Chasta is the artistic director and owner of Stage Door Dance Productions in Raleigh, North Carolina. She is also the founder of The Dance Exec, a website and organization that provided resources and training for dance studio owners. The resources from The Dance Exec have a new home on the TutuTix blog, giving dance studio owners an even more in-depth library of free tools and information with which to grow their business. Chasta contributes to the TutuTix blog from time to time, offering her perspective as a studio owner (and TutuTix client!).
Highly successful people choose to develop good habits and routines. They work consistently, with discipline, and do not allow excuses to overshadow their goals. It is rumored that a habit forms in 20-21 days; however, this Forbes’ article (a great read!) debunks the myth and elaborates on the formulating steps required to make an activity a way of life.
Examples of habits for our students may be:
Working Towards a Technical Goal
A Conditioning Plan
Time Management & Organization
Examples of habits for Instructors/Studio Owners may be:
Healthier Lifestyle Habits
Business/Work- Oriented Goals
Improved Time Management
Whatever you are working towards, commit to achieving the level of success that will positively impact your quality of life. It will make a difference!
Once you complete your end-of-year show, you may have a few remaining souvenir merchandise items. If you are wondering what to do with them, here are some creative ways we make use of our leftover dance recital items!
Distribute A Copy to Advertisers
Save Copies to Promote Next Year’s Program
Place A Few In the Lobby for Reference
Frame the Cover for Display
Play in Your Lobby
Send to Prospective Clients for Reference
Recital-Specific T-Shirts or Clothing
Frame and Display in Your Lobby
Use As Summer Door Prizes
Replace the Show T-Shirt with a Logo T-Shirt and Include in Auction Baskets/Giveaways
Donate to children’s hospitals
Donate to preschools
Donate to elementary schools
Flowers or Flower Bouquets
Donate to a Nursing Home
Give extra flowers to your parent volunteers
Give flowers to any of the merchants you used for your recital (printers, caterers, venue management staff, etc)
At your performances, pre-show announcements regarding safety, etiquette, and intermission should be conveyed to your audience members. You may choose to deliver the announcements on stage, from backstage, or via a pre-recorded message.
General Pre-Show Announcements Template
ProduceAPlay.com had a great template for a standard announcement for the performing arts:
“Welcome to the Sidewalk Studio Theatre’s production of Milk and Cookies by Jonathan Dorf.
At this time, please turn off or silence any cell phones or electronic devices and refrain from texting, and please keep in mind that recording the performance or taking photographs is not permitted.
There will be one fifteen-minute intermission, and next month, we hope you’ll join us for our production of Great Expectations, adapted from the Dickens classic by Rocco P. Natale.
In case of an emergency, please exit through the door through which you entered, or through the curtain to your left. Thank you, and enjoy the show!”
The language can be customized for your studio. Produce A Play is clearly geared towards a drama production, not a dance recital, but they nail some of the basic information to include:
Welcome and Introduction to the evening
Cell Phone / Photography / Recording
Information about the order of events (this may already be in the program, but it’s often worth it to mention it again)
Announcement about any other dance studio events coming up
Emergency exits or other emergency information
This year, we are going to start our show with our Opening Number (in order for the audience to be attentive), and THEN we’ll play the pre-show announcements. This method also helps us facilitate some quick changes before the second piece!
To complete the arm lines on the body, the fingers must be placed and engaged. One of the most prominent and noticeable choreographic errors may be found in “sloppy, floppy fingers.” It breaks the line of the body and is terribly distracting. Thankfully, with some specific critiques and dance instruction, we can fix that!
First, it is important to specify the placement of the hands and fingers.
For example, when a teacher says “hands on hips”, does the phrase mean:
No specification? (all students will likely do it differently)
Blades on hips with the thumb separated from the fingers and the fingers pointing down?
Fists on hips?
Or, if arms are directed to be placed in a “high V”, are the expectations:
Palms in? Or out?
Fingers together? Or apart?
Thumb connected or attached?
Specificity is key to uniformity. When students struggle to grasp the placement of the fingers, take pictures. Show them the difference.
When the fingers curl or move from their placement, a student may not even realize it.
Take the time to encourage specific, purposeful, and detailed movement. It will encourage your students to take direction and pay attention to detail, which will improve their overall performance!
