People often ask Steve and me what it is like working together and being married. To many it seems an almost impossible situation, to us it is just the norm. When we met we were working together on a TV show and that was how we started our relationship. From there we went on to form our own adagio act and we worked all over the world for a number of years performing together in shows. We then bought our dance studio and later formed Dance Teacher Web so we have always worked and lived together since the day we met. Like any type of relationship there are ups and downs but what we have found is that we just have a great dynamic between us that works both in our personal and professional lives in a very positive way. That doesn't mean to say that every day is plain sailing and that there are never any shouting matches but we do understand that no matter what happens with work we will be able to make it work together.
Steve and I came from different backgrounds but we found that all of our experiences together made us a strong combination. Having a good sense of humor certainly has helped during the more trying moments and coming to the understanding that we each have a role to play that uses our strengths. When we first worked together we only had to worry about rehearsing, perfecting our act, performing and making sure that we got fabulous contracts. These things together pretty much consumed our days and nights but we didn't mind because we were interested in being an excellent act. Finding time to relax was pretty much impossible but I must say we were fortunate to travel to some exciting countries and to be able to not only visit but actually live in many different parts of the world which was an incomparable education. We were young and extremely eager and although we didn't have the down time that I would recommend we made it work!
Our next step was to buy our studio and we plunged head first into that. In the beginning we both tried to do everything but gradually we realized that I was better at some aspects of the business and Steve took care of the other parts. When we first had our studio, in fact I would say easily for the first 5 years, we worked long hours seven days a week, taking a day off didn't seem to be an option but we soon realized that we needed more balance in our lives. Not even having one day off made us feel tired and overwhelmed. We decided that unless there was a performance coming up that required extra rehearsals that Sunday would be our day off. At that time Steve and I were teaching the majority of the classes. We had two or three other teachers and we did have a front desk person and someone who did all of our design and computer work, but usually what we ended up doing on Sundays was collapsing because we were so exhausted. We were not really able to use that day as a day to think clearly about our business or a day to make good plans. It became evident to us that we each needed an extra day to be able to catch up with everything relating to our business and so we hired two more teachers to pick up the additional classes. That really was a turning point in the growth of our business. We realized that there were many things connected with the business side that we had neglected simply because we were living day to day, we just hadn't had time to sit back and take a close look at the operation of the business. Now with some time to think we were able to take a good look at our marketing and to actually build a marketing strategy, we now had time to study and plan our classes and choreography so that we could offer a better product to our students and we were able to stay current with the financial part of the business, something that we had always felt behind with, because who has the energy or brain power to tackle the books at 11pm? We also hired someone to help us with our financial books and that was a tremendous relief and well worth every penny! We finally accepted that we needed to concentrate on the things we were good at and find a person to help us with anything that wasn't our strength.
Having someone close to you in the same business can really be an advantage because they are living the same life as you are and dealing with the same problems, where it becomes tricky is when you take all of the problems at the studio home with you. I think we are probably all guilty of taking some stuff home, especially when someone has done something to you that have hurt you to the core. We become very close to the students that we work extensively with and there is inevitably someone either because of them themselves or because of parent issues that does something that really upsets you and of course you are going to vent about it at home. We decided during one of these occasions that we were not going to let any of our students or parents spoil our joy or disturb our home life. The reality is that no matter who does what to you at the studio they will eventually move on and you will still keep going, it is just a moment in time. If I felt down Steve would be there to prop me up and I would do the same for him. This way we both kept our sanity and our relationship on an even keel.
We also found that we needed to plan vacation time or even a couple of days off every now and again when we could go away and relax and have fun. Previously we never really thought about going away somewhere because we felt so tied to our studio. What a breakthrough that was! Every time that we would go away we found that we were able to come up with all sorts of ideas to help our business and creatively to build our choreography and shows just because we could think clearly and felt relaxed enough to open our minds up. This decision made our business and personal relationship so much easier and resulted in a lot less conflict.
I am sure that there are moments when we both drive each other crazy but by giving ourselves a little space we are able to work through it knowing that we both have the same desires and wishes for everything to be successful. One of the things that have always been important to us is that we strive for excellence in everything that we do, it's not always easy and sometimes takes more planning but the end result is certainly worth any aggravation along the way.
If you are going to work with a partner I would recommend that you are first and foremost good friends because that is going to be the glue that holds you together. Just as in any relationship there is always the chance that someone you trusted goes against you or tries to take what you have both built up away, there are no guarantees in life but as long as you are both going towards the same goal and have the same ethics there is a good chance that it will work. Make sure that you always have humor in your lives because without it things can be pretty dreary! Find balance and try to make it a priority that when you lock your studio door you leave everything connected with it behind that door. Tomorrow will come very quickly and whatever you have to deal with can wait till tomorrow.
I feel very blessed that Steve and I have been able to work together all these years. Now we have a fantastic faculty and staff who almost don't need us to run the studio or teach the classes. If we want or need to go away either for business or pleasure we can do so knowing that all will be well at the studio. Over the years we have trained our faculty and staff to do things the way that we like for them to be done and they do an excellent job.