dance teacher conference

Summer Heartbreak


Tiffany Henderson 

CEO and Founder, Twinkle Star Dance

You ended your dance season on a high note after a successful recital, attended an inspirational dance teacher conference, and took a vacation with your family. You return to your studio refreshed and energized for the new year and about three hours into your first day back, 10:33am, you receive The Email. Subject Line: “Star Dancer Name - Next Year.”  

Your heart skips a beat and you silently pray before you click “open” thinking aloud “maybe they just have questions about next year,” but history tells you otherwise. Your hand shakes as you click “read.” You get through the first few words and jump immediately to the end because you have to know. Between the “with heavy hearts” and “difficult email to write” and “moving to a new studio” everything is a blur because you realize at the end end of the email you will never see this dancer again. Just like that the relationship has evaporated abruptly, without warning.

Summer Heartbreak. You now enter the four stages of grieving the unexpected loss of a beloved dancer:

  • Stage one is Sadness - “I didn’t even get to say goodbye.”

  • Stage two is Despair - “What will happen to my dances?” “How will I create anything worthwhile?”

  • Stage three is Anger - “How could they do this?” 

  • Stage four is Self Defense - “I will not get close to anyone ever again.”

Then the lamenting starts to everyone and anyone who will listen. Husbands, parents, teenage kids, and even the unsuspecting Target cashier.

If you have a good husband or partner like me they will just hold you and let you cry. They will also abstain from offering solutions.

Teenage Children are a different story. Your teenage kids will allow you lament for hours because most likely they are on their phones and not listening anyway. After 55 minutes in the car of repeating your sad story they finally look up, roll their eyes, and chant in unison “Who Cares?” ugh. “You have so many dancers mom.”

Honestly, the Target cashier really tried to care about my story. They had no idea that their obligatory question of “How are you today?” would lead to my answer. I had to give the Target cashier an abridged version, given the short amount of time allowed and the long line forming behind me. So I said “I am actually not doing great today. I am a dance teacher and my best dancer left me for another studio can you believe it?” then the Target cashier replies, “Oh so like Dance Moms? I watch that show too.”

OMG NOO!!! What have I become. I gather my bags, leave quickly, and sit in a spiral of shame in my car for 35 minutes wondering what I have done with my life.  

In that moment, I couldn’t figure out why losing ONE dancer was such a crisis. In the end they are all going to leave at some point. How could one person leaving ruin an entire organization or negate my love for something that I have been doing for years? Even though every dancer eventually moves on to the next chapter in their lives, the difference is when they leave like this it seems as if it never happened at all. The relationship is void.

Being a dance teacher is not about the accolades or achievements, it is about the relationships. This is why it hurts so badly.

It actually took me several more years (and more lost students) to fully understand “Summer Heartbreak” and how to react when it happens. From my vantage point now, going into my 20th year of owning a dance studio, the only thing that matters in our lives is our relationships with other humans over our lifetime. Humans are hardwired for connection. Everything else is fleeting and doesn’t serve our soul.  

Knowing that now, this is what I think…

The dancers who left my studio had every right to choose another studio. It isn’t that I think my studio is the only studio where good dancers are trained, it is that I see the love I have for dance reflected in that child’s eyes. In a sense, my dancers are carrying on my passion through their dancing. I am connected to them.   

So when I really, really think about “Summer Heartbreak” I don’t really care if they go dance somewhere else. I just wish we would have had a chance to say goodbye in person. The difference between an email and an in person departure is the acknowledgment and gratitude for sharing my time, passion, and heart.  

I understand this request is not easy for the person who is doing the “breaking up” so it’s not that they didn’t care or were ungrateful. They were just self-preserving. A brilliant man once told me, “People are not against you, they are just for themselves.”

Fast forward to a few years later your heart is healed and you learned to build healthier boundaries. You are still thinking it’s too bad that the relationship ended prematurely because you wish you could reach out to them, find out who they became, and cheer on their accomplishments. What’s funny is I bet your star dancer is thinking that same sentiment about you. 

It’s 5:30pm, you meet eyes with a little Twinkle Star dancer in your dance studio lobby who steals your heart...and it starts all over again.

Need ongoing inspiration for your dance studio business? Save the Date for Pinnacle Dance Conference and Retreat July 10-12, 2020 at the Four Seasons Resort in Scottsdale, AZ. Take advantage of our early bird pricing and save $150 on attendees fees. For more information click here.

Why you should invest in attending dance teacher live events


Wish You Were Here?

Summer is a crazy time of year for dance studio owners. After the madness of recital season ends kids are getting out of school and the dance season winds down. Before we take a breath, it’s July and summer camps, dance intensives, and a new season of classes are starting. My dance studio business is always booming in the summer months and this year it feels even crazier because of all the dance teacher events I am attending.

In addition to planning an end of the year banquet for my performing company dancers and staff, taking a family vacation to Cabo, and training a new set of teachers this summer I am speaking at:

The Twinkle Star Dance Annual Conference July 12-14 in Orlando.