This year, in order to make sure everyone is fully prepared for recital, we are taking a proactive approach to dance recital shoes and checking shoes in class. That way, we can directly communicate with parents that may need to purchase or borrow a new pair or clean up their current shoes.
The details really do matter for a stage ready look! When checking shoes, take the following into consideration:
Correct Style – having recommended brands for parents to go find can be a HUGE help in this category
Correct Color – do the recital costumes require a different color than what is typically worn in class?
Proper Fit – has the dancer’s foot grown throughout the course of the dance year?
Condition of Shoes – has dance class taken a toll on a pair of shoes, making them preferable for practice instead of performance?
It’s very important for dance recital shoes to fit properly, and to look the part: performance-ready!
For dancers who need to replace their pointe shoes, or who want to have an extra pair just in case, make sure they and their parents know the right way to get fitted for pointe shoes. Sometimes a studio will go as a group to get fitted, or might bring in a fitter for a class’ first pair. But close to recital season, studio owners and teachers won’t have time to help each dancer prepare their own materials.
If parents require some redirection, make sure you give them plenty of time to properly replace shoes. Last minute notices may create unnecessary tension or frustration. When you approach it collaboratively, it will usually yield the most successful results!
The curtain call is the final moment of the show where all of the students re-appear for a final time. This year, I challenged myself to heighten the organization and systemization of our Curtain Call for our varying shows. To do this, I planned out specific curtain call choreography and practiced it in our classes for the weeks leading up to recital.
This is the culmination of your year, as a studio, and the results should appear effortless, organized, and fun for students. Select fun, inspiring music (or a mix of music) that compliments your theme, and delegate times for each group to take their bows.
Each year, the Curtain Call is organized into group numbers (for example, a 2-3 year old class might be Group #1). Prior to curtain call, the hallway backstage is lined up with the group numbers to make the curtain call process easy to fluidly feed into the stage area.
All students are asked to remain onstage after the curtain call. If the students were held in the younger students area, then their room chaperones take them back to their area. If the students were held in the backstage area, they return to their dressing rooms to wait for dismissal.
The final product is a tabled infographic specific to each show and showtime, which you can see below:
CURTAIN CALL 2017
Show Time (7PM)
3-8 Counts to Walk Out / 1-8 Count to Bow / 1-8 Count to Move to Final Pose
This is an easy to read, easy to understand diagram. It will be posted in all of the studio rooms with a copy of the music for class rehearsal. We usually rehearse the Curtain Call for 5 minutes at the end of each class for 4-5 weeks before recital.
How do you maintain your accountability as a dance professional?
Here are some thoughts for maintaining your relevance and staying refreshed:
Research New Ideas
Network with Other Professionals
Continue Your Education
Reflect on Your Career Progress
Consider Progress & Evolution
Have A Responsibility to Share
The responsibility to share promotes the practical application of research, network, education, reflection, and progress & evolution.
Find Your Outlet
As an example, with The Dance Exec, I enjoy the process of finding new content and information about our industry. I enjoy thinking through my teaching and choreography style to see what and how I can improve and evolve as an instructor.
It expands my network and worldview, and in turn, it makes me approach all of my work with a unique perspective.
What is your outlet for professional accountability? What do you do to make yourself the best professional?
As studio owners, we know the power that the recital has on your brand. At the end of each year, this is your culminating event that will ultimately affect registrations for the upcoming seasons. The planning process should be taken very seriously, and you should get started early!
Pre-planning, organization, preparedness, and professionalism are essential elements in creating a strong, cohesive positive performance experience for students, parents, and instructors. If people love your recital, then they will love your brand! In fact, if the recital is an enjoyable experience, your clientele will eagerly anticipate the arrival of the event each year.
Looking for more ideas to take your recital and your studio to the next level? Check out these additional resources:
Connecting with students is imperative to the lasting success and legacy of your business. You have an opportunity to make a difference in a child’s life and inspire their appreciation for the performing arts. Being a dance teacher is a huge role, responsibility, and opportunity, and it should be taken seriously. The following tips will help you connect in meaningful ways that are fruitful for yourself and your students.
TIP 1: Be a Role Model
When you work with children on a regular basis, it is important you take your job seriously and that you strive to be the best role model possible. Students should never see personal vices (cursing, drinking, smoking), and you should always have the students’ best interest at heart with each and every interaction.
