The recital program is a staple of the annual recital experience. An usher hands you a program, you settle into your seat, the house lights go down and it’s time for another great show. The recital program isn’t just a way for the audience to keep track of the show order and who performs in each dance, it’s also a lifelong keepsake for families and a perfect messaging and marketing platform for dance studios. Here are some tips on how to have a successful and profitable recital program this year!
DO: Sell Program Ads Having a recital program without selling program ads is a missed revenue opportunity! Every penny counts when it comes to owning a dance studio, and recital program ads are an easy way to increase your recital income, pay the studio’s summer rent, or even use it to take a vacation this summer (imagine that)!
DON’T: Send the Program to print without proofing Be sure to check over every piece of the recital program before sending it to the printer. Check over the spelling of dancer names, the show order, and make sure that no one is missing. While proofing the program yourself is important, don’t let your eyes be the only ones to catch mistakes. Have a few staff members or parents help you proof the program. They will be sure to catch errors that you’ve missed – it’s understandable, we’ve looked at the same pages so many times, a fresh set of eyes are needed!
DO: Shop around for printing prices Just like you shouldn’t buy the first car you see; you shouldn’t say yes to the first printing quote you receive. It’s important to shop around for the best printing prices. You’d be surprised how much printing costs can vary. Get quotes from local print shops and online national printing chains. When comparing quotes, make sure you are comparing apples to apples; print costs will fluctuate based on page count, paper size, color vs. black and white, paper weight and quality, and binding. Don’t forget to factor in turn-around time, tax, and shipping costs into any quote you receive.
DON’T: Concentrate on Selling Full-Page Ads Only Program ads are typically priced by ad size. Instinctively, full-page ads cost the most, while smaller ads cost less. An easy trap to get caught in is to focus your energy on selling as many full-page ads as possible. At first glance, that strategy seems to make sense: sell as many of the most expensive product as you can. However, it’s important to think of each page of your program as a piece of real estate. The printing cost is the same no matter what is printed on the page. If you sell full-page ads for $100, half-page ads for $60, and quarter-page ads for $40, you would make $160 on a page with four quarter-page ads, while making just $100 with a full-page ad. That’s 60% more–with the same printing cost! By all means, sell full-page ads to whoever will buy them, but smaller and more affordable ads will be easier to sell and will get you higher revenue in the long run.
DO: Advertise Your Program Ad Sales Utilize the same creativity and energy you would put into advertising your dance classes into advertising your program ad sales. Although you are selling a product to an existing client, rather than a new one, the same marketing tactics still work. Make sure everyone knows that program ad sales are going on. Send out emails, post on social media, and have posters up around the studio. Make sure the ad deadline is super clear. Parents will naturally wait until the last minute to purchase their program ads, so don’t worry if the sales are slow to start. Pro tip! Have copies of last year’s program around the studio for parents to browse for quality samples, message examples, and design inspiration. If this is your first recital program, feel free to make your own “sample ads” to give people an idea of what to expect and some ideas on how to make their own ad special.
Follow these tips for a successful recital program that will be a lifelong keepsake for your dance families as well as a profitable recital revenue driver for your studio!
Growing up in the studio family business, Joe Naftal is the marketing director for Dance Connection in Islip, New York, and the CEO of the Penny Prima® brand. Joe has taught seminars, classes, and workshops for dance teachers and studio owners from around the world, has been on the seminar faculty of the Energize Conference, the Dance Teacher Summit, the UDMA Dance Teacher Expos, and has been a contributor for DanceStudioOwner.com and Dance Teacher Magazine. He is the author of Standby in the Wings, which has been sold across North America, the UK, and Australia, and is the creator of Check In Pointe and RecitalProgramAds.com. As an advocate for arts education, Joe serves on the Board of Directors for Robin Becker Dance and CM Performing Arts Center. Aside from his work at the studio, Joe is a lighting designer and production manager for classical and contemporary theatre, modern dance, ballet, and opera. He holds a BFA in Lighting Design from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.
Recital Season is upon us! For most dance studios, this is “the big game” in our industry. It is an opportunity to build community over a shared interest, celebrate your students’ progress, and impress your clients. There’s no better marketing tool than an efficient, polished, and purposeful recital experience!
In order to make it happen, you have to (1) be prepared in your organization and leadership, (2) you have to communicate expectations and standards in advance, and (3) you have to follow through.