Energize Tools for Studio Success Conference August 16-18 in Chicago.

The Benefit of Live Events

Live events are a catalyst for so many amazing opportunities; several of my dance studio owner friends, a steady stream of new marketing ideas, and overall business growth. While the digital world enables us to connect with other dance tecahers online through social media, there is nothing quite like having a shared experience with someone in an intimate setting. Sitting down with another person for a meal or cocktails, grabbing a quiet moment for a one-on-one conversation, or finding a much needed community deepens the joy I find in running a dance studio.

I like to look for events that will inspire both personal and professional growth. In my twenty years of owning dance studios, I have learned an incredible amount of information and strategies that continue to grow my business, discovered systems and resources that have streamlined my business, and gained connections with valuable vendors and industry experts.

Make a Commitment and Show Up

My challenge to you is to take time away from your dance studio this summer, get off social media, and attend a live dance teacher event. Register or buy a ticket, put it on your calendar, and show up. Eighty percent of the opportunities in life are a result of simply showing up. If this is intimidating for you, grab a friend and make plans to go together!

Attending dance teacher conferences has dramatically impacted my business and greatly enriched my personal life and it can do the same for you. Maybe we’ll even see each other!

Last Chance! Opt In to our Disney Performing Arts Event

Disney Performing Arts- Dance Workshop.JPG

Have you heard? Our friends at Disney Performing Arts are offering Twinkle Star Dance Annual Conference attendees exclusive behind the scenes access. Join us for a magical, unique Disney Performing Arts Workshops experience at Walt Disney World® Resort for registered conference attendees only on Thursday, July 11 from 3:30pm - 6:30pm. All transportation will be provided. 

Participating attendees must opt in by July 1 to confirm their spot. Click here for more information and to opt in:


P.s. A friendly reminder to book your hotel room at the Sheraton Orlando Lake Buena Vista Resort at our $125 discounted rate. Click here to reserve your room: 


Having FOMO? Register for the Twinkle Star Dance Annual Conference July 12-14 in Orlando click here.

Why Dress Code is Important and Why You Need One Your Dance Studio 


Tiffany Henderson with Amanda Scott

In addition to saving dance parents time and money, implementing a dress code at your studio can bring in additional revenue for your business. At Tiffany’s Dance Academy our dress code is mandatory; however several times per season dancers may wear whatever they choose to class. 

If you are interested in offering a dress code this season, consider the benefits below for your dancers:

1) Helps a dancer understand they are going to a structured class (compared to unstructured playtime). When dancers put on their uniform, they get into a specific mindset before dance class. 

2) Ensures that the clothing is not a distraction during class. My second year of studio ownership “The Little Mermaid” was all the rage and every 3-4 year old came in the princess outfit mermaid, tail and all. One problem was that dancers were so distracted by the costumes, they could not focus for the duration of the class. 

3) Ensures that the dancer is appropriately dressed. As teachers we need to be able to see dancers’ bodies and make necessary corrections. When dancers are in dress code you can easily make changes. 

4) Ensures that each dancer has the same brand, style and color of shoes and tights for on stage performances. Uniformity on stage during a performance starts with dress code. If you want everyone to be in the same shoes, tights, costume, and hair style at recital then you need to set the tone in class each week. 

Looking to revamp your existing dress code or start selling dancewear at your studio this fall? Join Twinkle Star Dance in Orlando July 12-14 and attend our special “Setting Your Dress Code” Workshop:

Can’t make it? Join Tiffany for a free webinar July 18 at 10:00am PST / 1:00pm EST:

Three Post-Recital Celebrations You Need to Have


Tiffany Henderson with Amanda Scott

Let’s be honest, only dance studio owners need permission to take time for themselves. Even though our dance studio businesses are a labor of love, it is important for us to take time to recharge after the recital season. Dance studio owners are in constant “work mode” and often struggle with how to wind down and give themselves a much deserved break.

If you are waiting for your to-do list to get shorter before you can take time away, it won’t. A lot of times after I take a much-needed break, the tasks look different to me. With fresh eyes and renewed energy, you will have a more productive way to accomplish something.

Dance studio owners never truly leave our work because we love it so much, but we have to step away to reflect and come up with inspiration for the new season; what dance number am I doing with this group, what recital theme I want to do for next year, etc. Some of the most creative ideas I come up with for my business are on thought up vacation.

Following our year-end recital it is important that we take a moment to celebrate our success and the completion of putting our shows together. In fact, after reviewing how I recover from my recitals and ramp up for the new season, I realize that there are actually three distinct celebrations that need to happen after the final curtain:

1. With your staff - this can be a simple dinner or small party
2. With your family - a vacation away from the studio, free of distractions
3. With yourself - time for you to recharge

Don't miss the ultimate recharge in Orlando July 12-14 at the Twinkle Star Dance Annual Conference. More info here:

Need some more encouragement? Listen to Tiffany’s full webinar here: