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Dance Gear and Decorations: Part 3 of the Studio Start-Up Guide

dance gear and decorations

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.

Flooring

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.).

Mirrors

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.

Barres

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.

Sound System

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.

Décor

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.

Studio Start-Up Guide

Part 1 of the Studio Start-Up Guide deals with the basics of Starting A Dance Studio.

Part 2 of the Studio Start-Up Guide deals with Dance Studio Floor Plans and layout design.

For those of you getting serious about starting a dance studio or looking to make some big improvements, you can also download our NEW E-Book, “Dance Studio Ideas and More: The Official TutuTix E-Book” absolutely FREE!

Chasta Hamilton Calhoun

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!).