Below are 3 tips that have helped us immensely in curating an amazing Recital Weekend Experience!
THE RECITAL ROOKIE
For many in the dance industry, the concept of a dance recital is second nature. This likely is not the case for the majority of your clients. Often, they are new to the recital experience, or at the very least, they may be new to your studio’s systems and processes.
Your clients are also probably busy and juggling a million things. They may miss an email, feel overwhelmed at the thought of making a bun, or misinterpret the correct way to put on a recital costume. That’s okay!
It is easy to react with frustration, but this season, shift the perspective and approach your clients with empathy and understanding. It will go a long way in building client loyalty!
We’ve helped educate Recital Rookies in the following ways:
Personal posts that are counterintuitive to your professional/personal brand
Language that may seem degrading to another studio or program.
THE DIGITAL EVOLUTION
Outside of the strategies listed above, consider how you can use digital opportunities to create a more interactive, modern experience for your clients.
A few ideas include:
Make sure studio sound stations/equipment are appropriate for modern technology
Implementing easy ways for families to enroll and pay for programming.
Transition from printed program books to digital program books
Create marketing materials that showcase well in digital content
Revise/ modernize your Recital Photography + Videography Procedure
Create a studio-wide motto/hashtag that generates brand consistency between digital and actual platforms
Looking for more great ideas on how to Rock Your Dance Recital? Check out the following articles:
There is no doubt that this time of year for studio owners can be hectic and, let’s face it, a little crazy! With recital on the horizon, class placements being prepped, and audition details coming together, it’s not surprising that you may begin to physically feel the effects of stress of the busy season.
I went through far too many years of entrepreneurship knowing this season was coming and yet not quite prepared for it to the degree I should have! Now that I know better though, I do better. And one of the best ways I do better is by understanding that yes, it will be busy, and yes, I can still take good care of myself. And I encourage YOU to do the same!
It’s so easy to get swept up into stress and let it overtake your mindset. But you know what’s also pretty easy? Making a plan to relieve that stress by having a few simple tactics in your pocket. Here, I’m going to share my best tips for thriving in the busyness of your life. These are all things that help me tremendously at this time of year, and I hope they will serve you well too!
Here are my 5 Quick Ways to Recharge During the Busy Season:
Commit to self-care in the morning
The morning can often dictate how the rest of your day goes, so decide now that your mornings will be proactive for your peace of mind. Spend a few quiet minutes in meditation or prayer; edit your to-do list; read one chapter of an inspiring book; brew your favorite coffee or tea; move your body through some gentle stretching or yoga. Have a ritual in place—even a short one—that will encourage you to start the day with your best foot forward.
Go outside at least once a day
A few deep breaths of fresh air can change your entire frame of mind when you are caught in the whirlwind of busyness. Don’t trick yourself into thinking that you should go all day at your desk with only a few stretch breaks. Try to block out 15 minutes here and there to step outside, walk around the block, and enjoy a change of scenery. You may be surprised at how refreshed you feel!
Connect with friends who understand
I personally think this is one of the best ways to combat the weariness that can accompany long work days: human connection. Our tendency as entrepreneurs is to isolate ourselves when we feel stress when really it’s much more helpful to reach out to others! Maybe you don’t have time for a long heart-to-heart phone call, but sending a quick text or email to check in with a friend can give you a burst of energy AND put a smile on your face.
Fuel up with your favorite things
When you’re in busy mode, don’t let yourself fall into the trap of poor nutrition habits! Stock up on your favorite healthy snacks, treats, or meals to keep you going. Now’s the time to splurge on the protein bars you crave, the smoothies with extra vitamins, or maybe even the meal delivery service you’ve been meaning to try. Your health can’t be taken for granted at any time—and most especially when you need to be on your A-game.
Give yourself a chance to wind down
Resist the urge to completely crash at the end of the day. Your evening routine should allow you the chance to center yourself and relax. As hard as it is to do, put your phone and computer in another room to charge, and focus on yourself and your family before turning in for the night. Your mind will feel clearer and more rested to take on whatever’s next.
Recharging during this time of year can be a challenge, but if anyone can accept a challenge and overcome it, it’s a studio owner! I want you to feel encouraged that this season of “busy” can also be a season of “health” if you are committed to it. I know that for me, this time of year now holds more excitement than stress because I’m able to look out for my well-being in a way I didn’t know how to do before.