TIP 2: Be Realistic with Expectations
Some students may choose to pursue a professional career in dance, but, for many, the experience will be about building self-confidence, leadership, physical fitness, poise, discipline, time management, and an appreciation for the arts. Even the students that are not destined for professional careers are important, and you should treat them with an equal level of significance.
TIP 3: Be Knowledgeable
When students come to you inquiring about professional opportunities and avenues for personal growth, be prepared with an accurate and helpful response. Familiarize yourself with area dance programs, conventions, summer workshops, colleges, benefits of varying majors, conservatories, industrial work, theatrical work, theme park work, agencies, etc. You should know every avenue available to students; they are relying on you for that information.
TIP 4: Be the Teacher
When instructing students throughout their lives, it can be difficult to maintain professional boundaries; however, it is critical that those boundaries exist for the relationship to be effective in the child’s development. In order for the student to have respect for you as an instructor, there must clear boundaries in place. Communication should only be managed through professional outlets (i.e. the studio), and owners/instructors should avoid unprofessional relationships via social media outlets (remember, you are the adult, so the student is relying on you to utilize professional protocol).
TIP 5: Be Truthful
Always be open and honest with your students. Inform them when they are doing great and let them know when they can improve. If students respect your truthfulness, the relationship will flourish and grow.
TIP 6: Teach More than Steps
The dance world is full of history, knowledge, and culture. Make sure students know their terminology, origin of steps, and important figures and moments in dance history.
At the same time, instill lifelong values in your students; teach them to be strong, productive, good-willed citizens and leaders. You can do this through community service events, supporting their artistic and scholastic endeavors, and offering them multiple avenues to express themselves and acquire leadership roles (Work Study Programming, Junior Membership Organizations, etc.).
TIP 7: Resist Parent Influence
When working with children, parents’ behavior can easily influence the treatment of a child in the classroom setting. Try to rise above this desire and objectively view the situation from the child’s perspective. Your kindness and professionalism will go a long way in impacting the student, and it may even result in a change of heart from the parent.
TIP 8: Refrain from Judgment
Sometimes, students need to leave the studio to venture on another path in life (whether it be a relocation, studio change, activity change, etc.). If you approach these changes with support rather than resentment, the students/parents are only going to respect your business and brand.
When one door closes, another usually opens. Celebrate the opportunity and take solace in the fact that the change was likely for the benefit of all parties involved.
If clientele have a positive exit experience, they will share it with others and will recommend your studio. The Dance Exec’s Studio makes a point to let people know that “our door is always open.” And, countless times, we have had clients return.
YOUR DANCE SCHOOL WEBSITE = YOUR INTERNET STOREFRONT
The Internet is here to stay, so instead of avoiding cyberspace, dance studios should embrace the endless marketing opportunities available. There are numerous ways to increase exposure, strengthen your brand, and provide insight into your programming. Most online options are an incredibly reasonable expense, especially after doing a cost-benefit analysis in potential for strengthening, growing, and building your brand.
Your storefront defines your business within your community. Your website defines your business within the Internet. Your website should be taken seriously; spend the money to make it look professional, intellectual, and representative of the product you are offering your clients. When you are representing your business, you should have a cohesive graphic identity and that should flow from your print marketing to your website design. It is your responsibility to make sure everything makes sense to the consumer.
Within the dance studio world, there are a variety of websites, some effective and some ineffective, and because we are in the arts industry, studio owners tend to devalue the importance of their web presence. This is a huge mistake! Your dance school website could influence a prospective client’s decision to choose your studio versus another studio or extracurricular activity.
Here are some things to consider during your website design process:
The appearance of your website is the first thing that will catch a viewer’s eye, and it will also influence whether or not the viewer chooses to continue reading the information your site provides. Your online appearance is of vital importance.
Hire a web designer: Free, homemade, or cheap-looking sites are not acceptable for your business. If you want your clients to take you seriously, design and brand your website in a professional manner.
Keep your site updated. An outdated or neglected website is a disservice to your brand and will only negatively impact you. Make sure you have a format that is user-friendly for updates and regularly skim the site for outdated content.
