! I've seen testimonies of Moms donating plasma while their child is in rehearsal, Dads picking up extra shifts, and family members getting side-jobs and joining work-from-home businesses to be able to afford all the fees, tuition, travel expenses, and costumes.

Does dance have to be so expensive? And is the price worth it?

dance, cost, pricey, expensive, ballet
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Why is Dance so expensive?

Well for one, because you have to pay your teacher and keep the lights on.

I'm going to do some math for you, using some made-up numbers and made-up examples.

Did you know that starting wage for many dance teachers in my state is $25/hr? That seems like a lot on the surface! But remember, we don't work 40 hours a week, and we don't work 12 months a year! Let's pretend I make $25 an hour (I don't). And let's pretend I work at a dance studio where I am the only ballet teacher (I don't, and I'm not).

Monday - 4 hours.
Tuesday 4 hours
Wednesday - 2 hours
Thursday - 4 hours
Saturday - 6 hours
total: 20 hours X $25/hr = $500 a week gross. Don't forget to pay your taxes.

That comes out to about $2000 a month, but my take-home pay will be more like $1500. That's certainly not enough for a ballet teacher to live on. So now I'm forced to get a second job that accommodates my teaching schedule (possibly an early-morning start with a late-afternoon quit time. Did I mention I worked at a gym and my shifts started at 5am?)

Personally, there are several weeks out of the year I don't work. We have a Thanksgiving break, a Christmas break, a Spring break, and a Summer break. It usually ends up being about 8-8.5 months out of the 12. So in the example above, I'm looking at $17,000 per year.

Aaaaaaaand now you know why I work 4 jobs.

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Now let's talk about the cost of running those classes. 

Maybe my 2-hour Wednesday class only has 5 kids in it. Let's say each kid pays $45/month to take that Wednesday class. That's $225 a month of income for 5 kids, and it comes out to $56.25 a week of income for the studio... and they're paying me $25 an hour. So the studio's income for that class is $6.25. That probably goes into keeping the heat and lights on. So the studio isn't going to actually start getting out of the red and into the black until they get about 7 or 8 kids in the class, and won't make a decent income until they hit closer to 10 kids.

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Why all the fees? 
Because dance teachers and studio owners don't break even. This is a conversation between a dance parent and a studio owner.

This teacher very eloquently broke down the cost of running a (fairly inexpensive) recital. If you're wondering about competition, just imagine this, but on a MUCH larger scale.

Could you find less expensive costumes, and use fewer rhinestones at a competition? Probably. But would you tell your child to go to prom in a plain dress? Probably not.

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Is the cost worth it?

Well, personally, I think so. But just to be sure, I asked every dance mom and gymnastics mom I could find. Here are just a few of their responses.