If you have another method of recharging that works well in your life, share it in the comments below! I would love to hear what helps keep you fueled, prepared, and nourished during this time of year. I wish you much success as you charge full-steam ahead into the coming weeks!
Looking for more tips keeping your sanity through the busy season? Check out the following articles:
We recently teamed up with Jackrabbit Dance for a webinar on how to produce a more profitable recital. Check out the recording above or read through the main points below for tips on how to financially improve your biggest production of the year!
Three BIG Ideas to Make Your Recital More Profitable
Is it okay to make money on your recital?
How do you collect money for your recital?
Recital fees: 38%
Ticket sales: 62%
Do you sell your tickets as reserved seating?
Recital Fee vs. Online Sales
Many studio owners ask: “Should I charge a recital fee or just do ticket sales?” The answer is BOTH. The recital fee allows you to capture revenue at the beginning of the dance year, but a ticket sale presents an opportunity later in the year to maximize your profits in ways that add value to the experience of your performers and attendees.
And that leads us to BIG Idea #1…
Big Idea #1: Bundle and Sell Online
Consumers spend more when they use a credit card than when they make purchases with cash. You can present merchandise purchase options with your ticket sales and customers will be more likely to buy, especially if they perceive that there is a bundle.
Big Idea #1: Bundle and Sell Online, cont’d.
All of our clients who sell merchandise online in advance report higher merchandise sales, with some reporting a 2x increase over previous years when they would accept cash only at the event. In addition, online sales enable you to more closely approximate the amount of merchandise you need to have on hand, so you have less inventory that goes unsold.
Big Idea #2: Inventory Management/Reserved Seating
Recognize that your seats are your inventory, and sell them in the most appropriate way to make more money. Seats in the front are worth more than seats in the back. If ticket buyers complain about a change in prices this year, explain that prices for the seats in the back are the same, but seats in the front are worth more, and therefore cost more.
So, why should you price seats according to their value?
Better experience for the ticket buyer = higher perceived value.
Offer perks for more loyal families.
Increases urgency to get the ticket = you get the money in hand sooner.
2016 Per Ticket Data
Reserved seating is a type of seating setup in which the ticket buyer can choose specific seats they want to sit in. Now, why is this important?
The average price paid in 2016 for a general admission ticket to a dance recital nationwide was $10.80, vs. $14.03 for a reserved ticket! That’s a 30% difference!
2016 Per Ticket Data, cont’d.
Moreover, the average gross per event with general admission seating was $1,715, while the average gross per event with reserved seating was $5,370! Don’t leave money on the table!
Big Idea #3: Generate Leads
Owners put forth an inordinate amount of effort into producing a recital, and most of the time, the only people exposed are the ones who already know how great their studio is! That’s such a waste! Your RECITAL is a prime opportunity to SHOWCASE your studio to prospective families and the community.
Invite “warm” prospects to your recital
Donate tickets to community charities
Leverage local schools / end of year activities
BUNDLE and sell online
Manage your INVENTORY wisely
Use your recital to GENERATE LEADS
So you want to sell tickets and merchandise online—now what?
TutuTix: The Easiest Way to Sell and Distribute Tickets to Your Dance Performances
How It Works: Step 1 – You Sign Up Online
It’s easy to get started with our easy online sign-up form. We just need some basic information in order to set up your events, including:
Your event info
The ticket prices
The date you want your tickets to go on sale
Your seating chart (if you plan on using assigned seating)
Your dedicated relationship manager will walk you through the process and help you fill in the blanks, and answer any questions you may have. After we have your information, our staff sets up your event, and you’ll get a final opportunity to review your event before we make tickets available to the public.
How It Works: Step 1 – You Sign Up Online, continued.
Codes? Comps? No Problem! With more than 1,200 clients nationwide, chances are, we’ve done every kind of presale setup there is. We can do:
Reserved seating, general admission, and mixed reserved/general seating.
Promo codes, discount codes, and comps.
Shopping cart for multiple performances or merchandise sales.
How It Works: Step 2 – Patrons Buy Tickets
When your tickets go on sale, your patrons can buy them:
Online at tututix.com/yourstudioname
On their mobile devices
From our toll-free call center
How It Works: Step 2 – Patrons Buy Tickets, continued.
For reserved seating, online ticket buyers can select their own seats with our easy-to-use seat selector.
