Last weekend, I had the absolute pleasure of hosting one of the top Zouk dancers in the world from the Netherlands - Pasty. Yes, right here in Melbourne. Pasty came over to teach some incredible workshops, attend a couple of events, and generally inspire and help bring our small dance community to new unprecedented levels. Having international instructors, or indeed, any quality instructor, in Melbourne, is a boon for our scene - the dance scene here is small, and in order to grow in quality, we need input and inspiration from visitors such as Pasty. However, rather sadly, we learned that a certain dance school owner had banned their students from attending Pasty's workshops.
To me, this is supremely unethical - as I've said earlier in my Dance Capability post, no coach in ANY sport should disallow you from learning. This is taken one step further here - to ban your student from learning from an international instructor who's only in town for 2 days is one of the most unethical things you can do as a teacher, or as someone who claims to be invested in growing your dance community, or assisting your students in their growth.
Pasty himself wrote a letter in response, to the dance community, and posted it on Facebook. What was most astounding was not that this person had banned his paying students from attending. It was that indeed, NONE of them attended the workshops.
What has the world come to when paying consumers are taught to be sheep, with no choices and ability to think for themselves? This is not someone telling a consumer not to go to their competitor, which is unethical in itself when the service is personal development. This is someone telling a consumer not to go to a one-off, once in a lifetime, incredible event. And them listening to it and being obedient. This is simply not something I can understand - if I'm paying someone for something, there is no way I am bound to keeping that service providers rules and regulations. Let me give you some examples, of other services/products we consume, and how ludicrous it would be.
- When you buy a mobile phone service, even if you are contracted to that service provider, they can't tell you that you aren't allowed to buy another mobile phone/service in addition to that one, from a competitor.
- When you eat Arnotts cookies all the time, Arnotts doesn't get to tell you that you are not allowed to sample Oreos when Oreo comes up with a brand new flavour.
- When you see the same hairdresser every month, they can't tell you not to get your hair cut by Vidal Sassoon himself when he comes to town. It's an opportunity!
Choosing an instructor is very difficult for personal development. However this is something I see a lot amongst various dance schools. What dance entrepreneurs need to realize is that the more diverse the dance community gets, the more it grows, and the more it grows, the more business there is for all such business owners. The more they seek to divide and conquer (laughable really in a scene where this particular dance style has only a total of about 50 dancers), the more they expose their own fears in insecurities as a leader to their students, and the less they will achieve with customer loyalty, respect, and more.
However, I am doubtful a simple blog post will assist the situation.
Rather, I call upon all students to become smart consumers. And know that you have the power, as a paying consumer, to get what you need from your hobby - especially with the plethora of different dance schools out there to choose from.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Does my coach expect more of me than the average paying consumer? Is this an expectation or am I willing to provide this? (This can be business help, loyalty, extra time, etc)
- Is my coach unreasonable in not allowing me to pursue a full and holistic dance development program at my choice of dance schools?
- Am I truly happy being a part of this dance school's community, with its values, ethics and sense of group/team? Do I walk out of every visit feeling amazing, positive, energetic and like my dancing is getting better?
- Does my coach have the expertise to make me the dancer I want to become? Is he/she willing to pass on that expertise so that I can surpass my own perceived abilities?
- Does my coach give me opportunities, and encourage me to wholeheartedly lead my dance journey in the direction I want?
As paying customers, you have CHOICE. Use it. Dancing is an extremely personal sport. You absolutely need to be able to make these choices. Because dancing is so community based, it becomes part of your personal and social development as well. Do you want to be part of a negative, segregational community, or one that is welcoming, sharing, achievement oriented?