  • Seeing my daughter work her way past fears and never giving up - learning such a valid life lesson is priceless. I’m a working mum of 3. Eldest has now quit the gym and is a beautiful contemporary dancer. My middle daughter trains in an elite squad 4 times a week and lives for her gym. I couldn’t ever be the reason that she had to quit or cut back. Only if that’s what she wants, but while she wants it I’ll continue working 3 jobs to pay for it
  •'s the discipline it teaches her and how fit it keeps her. My daughter isn't interested in tv iPads phones YouTube like lots of children her age! Which I personally am very anti because she's either at gym or playing gymnastics at home it's a fantastic hobby!
  • As a coach, I've seen shy little 6 year olds walk in the gym and leave as confident happy teenagers ready to take on the world! It teaches them such good life lessons, and the joy and excitement when a new skill is achieved is priceless! I love my job 😊
  • For my son it keeps him focused, he has ASC, ADD and Sensory processing difficulties. He is part of a ‘team’ and he can be one of the cool kids in a world that finds it difficult to accept different. For my daughter it gives her a sense of achievement when with her ASD and LEarning difficulties very little else can x
  • It makes my daughter happy beyond measure. We both know she won't ever be an elite gymnast. However she is determined to improve and trains hard. It gives her confidence in all areas of life. For example her maths improved when she realized that practice, hard work and having a go is important.
  • It teaches our kids resilience. It shows them that to achieve something worthwhile, they have to work hard.
  •  It gives my daughter happiness, structure, routine, respect for other, friends & she is learning that if u work hard enough at something you can achieve your goal x
  • My kids have grown in confidence beyond measure
  • Teaches the huge lesson in life that nothing comes easily, hard work pays off and just because you may fail once if you persevere you can achieve anything you want!
  • she’s learning how to be disciplined and to persevere and also how to support others and also to be gracious.
  • It has given her time management skills, how to be a leader, how to lose gracefully even to your teammates, how to get along with others who are not your cup of tea, how to take criticism, how to grow from disappointment and how to be a better human being.
  • My daughter is extremely shy and didn't make friends easily (doesn't help that she is the young b/g twin). She has made such great friends that are just hers and that is priceless to me.
  • It teaches her time management and teamwork. She learns to work toward goals and how to persist even when it’s hard. Because of dance she is comfortable on a stage in the spotlight in front of big audiences as well as judges. She knows how to handle disappointment as well as success. She has developed a lot of confidence in herself and a great work ethic.
  • My daughter is now 14. She dances for a performing arts high school. She’s danced on a team for ten years now. She learned how to win with pride. She learned how to lose with grace. She learned teamwork, sacrifice and dedication. She found passion in an activity that made her a better human being. #worthit
  • Kids are expensive period...I would rather spend my money on these experiences that she will have for the rest of her life, that will make her who she’ll be..then on “things”
  • She used to be pretty shy and self-conscious. She wouldn’t stand up for herself with her peers. Dance has helped her become a more self-assured person. She now isn’t afraid to try new things, perform in front of people (with dance or other activities). She is also better able to advocate for herself with her friends
  • I don’t pay for dance. I pay for life lessons. I pay for her to learn teamwork. I pay for her to help her teammate with choreography and to sit on the side of the stage and cheer her friend on even though they’re both competing in the same category I pay for her to learn disappointment when it doesn’t go her way and I pay for her to learn humility when it does.I pay for her to learn persistence and to learn dedication when she’s in the studio for hours and hours. 
    If you look at it that way- it’s actually a bargain.
  • When I left my abusive ex-husband last year the kids and my lives were turned upside down. Dance was the only place where my daughter got to keep her normal, and trust me, those teammates and studio owner bent over backwards to make sure she kept it. Dance gives my daughter confidence, and a sense of self-worth like I’ve never known an eleven-year-old could have. It makes her stronger because with Dance she is never alone, even when she is the solo in the spotlight her crew is cheering her on.
  • The dedication, the passion, seeing her try hard and fail, seeing her try even harder and accomplish her goals. Seeing her choose to work with younger dancers rather than go out and party with friends. The late night runs to the studio to just hang out and create. The people she has met and kept up with from all over the country. How she tries to help her students have passion for dance.
  • my daughter was having panic attacks and we had no idea why. I was tucking her in the night of a local performance (she had been invited to the competition team and her dad and I were still deciding). She was in tears and I asked her why and she said “Mom, I just wish I could always feel as great as I feel on stage”. I knew right then that we were doing this regardless of the cost/time required to make it happen.
  • My husband was terminally ill, and I took care of him in our home until days before he passed... During this time our daughter danced. Not only did she make it through this difficult time, she thrived. Teachers and school counselors were amazed by her positive attitude and focus, they like to give me all the credit but I know that it was not a solo effort we had each other, our family, and our dance family. Dance was her therapy, it had a built-in support system, and a freedom of expression that words didn’t allow. It gave us all something positive and beautiful to focus on, and even though the expense of it was hard (still is) it’s benefits are invaluable.
  • When she went from a highly anxious and difficult to separate child, to wanting to quit at 5, to being in the front row of a hard hip hop at 6. When I saw her begin to identify herself as a "dancer" and integrate that into her perception of self in a positive way.
  • My kiddo loves it and WANTS to work hard at it.
  • School is hard for her... she struggles with a learning disability. She loves gymnastics... it's her place to shine. It's really helped rebuild her confidence and self-esteem.
  • Besides my daughters love for the sport, you can’t put a price on teaching determination, dedication, teamwork, persistence, and drive. All qualities that will make her an outstanding young person and adult.
  • My daughter is one that things tend to come easy to. School, athletics, etc. But not gym. She does do well, but it's not easy. The conditioning, the never-ending set of skills to learn, and taking weeks to perfect a new one. It teaches perseverance, hard work and dealing with failures. 
  • My daughter suffers from several chronic medical problems which makes her feel "not normal" as she says. Having gym to focus on and escape to every day makes her feel "normal" (again, her words). I can't put a price tag on the benefit gym has given her mental and emotional health. She works so incredibly hard to do what comes so easy to most girls and if she's willing to do that, even though she rarely places at the top, how could I not support her? It's totally worth it to me.
  • Gymnastics is making my daughter strong. It's increasing her self-confidence, allowing her to experience what her body can do rather than just how it looks. She's learning what she can accomplish with determination and hard work, and developing habits that will help her set and achieve positive goals later in life. How do you put a price on that? It's the same reasons my son plays an instrument, plays football, flies airplanes and is in powerlifting. Because what they get out of it is worth so much more than the price.
Thank you, dance moms, for pouring and investing in your children so they can learn, grow, and develop into the best possible person they can be!

Because what's better than your teenager being proud of herself for her hard work?

P.S. - You think dance is expensive? Have you looked into horse-back-riding?

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