How It Works: Step 2 – We Deliver Tickets
To Your Patrons – Your patrons can choose to get tickets delivered instantly to their email or smartphone or to have souvenir tickets mailed to them. Tickets are mailed out immediately and usually arrive within one week of purchase.
And to You – A few days before the event, we print any unsold tickets on the same keepsake ticket stock and ship them directly to you for FREE as part of our Door Ticket Kit so that you can have tickets on hand for door sales.
You Get Paid Weekly
We deposit ticket proceeds into your account weekly, giving you the flexibility to use those funds when you need them.
Your patrons can choose to have full-color, foil-embossed barcoded keepsake tickets mailed to them. We even print the dancer’s name directly on the tickets! Tickets are mailed out immediately and usually arrive within one week of purchase.
Customizable Print-at-Home Tickets
Our print-at-home tickets are customizable! You can promote upcoming classes, workshops, or performances, or even sell advertising to your event sponsors!
Door Ticket Kit
Our FREE door ticket kit makes it easy to sell any remaining tickets on the day of your event.
There’s nothing more satisfying than the feeling you get when your studio is thriving! When the hallways are buzzing and the classes are full, you feel such pride in having grown your business to a successful place. But it’s not all sunshine and daisies, of course. Success can also mean growing pains in every facet of your business—especially at recital time.
As your studio gains families and dancers, you will inevitably need to decide how to present your recital in the best way possible, which may mean adding shows as you grow. The single 90-minute performance that worked well five years ago might no longer be a reasonable option if you’ve doubled your student count since then. While there’s no magic enrollment number that equals two shows (or three or four!) there are certain factors you can consider in your planning process.
If you are at the tipping point, keep reading to learn about the four factors to consider when deciding whether to add a second show for your recital:
Here are the four factors to consider when deciding whether to add another show for your recital:
Your enrollment vs. the number of seats at your venue. Take a look at your current student count and compare it to the number of seats available for you to sell. If each student brought two guests, would you fill all the seats? What about three or four guests each?
My takeaway when it comes to available seats is that you a) want your customers to invite as many guests as they want, and b) you don’t want to risk selling out of tickets. Turning people away not only feels bad for a studio owner, it’s just not great for business (I’ve been there and wouldn’t want to go back!).
The total length of time for a show. If your recital is over two hours (including intermission), it’s time to consider adding another show. If Disney can’t keep our attention for more than two hours in a movie, then we probably can’t keep an audience’s attention for longer than that either.
To forecast what this year’s recital length would be like, look at the number of routines your recital has and how long each routine is estimated to last. Total up that amount of time and add in a minimum of 30 seconds per routine as a buffer, plus the time you allow for intermission, announcements, or any other presentations. That should give you an accurate approximation of how long your show would be.
An ideal number will be under 120 minutes. We’ve gone to as many as six shows in the past and then cut back to five shows to try to make things easier on the staff. But the shows got too long, so guess what? Back to six shows we go in 2019.
Backstage organization. Think about your venue’s backstage area: are your students feeling cramped in their dressing rooms? Do they have to wait long stretches of time before they dance on stage? A yes to either question might be a sign that it’s time to branch out to an additional show.
Ask your staff and volunteers what it’s like backstage from their perspective. Sometimes all the organization in the world won’t help if there is simply not enough space.
Customer feedback. If you haven’t already done so, survey your customers about their previous recital experience at your studio. Ask questions like:
Were you able to get the tickets you needed?
Was the ticketing process painless or panicked? Was the length of the show too short, too long, or just right?
Did your child have a good experience backstage?
These answers will be useful for you to evaluate as you are making recital decisions, and they may nudge you toward adding another show if the feedback tells you that it was hard to get tickets or the show felt too long. Understanding the recital from your customers’ points of view will be helpful, so offer the survey with an open mind and a willingness to make changes.
As you make recital plans and decide how many shows to present, look at these four factors as your guide to the best path forward. Most studio owners I know are always in pursuit of a perfect recital plan so the day can run smoothly and customers are pleased with the experience. While perfect may not be practical, I do believe excellence is always within reach!
In the comments below, tell us how you plan to proceed with recital this year, or what you are thinking about doing differently. You can also connect with me on social media @mistylown to continue the discussion of recital shows. In the meantime, I’ll be cheering for you as you plan for the big show!