Be aware of the design quality. In the dance world, we love bright, crazy colors and sparkly things. Your website may not be the best avenue to showcase that love, so when designing your site, think “less is more.” Less vibrant tones will be more visually appealing to your site visitors.
Use proper grammar and spelling. This would seemingly be stating the obvious, but there are many dance studio websites with improper grammar and spelling. Ultimately, this is a poor reflection on the studio, so when preparing your written content for the website, please proofread and check for grammatical errors (often, it takes two, three, or more people to sufficiently proofread content).
Make sure your site offers easy, logical navigation options with a sleek and clean design. If your site is cluttered, it will be frustrating for clients to navigate.
Use your own content. Do NOT copy and paste materials from other studios’ websites. Be creative, be original, and create content that exclusively represents your studio and your business. On a similar topic, you should only use photos that actually represent your business; stock photos or photos from another studio are not an accurate representation and should not be used to promote your business.
Dance School Website Content
Your website content should be informative, accurate, and thorough. If a person visits your website, you should be willing to provide all of the information necessary to enroll and be a part of your program. Being evasive with your information is not an efficient way to promote your program or your business. Providing commonly requested information will also decrease time spent informing new or potential clients about your programming (since they will have access to that information).
When building your dance school website, you should include:
Your location and contact info on every page; people should be able to easily connect with you via your site.
Links to your social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blog, photo sites, etc.)
Information about the people that currently work at your studio: owners, directors, and instructors.
Information about your business: mission statement, class descriptions, facility photos, testimonials, and contact links.
Class schedules presented and formatted in an easy to read and easy to find format that makes sense to non-dancers (remember, the majority of your parents will not be experienced dance professionals).
Online Registration! Make it easy for people to register for classes.
Information about your studio’s special events (intensives, workshops, open houses), performances, special offerings (birthday parties, private lessons, etc.), community service, and anything else that is important to the culture of your brand.
Your studio’s policies and calendar. (If this information is on your website, people will not have an excuse for not knowing.)
Photos and videos taken from within your studio (with parental permission and acknowledgement).
Contact form that makes it easy for people to communicate with you.
When people visit your site, it should be informative and functional in the following ways:
Visitors should gain a solid knowledge of the overall culture and brand of your studio. They should know your complete expectations for enrollment, tuition, recital participation, etc.
Visitors should be able to register students for classes.
Visitors should be informed about upcoming events, schedules, and calendar.
Every studio, at some point, has to manage difficult situations involving dance parents. The Dance Exec’s Studio has been in that position numerous times, and parent management is a skill that must be continually honed and evolved in order to be effective and productive.
Before sharing information that The Dance Exec’s Studio has found beneficial, it is necessary to preface this topic with the disclaimer that many dance parents are perfectly reasonable, rational, understanding, and nice. For parents that may not be as reasonable, there are measures that can be implemented to protect yourself and your business. These tips are most certainly not the definitive pinnacles of dance parent management, but they have helped The Dance Exec’s Studio greatly and will likely help you, as well.
TIP 1: Define Communication Methods
Your ability to communicate and interact with dance parents is critical to the success of your business. You must be confident in your business, staff, methods, and service, and you should have written materials to back-up your rules, policies, and procedures. The combination of confidence and written materials will deter and quickly dissolve many of your studio’s potential conflicts. You are providing your studio parents the tools to succeed, and if they choose to neglect the materials presented, their failure is no longer your fault.
Within your communication infrastructure, your studio should have a single point person (ideally, the Owner or Director) that handles resolving serious concerns and issues. This point person should be accessible to parents. When there are too many people to go through, resolutions feel impersonal and unimportant. It is imperative that the point person take the time to respond to emails, field phone calls, and speak to parents that request meetings.
Concerns and issues should be addressed in a timely manner and should not be avoided. Issues should be addressed within 24 hours. Many times, people assume avoidance will resolve an issue; instead, this assumption often backfires and the issue magnifies and may even escalate throughout the studio (parents love to convince other parents to “take their side”). Take every initiative possible to prevent miscommunications and misunderstandings, and when a situation arises, defuse it immediately.
