Tara Meinert, the owner/director of Studio 320 Dance in Kansas City, Missouri, loves that they are able to offer high-quality and cutting-edge dance training, in a small-town, family-oriented environment. They go above and beyond with regards to customer service. The staff works hard to make every student a priority – whether they take classes for one hour or ten hours per week. The staff really gets to know their students and their families and appreciate the fact that the students and families trust in them and allow them to do their jobs.
Tara believes that it’s important for both parents and dancers to understand that as individuals, they will not all progress at the same rate. When she has a student who is in need of encouragement, she likes to share the success stories of former or older dancers who put in the work, who dedicated themselves, and who came out not only as stronger dancers, but as stronger people in the end.staff works hard to make every student a priority – whether they take classes for one hour or ten hours per week. The staff really gets to know their students and their families and appreciate the fact that the students and families trust in them and allow them to do their jobs.
Her proudest moments coaching often come in the form of small victories that perhaps only a teacher could appreciate. She feels pride when a 3-year-old enters her class for the first time without tears, when a shy student feels comfortable enough to share a story with her, when a dancer hits a perfect double-turn and her face lights up, and when she witnesses an experienced dancer taking the time to assist a newbie. These are the things that make teaching fun, rewarding, and unlike any other job on earth.
The biggest mistake Tara sees competitive dancers make is placing too much emphasis on awards or on other dancers. Too often she sees dancers come off stage feeling confident and proud of a performance, only to be disappointed and angry after awards. They forget the progress they made and the skills they executed, and turn their focus to who scored higher. It’s important for teachers and parents to curb this behavior and to never feed into it. Both the teachers and the parents must constantly reiterate to their dancers that dance is subjective and a different set of judges will produce a different outcome. It is much more productive to take those judge’s critiques and get back into the studio to work and improve.
Tara believes that the “must have” dancewear items every dancer needs would include a great pair of booty-shorts! Nothing is more distracting to a dancer or an audience than shorts that don’t fit properly. Coverage and comfort are key. Also, proper undergarments for stage are imperative.
This year was all about fun, consistency and progress for her team. So far they have exceeded all Tara’s expectations! According to Tara, they have a tight-knit group of dancers who truly enjoy being around each other. They have great work ethic and great senses of humor. Regarding consistency, they stuck to their lesson plans and made a conscious effort to keep classes and rehearsals upbeat, positive and productive. It has been their best season to date – and they will finish the year with a trip to Panama City, Florida, for Nationals. Then – back to work!
Tara never dreamed she would own a studio. She had graduated college and moved back home to find a job. Her childhood dance teacher told her she needed help with a few classes. As soon as she got back in the studio, her passion for dance was reignited. She tried out for the Kansas City Chiefs Cheerleaders and spent two years on the team while continuing to teach the kids at her old studio. When the opportunity to purchase the business presented itself, she jumped at it! Ten years later, she has learned more than she could have ever imagined – about dance, business, people and about life in general. According to Tara, it has been a wild adventure and she wouldn’t trade it for the world.
If you have experience with Studio 320 Dance or Tara Meinert please leave a comment below about your experience!