Are you looking for some more recital tips and ideas? Check out these other articles and resources from Misty:
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!
Want to make your recital picture days as efficient as possible? Pre-plan the classes’ portrait poses, so that they can be immediately prepared when they enter the photo room. There are several things to think about when planning your studio’s recital photos. But, if you put in a little preparation you’ll save yourself stress and save everyone time on the day of recital pictures.
Timing and Location
When are you going to have your recital pictures taken? Will it be at the dress rehearsal, or on the day of the recital? Will you be having your dress rehearsal at the performance venue?
Answering these three questions will determine a lot of things about your recital pictures: the scenery and setting, how much time you’ll have to get good pictures, if you’ll be hiring the photographer for one or two nights.
Let’s say you take your recital pictures the night of the dress rehearsal, and have access to the performance venue.
This means that your advance work might mean going by the venue and picking a good spot for photos, and scheduling the pictures as part of the evening! The only downside might mean the cost for the photographer for an extra night (unless you have a package deal that includes recital pictures and performance pictures).
With some good logistics and planning with your teachers, you can have one group of dancers taking pictures, and then heading for the stage so that there aren’t any dancers (and parents) sitting and waiting.
If you take your recital pictures prior to the recital but don’t have access to the venue, you can be a little more flexible in your setting! But, timing is important: having pictures on a night where all dancers are required to be there (like the dress rehearsal) helps to ensure that all of your dancers actually attend. As far as the photographer, it’s the same situation: are they charging by the night? As a package? That’s up to you and the photographer to figure out.
If you take your recital pictures on the night of the recital, at the venue, you’ll be in great shape to have everyone there, and in a great setting! Keep in mind that you’ll be in a little more of a time crunch, since parents/family/guests will be eager to get into the venue space. Plus, even if you take pictures somewhere different than the stage, dancers will be easily distracted by their family members. Preparing recital pictures will probably be the MOST helpful in this kind of situation.
Depending on the age of your dancers, the simpler the arrangement, the better. Your goal with these recital photos is to make sure everyone’s face is clearly visible. Very basic setups put taller dancers in the back, shorter in the front. From there, you can arrange dancers in a way that shows off costumes, featured soloists, etc.
Depending on your agreement with the photographer, you can ask them to come by the studio to help with this planning. They might be able to offer some creative tips to make your recital pictures really pop!
Even if your professional photographer can’t make it to a planning session, you might know that one of your dance parents enjoys photography, and might be able to help out as well.
Make notes and keep track of every class’ designated position. When it’s time for the official photo shoot, make sure your studio representatives have access to and knowledge about all of the poses for each of the pictures. While poses may be adjusted slightly to work for the camera, this will create efficiency, evoke creativity in the photographic composition, and save time.
*Editor’s Note: This piece is based on an article written by Chasta Hamilton-Calhoun of the DanceExec.
The experienced studio owner knows that putting on a great recital takes a lot of preparation, and a lot of quick thinking! Having the right supplies and tools on hand can make a tremendous difference for you and your staff. We’ve put together a list of (potentially) essential items that will help you have the best recital yet!
Oh before we get started, we’ll include a link to our Dance Competition Survival Kit. Reason being: think STORAGE. In the competition kit, we suggest bringing some kind of rolling container, bag, etc, that is easy to move around and easy to organize.
At the end of the night, you’ll want to be able to pick up all your supplies as quickly and neatly as possible. If you can opt for a few simple storage containers that are easy to move, it’ll save you so much time and energy at the end of an already-tiring evening.
Costume Fixes and Makeup Adjustments
It doesn’t get much more “last-minute” than backstage at the recital!! Having some tools to help you deal with last-minute makeup adjustment and costume fixes will help you do the best job you can before your dancers hit the stage.
Clean up kit (for any on-stage accidents…)
Body tape/butt glue
Nail polish remover
Hot glue gun
It’s so important to have clear communication with your studio staff, venue staff, and any volunteers who are helping to run the show. Clear signage, reliable ways to talk with one another, and lighting for a dark backstage are at the top of the list.
Headsets (instead of walkie talkies, so audience members don’t hear your chatter)
(Multiple) Printed Schedules
Signs for dressing rooms, age or class-specific rooms
Nametags / Buttons / Lanyards / Shirts for volunteers and staff to wear
There are a lot of moving parts (and moving people) at a dance recital. Thinking ahead and preparing to bring (or request that the venue provide) essential event items will keep you from those day-of “whoops” moments!