TIP 2: Set Professional Boundaries
When studios blur the lines between friendship and clientele, opportunity arises for conflicts, accusations of favoritism, and disrespect towards the studio. If everyone is treated equally and no favoritism is shown towards any particular family, then no one can comment or complain on unfair situations (whether they are accurate or not). Since the students and families of your studio are your clientele and the livelihood of your business, they should all be treated in an equal and respectful manner.
Often, studios will accept lavish gifts from particular dance parents or will give certain families scholarships. Ask yourself if engaging in these acts influences the way you treat these students and families. When relationships become overly personal, it is difficult to see situations from an objective perspective, which can negatively influence the relationship and the culture of your business.
Treat everyone as equally and professionally as possible. Apply the rules to everyone and only make exceptions if you are willing to equally offer them.
TIP 3: Be Confident in Your Knowledge
Parents have opinions on how classes should be taught, who you should hire, what costumes should be worn, and how recital should be organized—and, that is only the beginning of the list of their opinions. You have to be confident enough in what you offer that you are unwavering in your decisions and choices for your business.
You are the expert, and you must approach each situation from that perspective. Parents are paying to have their students enrolled in your training program. And for the training to be successful, they have to trust your judgment and qualifications.
For this relationship to be successful, you have to maintain your qualifications. Stay current, know what is happening in your studio and in the dance industry, and be quick, confident, and knowledgeable about any questions regarding dance, the dance industry, your studio, your class disciplines, dance apparel, dance music, etc. If it happens in the dance world and is related to dance in any way, you should know how to answer the question. Not knowing is unacceptable and will damage parental confidence in your brand.
(As a side note, if you do not know the answer to a particular question, you should research and find the appropriate answer. Making up an answer is unacceptable, too.)
TIP 4: Be the Leader
Your studio culture depends heavily on your leadership and behavior. Dance parents will follow your behavioral cues. If you easily lose your temper, parents will be on edge. If you stress winning over learning, parents will buy into that philosophy. If you employ an inner competitiveness over a nurturing facility, that will be the environment within your studio. If you teach improper technique, your clients will think that you are right.
The bottom line is that you are the professional, and you have the highly important duty of setting in motion the values and culture that will influence each and every one of your students and parents during the time spent at your studio. You must be very careful in your daily interactions, continuing education, networking, and communication because it all intertwines to define your studio. How do you want to be perceived? Be sure your behavior sows the seeds you wish to reap.
TIP 5: Take the Higher Road
There will be sensitive situations, criticisms, and feedback that will be difficult to hear. It is absolutely unavoidable, and the more people and clients you encounter, the greater the likelihood of such situations. Even if a client is losing his/her temper, it is imperative that you remain calm, professional, and collected regardless of the situation. With such situations, it is important that you handle them in a discretionary manner; gossiping about clients will only make you appear unprofessional and immature.
TIP 6: Prepare for Stressful Situations
Identify high-stress times for parents during the dance year and take extra measures to ensure they are prepared and ready (Per Tip #1, eliminating the surprise element and communicating explicit details are keys to your success). For The Dance Exec’s Studio, the highest-stress times are competitions and recitals. Be sensitive to parental needs and realize that their stress is likely stemming from being in an unfamiliar environment. If you approach the situation with confidence and reassurance, the stress will likely diffuse.
TIP 7: Sometimes It’s Better to Let Go
Sometimes, clients will be dissatisfied with your business, and often times, it has absolutely nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. Our studio operates under the policy that everyone deserves to be a part of a studio or extracurricular that is the “best fit” for his or her family.
With some situations, offering the person the opportunity to receive a refund and attend elsewhere is the ideal option. It allows them the opportunity to leave your studio on a positive note (in most cases) and removes their toxicity from your studio. An overly negative parent can affect other clients, and it is much better to let them go than to hang on to them.
Money is not necessarily everything in regards to your business, and it is important that you recognize when it is time to let someone go from your programming.
TIP 8: Rely on Your Networks
Dealing with dance parents and clients can be stressful. Rely on your network of business and studio owners to discuss problematic situations and read books about interacting and managing people to maintain a fresh perspective. The Dance Exec is also happy to help discuss handling case-by-case scenarios. Do not let parental problems effect the way you operate your business; be confident, be strong, and be proud of what you have created.
