Why is registration on the decline in the dance world? Why are studios closing and teachers moving on to other professions? Why are competitions struggling to stay after they existed and thrived in the past? These are questions for which the answers have not yet been found to satisfaction.
I live in a city where the economy can be boom or bust depending on the resources it is based on. It is not the most stable economy, yet, we keep plugging on. Areas where they have a more stable basis for their economy are struggling as well, but they have more gradual shifts. In recent years, the economy of the dance world has been on the decline. It is a strange phenomenon. I know that other business fields are experiencing or expecting to start experiencing crisis in their economy as well.
There are fewer people registered for classes. There are more students leaving than there are students to replace them. Having fewer students to teach when the same number of teachers exists results in hard times for those who provide the foundation of the community. Is this because dance as a past time is being replaced with other activities? Maybe. Perhaps we are in a natural low in the dance economy’s cycle? It is hard to tell. What we can tell is that there have had to be major cutbacks in classes offered. This has resulted in less variety being available because there is not the student body to support what used to exist. I would have thought with the popularity of dance shows like So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing with the Stars, there would have been a spark of new interest in dance. The numbers do not show this. Hence, there are studios that have been around for decades that are choosing to close their doors because it no longer makes sense to run an expensive facility. The return on having a business has to justify the cost – financially, emotionally, and physically.
The decline of registration in competitions has been staggering. Some competitions that have existed for decades are closing their doors in the coming years. This is a shame as they were part of the tour of competitions that students dreamed about at the beginning of each dance season. It is justifiable why the competitions are closing though. They come at a staggering cost for the promoters of the competition. The facility to host the event at costs a lot. Hiring a variety of judges to create an unbiased panel involves travel and hosting expenses. When there are not enough registrants, it becomes difficult for advertisers to justify advertising if there will be little return on the investment. It feels like one thing after another for the promoters and the stress from trying to keep a dying competition alive hardly seems worth it.
Is the media affecting the dance economy? I would say yes. We are seeing natural disasters happening all over the world. There is coverage everyday about the global economy being in bad shape. That we are headed for crisis again soon. Perhaps this has become a wake up call for those who were spending outlandishly. I have difficulty justifying material purchases for things that I can do without. Investing in my health though is something I cannot scrimp on. Part of this investment is dance as I consider this one of the healthiest things I do. I continue to support dance events in my community as I want to do my best to help maintain what we have left. If dance is important to you, make sure you are doing your part to ensure its survival.