Fans (for a hot backstage full of moving people)
Extra Gaff tape (for when the first roll disappears somewhere)
Spike tape (to help dancers see their spots in the dark)
Fanny packs, aprons, or other extra-pocket items for your staff
Phone Charger (and outlet brick)
Extra Phone Charger (for when someone borrows the first and it never makes it back to you)
Backup sound system
Coloring books/crayons (for the little ones)
Binder clips (to close any curtains in a dressing area, etc)
Tables and tablecloths (for merchandise, studio marketing materials, admission)
Thank you list (so you don’t forget to thank anyone at the end of the night)
Everyone at the recital (yes, including yourself) needs to take care of themselves in the high-stress, fast-paced environment that is a dance recital. Snacks and beverages should be available for any dancers, as well as you and your staff. Plus, recognize that you and your staff will be moving around A LOT and should think about comfortable (but appropriate) attire for the night.
Presentation and speaking outfit
Water / Gatorade
Granola Bars* / Animal Crackers / Saltines
*Editor’s note: Several readers have mentioned their concern about bringing nuts due to possible peanut or tree nut allergies among the dancers. Be sure to consider any dancers or family members with nut allergies when deciding what to bring, and remember that some severe allergies can be triggered by contact with very small amounts of the allergen.
Are there any other items you’ve found that can really save the day at a dance recital? Let us know in the comments and we’ll add them to our list for other studio owners to see.
Please like and share this article if you thought it was helpful!
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.
Planning a big show takes a lot of time, and a lot of preparation. So, it’s important to get started early!
In putting together the Official TutuTix E-Book, we consulted several studio owners to get an idea of how and when they plan their recitals.
Take a look at the dance recital preparation timeline we’ve created below, and see how it stacks up against your current planning schedule!
According to the studio owners we worked with, these are some recommended checkpoints throughout the year to make sure you’re on track for a successful dance recital.
Use summertime to your advantage by preparing for next year’s recital now! But, keep an easy pace: you’re helping yourself by starting this early, so there’s no need to rush through these early planning sessions.
By August, try and have your music for the recital chosen, even if your choreography isn’t fully fleshed out yet. By having music picked, you can move more quickly to build choreography that fits the music’s narrative. Plan some specific choreography moves – start your dancers on their tougher moves from day one!
Also, go big this year and start planning your performance venue and booking a recital date. The earlier you get your location settled, the sooner you can focus on getting parents involved.
Build some of the tougher choreography moves into class warm-ups and technique sessions. Adjust your choreography to best fit your group of students.
October – December
Keep your dancers’ muscle memory and flexibility intact by continuing to practice the spring’s tougher moves. Come spring, you and your dancers will be pleasantly surprised by the progress that’s ben made all throughout the year!
Set up as much as possible for the final recital before you really dig in and start teaching final choreography. That means:
Finalizing Venue Details
If you can nail down the details early, only a follow-up is needed later in the spring.
February – March
Hopefully the logistics of your recital are mostly taken care of by now, and you’re in full teaching and dancing mode. Don’t forget to wrangle parent volunteers and have costumes fitted, but otherwise put your energy into your students!
Time to follow up with ANYONE and EVERYONE involved with your recital to make sure everything is in order! And, it can’t hurt to send out several final reminder emails to parents.
It’s biggest day of the year for your families. If your students are like mine, they are raring to go! And it’s easy to see why when you consider all of the hard work they have put in over the past year preparing for recitals:
30+ weeks of lessons
2-3 minutes of choreography for each dance
Costume measurements, fittings, exchanges and alterations
Group photos, recital tickets and t-shirts, flower orders and more!
In fact, for every minute of a dance that appears on stage, an average of 100 HOURS of preparation has already been put in before one sequin ever hits the stage. But before you sign off on your dance recital prep, I want you to put ONE MORE HOUR to make sure your recital day is GREAT.
Keep reading for 8 last-minute dance recital prep tips that will ensure you have the best recital day yet!
Schedule a production meeting with your staff
Communication is key to a successful show. Getting your staff together for a final round of show notes, last minute lineup changes and planning for prop transitions will help to avoid surprises during the show. This is also a great time to thank them for all of their hard work to remind them of the positive impact they will have on so many children on show day.