Once you find your ideal location, the next step is setting up the space and determining the best, most cost effective and functional way to fill the space. When you find your space, you will have a tangible element to begin constructing your dream and your studio. As mentioned before, the layout of your dance studio floor plans is critical to maximizing your business capabilities. Your design should be smart, sleek, and efficient.
Free Space vs Common Space
At The Dance Exec’s Studio as much space as possible was dedicated to actual dancing space. Out of 4,200 square feet, about 1,050 square feet is dedicated to common spaces like a lobby, office, hallway, bathroom and storage space. When designing your overall space keep in mind that about three-fourths of your space should be dedicated to income producing (danceable) space.
An important question to consider is: how much free space does a dancer need? If there is a 1,000 square foot room, how many teenage dancers can fit into that room comfortably?
Lobby space should be minimal. The lobby does not need to be a large space for parents to loiter, as that encourages gossip and detracts from studio space. The Dance Exec’s Studio’s lobby is about 240 square feet and can accommodate 24 seated parents plus their children in laps during the transition times in between classes.
Sometimes, there are upward of 35 adults and their small children bustling through the lobby. Though it is uncomfortable with that many people in the space, the way the dance studio floor plans were designed encourages people to be expeditious and transient. You are running a dance education business, not a hang out spot for parents or idle students.
Necessary spaces like office space, bathrooms, and hallways should be practical (often, minimum size is dictated by building codes), but should be kept as small as possible.
Dressing room areas should be large enough to accommodate a few changing students but should not be so large as to encourage students to loiter. A student in the changing room should be there solely with the purpose of preparing for their next class (or storing a few items while they attend class).
Storage room should not be neglected in planning your space. Storage should be large enough to keep all items for studio operations organized and out of sight. Though very important, storage space too should not be huge and should be organized in a structured manner.
In creating your dance studio floor plans and finalizing a layout, maintaining dance space as the priority is key. Homework areas and places to eat and hangout should be avoided. Schedules should be planned in a way that students at the studio are there to take class. If the time arises for activities such as a snack or homework, the lobby space should be sufficient to serve as a temporary spot for such tasks.
It’s important to think about all the different pieces of equipment and dance gear that will make up your dance studio space, because each feature has an important role. Whether it’s the height of the ceiling, deciding which of the dance floor types is most suitable, what kind of mirrors you’ll need, what kind of barre you’ll want, have a picture in mind of what you want your ideal school to look like (and have a budget ready to work with). And, make sure to have fun in your decorating; allow your personality and passion to shine!
Walls & Ceilings
When outfitting your space, it is helpful to install insulation in the walls to assist in reducing noise transfer between studio rooms. It is not always required to install insulation in interior spaces, but this can be an inexpensive way to keep your space quieter (lobbies, bathrooms, if you have multiple rooms)
A high ceiling can make a space feel larger, and, conversely, a low ceiling can make a room feel smaller. The Dance Exec’s Studio has 12-foot ceilings in the studio rooms, making the area feel open and spacious. In comparison, some studios with lower ceilings and similar sized rooms do not feel nearly as large.
Some spaces will not be able to accommodate high ceilings, but you certainly want them to be as high as possible. Ceiling materials can also affect noise transfer, so be sure to take that into consideration in your planning and product selection.
The single most important feature in a dance studio is quite possibly the dance room floor. Which of the dance floor types you select will largely be dictated by budget, but a nice sprung floor system can easily be constructed for around seven to nine dollars per square foot.
There are also several flooring companies that install dance floors, though their prices are considerably higher. Sprung floors can greatly reduce risk of injury, and increase the overall health and well being of the instructors and dancers at your studio. For the health and longevity of your students and instructors, this is absolutely not a corner you can afford to cut.
There are several choices when it comes to dance floor types. What you choose will be dictated by your use of the dance room (ballet only, tap only, multipurpose floor, etc.).
The size of your studio’s mirrors can also make a big difference in how large a space appears. The Dance Exec’s Studio has mirrors that are 8 feet high, which makes the space appear much larger than studios that opt to use 4 or 6-foot mirrors.
For walls with mirrors, it is important to have an open wall with minimal obstructions (electrical outlets, light switches, etc). The cost of working around switches and outlets can significantly increase the cost of mirror installation.
