Teachers don’t always have a say in how much their class will cost. Those of us who teach for an institution or facility that runs its own programmes and registration are often simply “contract workers”. We are paid hourly rates and students charged class fees as set by the directors/coordinators of such programmes. Teachers may have little say in where the class is held (facility/type of room), or how many people can attend. I have had classes run out of gyms, studios, hallways, pool observation decks, and school classrooms. I have had classes of more than 30 people, which is far too many in my opinion. Examples of these kind of programmes would include the City of Winnipeg, University of Manitoba, Con Ed, and sometimes also dance studios. These classes average from $3 to $7 per class.
Studio classes, or those set up independently by a teacher (e.g. her renting space, in a studio or otherwise) should charge a “going rate”. If you look at several studios in your city and find out what dance classes (any/all kinds) cost, a bellydance class should be about that much. For example, when I was part of the Bravado Studio staff, and I had a say in when the class ran, how many people could be in a class, and how much classes were. They were roughly the same or slightly more than the other classes taught at that studio (in 1997 they were $8 per class).
For my own program, any differences in cost are due to longer class time, longer session, or the level. In some dance studios, students pay their fees as a yearly tuition, not by the session. My class at Rising Star Academy and other studios are a bit different. I rent the space, advertise the classes, and I collect the fees and registration. I still, however, make sure I charge consistently with my other studio classes and with those of other teachers in other studios.
Discounts for members of groups/organizations or for taking multiple classes may be offered by studios or teachers, but should still keep the class in line with going rates of $8 or more per class.
HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU PAY? In my opinion, a teacher setting up her own class or teaching out of a studio should charge at least $8 per 1 hour class, more if the classes are longer. When I started nearly 10 years ago, the classes I took were $8 each. Class prices have not gone up by much in that time. My classes have ranged $9-$15 each for several years running. Specialty classes such as one-time-only workshops and intensives should be priced slightly higher per hour.
Teachers have few excuses for engaging in the ugly practice of undercutting. If no one else is teaching in your town, set your prices by those set in the nearest city or town.