Assign specific staff duties
Make sure your team knows where every staff member should be and what they should be doing during pre-show, backstage, finale, dancer pick up and post-show clean up. Post these assignments backstage and provide printouts for each teacher.
Create signage to dressing and audience areas
Nothing makes parents more anxious on show day than not knowing where to go or feeling like they might arrive late. Help parents get their dancers to the appropriate pre-show gathering place by providing signage and friendly staff/crew members to personally guide the way.
Prepare info-boards for each staff member
Equip your team for success by giving them a clipboard for each show containing all all pertinent show information. Be sure to include all costume information for each class as new parents are likely ask ANY staff member for help, not just their own teacher.
Identify quick changes or back-to-back numbers
Notify back stage crew of any tight spots in show flow that may require changes backstage. Prepare the emcee ahead of time to plan on engaging the audience a little longer between numbers in the event you have back-to-back numbers for any dancers.
Build a backstage entertainment kit
Keep little ones busy while waiting for their turn including non-messy snacks, coloring books, movies and games. Parents will be more confident leaving their little ones in dressing rooms with your staff if they know they will be entertained while waiting for their turn to dance.
Coordinate a backstage show for the little ones
Giving the older students an opportunity to run dances before they hit the stage can double as entertainment for little ones waiting to dance. We call it the “backstage recital”!
Equip your staff to be able to figure things out
We have a saying at recital that says everything is “figure-out-able”. This means that my team has to ability to solve problems in all situations. Lost shoes? We can borrow from someone else? Costume left at home? We can put that dance later to give Dad time to run home? Communicate now that everything is “figure-out-able” if you work together.
Are you looking for some more recital tips and ideas? Check out these other articles and resources from Misty:
I remember it so clearly…during one of my early years of studio ownership, I was sitting at the kitchen table with my head in my hands, completely paralyzed and overwhelmed. We had just crossed into the month of April and there were SO MANY things that I still needed to do in order to get ready for our May shows.
The longer I sat there thinking about my growing list, the more I became convinced I could NEVER get it all done. That’s when my husband stepped in and did what all great husbands do when they see their wives unravelling right before their very eyes: he sent me to bed and said we would talk about in the morning. Smart man.
Morning came and with it returned my ability to see past the loose ends and make a studio owner dance recital checklist list to get things in order before the real show. And, I’ve been building and refining the list ever since.
Keep reading for 30 things you can do now to have a seamless recital experience four weeks from now.
Planning as it relates to students and families:
Schedule a photo day for groups (and individuals if necessary).
Begin rehearsals for any specialty dances such as Daddy Daughter, Opening Number, Finale or any dance involving new, or large, props.
Make a last call for rehearsal CDs or practice videos.
Make a last call for ads and corrections to the recital program book.
Place an additional order for tights, shoes and undergarments for those who outgrow or lose theirs before the show.
Distribute information regarding how families can order or receive recital videos.
Host a “Costume Construction” and “Hair and Makeup Day” where you provide assistance with alterations and where older company members can teach younger dancers how to do their hair and makeup.
Announce “In-Studio Dress Rehearsals” where students will do a full run through in costume, hair and makeup right in the studio during the last week of classes. This allows all costume questions to be addressed before heading into “Stage Dress Rehearsals” and saves valuable time on stage.
Distribute all pertinent information regarding “Stage Dress Rehearsals” including rehearsal times, costume items needed, makeup and arrival and pick up instructions.
Coordinate any extra rehearsals for classes that may behind on choreography at this point or classes that may be combined due to low enrollment.
Planning as it relates to staff and teachers:
Finalize the show order and copy edit the recital program book one more time so that the files can be sent to the printer.
Order recital t-shirts for all those who pre-ordered, plus a 20% overage for interest that will surely come up at the show.
Have a planning meeting with teachers to coordinate backstage roles and responsibilities for staff and crew.
Have a meeting to set expectations and provide training for ushers, parent volunteers and child care helpers.
Plan activities to keep kids entertained backstage such as coloring supplies, games, movies.
Establish a clear system for dancer drop off and pick up.
Make name badges for staff and order recital crew t-shirts. Communicate dress code expectations for staff regarding rehearsals and recitals.
Make signage for venue. A “Dancers: This Way –>” sign will give first time families a sense of belonging and direction as soon as they get to the theater.
Make reservations for sub sandwiches or other meal options to be delivered to the theater on heavy rehearsal nights or show days for your staff.