There are several companies that sell wall and floor mounted barres. Wall mounted or floor mounted barres can be expensive, but are a great permanent installation for your space. The Dance Exec’s Studio chose to use portable barres. This allows barres to be pulled into the middle of the floor, and they can be oriented so they face the mirrors as well.
Portable barres are an optimal, flexible option for studio space. They can be built with PVC piping or metal piping (iron or galvanized is a great option). Your choice for barres will likely depend on your budget and how you would like to utilize your space.
Your sound system selections should be professional, functioning, and appropriate for your studio space.
Sound systems should play CDs, iPods, iPads, laptops, etc. Make sure your equipment is up-to-date with the current technology.
Closed-Circuit Monitoring System & Options
Observation windows are likely the biggest deterrent from creating a focused learning environment for dance studio students. Younger students are easily distracted and will likely want to wave or blow kisses to their parents through the observation window.
The parents reciprocate communication, thinking it is cute without realizing that it is drawing every single students’ attention away from the reason they are there: to receive a dance education. As the students age, they become self-conscious about being observed, which can be equally distracting.
In order to remedy this problem, The Dance Exec’s Studio installed a closed circuit monitoring system. In the lobby, there are 4 flat screen, wall-mounted, television monitors. Three of them display our three dance rooms, and parents have the ability to watch their students’ entire classes without creating a distraction.
On studio tours, this is pointed out as a huge selling point to increase focus in the classroom, while allowing parents to watch the entire class without crowding around an observation window. It is a win-win for students, instructors and parents! The other TV monitor is used to show DVDs of previous recitals, pictures of dancers put on DVD, or other items that can be further selling points to prospective parents.
***This is a project that you can accomplish independently. Several home security systems are built to provide closed circuit monitoring (you can even include digital recording options). These systems are fairly inexpensive and relatively simple to install. Security companies are also able to install a similar system, but are more expensive to hire.
Studio Security Options
You may choose to have a security system installed that has monitoring that is paid through a monthly fee. If you are considering a closed circuit monitoring system, these can connect into one system that will provide your space with a heightened level of security to ease your mind and serve as a part of your parent observation system.
One thing that many studio owners do not consider is: “Who has a key to your studio?” Inevitably, someone will wind up with a key, and you will wish they did not have one. Even if they return the key, how do you know they did not have a copy made? Do you want to change the locks every time this happens?
The Dance Exec’s Studio has a keypad with a code that owners/employees have to type in that unlocks the door. This was a relatively expensive installation fee upfront, but the functionality has made it worth the investment. We never have to worry about having the locks changed for fear of someone having a key (or incur such an expense). Changing the code to the front door is about a 2- minute process.
The front desk person is always present to allow parents to enter (by pressing a button that “buzzes” them in). A doorbell was also installed for clients to ring in the event the front desk person has stepped away. This may seem like overkill, but many daycares and preschools are implementing this level of security, so in many cases, parents in this area are familiar with the concept. Hopefully, you have chosen a safe location, but this truly prevents people from entering your studio without someone in the building knowing that they are there.
This can be used as a selling point to parents as it also helps ensure that children are not running outside without a parent, and parents also know that you work hard to keep potentially unsafe people out of the studio. At one point in The Dance Exec’s career (at another facility), someone came into the office (where staff members kept their purses during classes) and stole all of the purses. A locked front door would have easily prevented this incident.
Please note that these systems run on electricity, so having a key backup is necessary in the case of a power outage or if the keypad entry system fails for some reason.
Select your décor, paint colors, and thematic concept to fit your niche market within the dance industry. If you are a training facility for children, make sure your look and set-up is reflective of your mission. If you are a classical ballet conservatory, make sure your look reflects that, too.
Starting a dance studio (or relocating a studio) is certainly not an easy endeavor. It is a decision that should be thoroughly considered, weighed, and understood. Varying personal factors that should be considered are: personality type, business sense, life stability, income requirements, investment resources, personal willingness to commit, and a passion for business and/or dance. Most people would not open a clothing boutique if they did not love fashion, and the same should be said for dance studio entrepreneurs.
In starting a dance studio (or expanding your current studio), you must find your niche location and market. This section of the guide will cover all of the factors involved in choosing and up fitting a space for your current or prospective dance studio. In terms of your success, location is everything!
