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Reflections on 2023 and Suggestions for the future of our dance industry

Updated: Mar 19

By Peter van der Veek.



The dancing year in Aotearoa New Zealand has nearly come to an end and <me for me to evaluate my first year as chairperson of the NZBDC.

As a novice in an administrative function my first task was to observe and investigate the market of the NZ dance industry. I did that by talking to studio owners, trainers, dancers and parents. I also judged several competitions to get an idea of how these are different to overseas events and visited some dance studios to get a perception of how newcomers to the dance industry are made to feel welcome.

Because Aotearoa has several professional organisations, I talked to each one to see what their game plan was and if they were different from, or indeed similar to, each other.

The thought behind this research was to find out how I can help the New Zealand dance business.

From my start as NZBDC Chairperson, it was clear for me that working together was the big issue to promote.

Being king of your own castle might feel good but can be very lonely. Talking to other ‘kings’ is the way to enlighten yourself and get out of the “same old same old” routine which is inoperative because of our changing global environment.

A sustainable future is built on working together, listening to each other and respecting the differences that may be present.

Although freely and genuinely tendered, nobody likes to hear how they could improve certain aspects of their teaching, business or personal interaction with customers. I knew I had to be careful in offering a helping hand because it could be seen as interfering in matters that were not my concern. The interesting thing however, is that we will pay a lot of money to people we don’t know well, and who are not aware of the ins and outs of our business, just because they are of no threat. This is considered an “independent view” which is more appreciated than a view from within organisations, and I find this quite remarkable.


What can we do?

I have formed a clear vision over these last few months, one that I am happy to discuss with a wider group of interested people. Some suggestions will be obvious while others might be more challenging. Certainly, without change there will be no progression. As in dance, to improve dancers you first must unbalance the state they are in to make the necessary progress.


At the time of writing this summary, we are blessed with at least 3 professional organisations and one amateur organisation in Aotearoa. They all provide a need, and each organisation has their own “king or government” they follow. Perfectly fine because in general people want to belong to an organisation that is close at hand, and they have an affinity with.

In 1965 the idea was raised that the different organisations NZFDT, NZFATD, SATD should work together and thus the NZBDC was formed as a governing body to service all those involved in our beautiful form of dance. This functioned extremely well until 2010 when the first cracks appeared in the concept. Trust is the cornerstone of any partnership, as is loyalty and allowing others to do well. Greed and egos are the worst enemies of that partnership.

At this moment there is little cooperation between the organisations particularly in and around Auckland. For the sake of dancing this must change, and leaders of our industry should lead by example in how we can work together.


My suggestions for the future:

The following diagram is how I see the unification of all societies in Aotearoa:


This governing board of trustees could, and should, venture into different categories, but all overseen by the governing body. Once such a subcategory is established it can report to the board on a regular basis to communicate progress thereafter the board can determine if action is needed. The examples I make below is a first step and in no way an end result.

As with the progress of a dancer there will be step by step progress, with a vision of where we want to go in the future. That future is the first step we need to discuss and I suggest we do this as follows:




What else can we improve?

If we look at a board of directors of most corporate businesses, we can see that their job is to create return for their stakeholders. The board of directors do not necessarily know a lot about the product, but they know what makes money and what does not.

I want to make a statement that our dance business is NOT a corporate business and should not be run like one. We are generally handling people on a one-to-one basis which makes our business fragile and exciting, what we do and how we present ourselves matters to our customers. Our clients will then create a bond with us as teachers and entrepreneurs and for that reason our volume in pupils will increase by word of mouth. We, the teachers are our business!!!!


What we see now is that many of the people that are on a board of a dance organisation are part time dance teachers. Their income is not reliant on their dance business alone it is merely extra pocket money. For that reason, they seem happy to just teach in a school hall with little atmosphere and pay a floor fee. Although this can work for competitors it is not an ideal situation for newcomers to our beautiful industry.

These administrative functions should predominately be occupied by people who make their main income out of dancing! I am pretty sure that there would be other choices made when the money you earn is created from beginners who want to be welcomed in a warm modern environment rather than a sports or school hall.


To conclude.

I do understand that my summary of the year is long and yet in some respects not detailed enough. It is also direct and outspoken which I believe to be a necessary evil.

I am pleased that the dialogue between organisations, dancers and professionals is opening again, and I see a way forward. Ultimately, it is about our common interest- promo<ng our fantastic and unique form of dance at all levels.


The ques<on remains, how can I help?

I implore you to pick up the phone and let me know where you believe our future lies. Wishing you are Merry Christmas and a wonderful New dancing Year.

Ngā mihi,

Peter van der Veek

Tel: 021 991579

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