Finding Your Ideal Property
To begin searching for commercial property, it is a best practice to consult a commercial real estate agent. The agent will represent you and will protect your best interests throughout the process.
In searching for a prospective studio spot, it is important to consider the following items:
How much space (think square footage) do you need for your dance studio? How much space can you support with your anticipated student base and financial resources? Will the studio be a one-room facility, or will it have multiple studio rooms?
In planning for the studio, consider the following spaces:
When looking at spaces and considering prospective floor plans and layouts, as much space as possible should be dedicated to the actual studio areas. This is the primary selling point of your facility and will be the most used, income producing space.
Is the space you are considering zoned for your intended use? A real estate agent or landlord can clarify an area’s intended use and zoning.
Lobby space should be kept to a minimum. The lobby does not need to be a large space for parents to loiter, as that encourages gossip and detracts from studio space.
Office space, bathrooms, and storage should be kept to a minimum, but be sure that they are adequate enough to accommodate your needs.
Does the space have adequate parking to accommodate the number of clients you hope to have at your studio? Be mindful that you will likely need a spot for every person at your studio at any given time, including: students currently taking class, students transitioning to the next class, and staff vehicles.
The bottom line is that you need a spot for every single person that might be in attendance at the studio. Extra parking is always a plus—people will never complain if there are too many spaces, but there will be complaints if there is not enough parking.
You may also consider having a student drop off area, so parents can drop off and pick up students without utilizing a parking space. In considering this option, you want to ensure that someone that may take too long in the drop off area will not interrupt the overall traffic flow.
A well-designed parking/drop off area can be one less thing for parents to stress about when coming to your studio.
Since dance studios frequently involve children, it is absolutely imperative to consider the safety (actual or perceived) of your location. Ask yourself if you would feel comfortable leaving your own child in a particular locale?
You can run the best studio in the world, but if it is not a great, safe location, people will hesitate to bring their children. This could cost you business! And, while the price of a less than desirable location may be appealing, this is not an area to skimp on your budget; rather, you should invest in being in a better part of town.
When considering locations, investigate your neighbors and see if that fits into your ideologies and overall theme. A great place for a primary location might be in an area with a fun park, a children’s preschool, and a music center. You would not want to open your facility in an area that was surrounded by bars or other non-child friendly venues. Be alert, and think of how parents may view your location and presentation.
The cost of a visible location is expensive, and ultimately you will pay more rent. But, you will compensate the cost through blatant marketing. If your location is centered in an area that supports a lot of drive-by traffic, your facility will constantly be on the forefront of your community’s mind.
Keep in mind that convenience is a primary factor for people joining a dance studio (or any extracurricular activity). Make sure your locale is near prospective clients and reflects the mentality of the neighborhood. Some dancers will come to you because you run an excellent program and train great performers. But, the bulk of your students (and, consequently, your income) will result from people that are taking dance because your activity is convenient to their home. Make sure that where you decide to put your studio is near a solid base of prospective clients.
Consider what nearby, prospective clients want in a space. Are you near a country club with high expectations for their children’s extracurricular activities? Be sure that your space reflects the mentality of the neighborhood and fits in with your potential client’s expectations. If a competitor (dance studio, gym or otherwise) has a considerably nicer or more visible facility, how are you planning on competing?
5. Nearby Anchors
As mentioned in the safety segment, knowing the businesses that surround you can greatly impact your business, positively or negatively. Know the resources that will be surrounding you and how you can use them to benefit your business. Being near a popular landmark can help your business when providing directions. Also, if you are near a school or another complimentary business to your target market, this can be highly beneficial. People appreciate surroundings that are familiar.
6. Feasibility of Meeting your Opening Goals / Timeline
It’s important to consult with your landlord/contractor to ensure that they can meet your opening goals with construction permitting, up fits, etc. It’s important to initiate the beginning phases of starting a dance studio with the highest levels of professionalism and organization.
The Bottom Line
Your dance studio’s outward appearance will make a huge impression on your clientele. Take the time to provide the best possible environment and regularly evaluate areas for potential improvement. Make sure your facility is cutting-edge, safe, and the appropriate environment for your dancers to thrive.
With the Thanksgiving holidays coming to a close, the holiday countdown is ON! Here are some fun, culturally diverse holiday music tunes to incorporate into your classes for the remainder of the month.