Assemble an emergency kit for the theater including first aid supplies and extra safety pins, bobby pins, hair spray and makeup. We also include shout wipes, a sewing machine and a steamer.
Planning as it relates to vendors, community partners and venue:
Email tech sheets to the theater including headcounts, entrance and exit information, costume descriptions, music files and lighting requirements for each number.
Finalize any music licensing or insurance certificates needed for rehearsals and recitals with the appropriate agencies.
Arrange for a local flower company to sell flowers at the show.
Arrange for delivery of recital t-shirts and program books directly to the venue.
Order any other recital swag you may be interested in selling or providing, such as recital bears, bracelets, trophies, awards or “Step and Repeat” banners for the lobby.
Get a report from TutuTix regarding your ticket sales and make a decision about what you want to do with unsold tickets. We donate a percentage of our unsold tickets to students at the Boys and Girls Club and Big Brothers, Big Sisters each year. Senior citizens also appreciate the opportunity to see a show.
Send invitations to important community leaders encouraging them to come see the big show and celebrate the accomplishments of the students.
Submit a press release to your local media outlets and community calendars.
Hire a photographer to take shots during rehearsal or recital that can be used at a later date for publicity or marketing for your studio.
Write thank yous and put together care baskets now for your those who will be helping you to put on an amazing show for kids and community.
Do you have other ideas? Please send your ideas to MistyLown@gmail.com. I would love to hear what you do at your studio! Blessings for a GREAT show!
Download a printable version of the Studio Owner Dance Recital Checklist here:
Of the many hats studio owners wear, one of the most important ones is that of a marketer for our business. In fact, if you think of all of the ways you have marketed your studio over the past year you will probably be surprised to find out just how much time is spent promoting your studio to the next generation of dancers. When I reflected on my studio’s marketing initiatives over the course of this school year I came up with a long list including: printed brochures, postcards, Facebook ads, free trial classes, free dance days, community performances, camps, workshops, master classes, birthday parties, field trips, print ads in the local parenting magazine and various community partnerships.
But if you are only marketing to the public you are missing one of the most powerful marketing tools of all: re-selling to your existing client. Various studies report that it costs anywhere between five to seven times more to attract a new client than to re-sell an existing client. And there is no greater opportunity to re-sell the value of being a part of your studio to your families than the upcoming annual studio dance recital.
Make the most of your annual studio dance recital by adding these 5 Easy WOWs to make a great day-of experience for both dancers and attendees:
Tell your story
The recital is a great opportunity to tell your story either in a welcome letter at the beginning of your recital program book or laced throughout the show announcements. For example, if one of your core values is being family-friendly, take time to highlight some of the ways a studio becomes like family. Ideas include having seniors share what it meant to them to grow up at the studio or including quotes from parents and students in your program book. If academic achievement is one of your core values, take time to highlight how your the discipline of dance is helping your students to achieve in the classroom.
Go full service
There are a lot of details that go into planning recital including rehearsal times, picture information, show details, costume instructions and hair/makeup directions. While it’s important to have all information on a master document, it’s even better to deliver JUST the necessary information so that parents, especially first time parents, don’t have to wade through hundreds of lines of information just to find the few details that apply to them. Whether you present this info digitally or a hand out, parents will appreciate this concierge approach.
Greet them at the door
Nothing says “We’re happy you are here!” like actually having someone at the front door of rehearsal and recital actually greeting families in person. At rehearsals we have a rotating team of teachers greeting students at the door and showing them where to go. At recital, our teachers move from the greeter position to the backstage and dressing posts and I take the lead on greeting families. Every year I hear from families, especially new ones, how nice it is that the studio owner is accessible. Recital is likely the only time of year you will see every parent in one weekend so this is your chance to get personal and thank them for being part of your program.
Double down on details
Over the nineteen years I’ve had my studio I have found that more parents arrive at our rehearsals and shows each year with less preparation. We do our best to combat this trend on the front side with great information, but still we will have parents show up to rehearsal without the proper tights and costumes that need attention. We’ve turned this trend into an opportunity to serve families and provide some WOW with our “Emergency Table.” The emergency table is a place where we can solve most of the common problems of rehearsal and recital. We have a sewing machine, a steamer, extra tights, shoes and makeup. If it’s broken or they haven’t bought it yet, we can fix it. Our Emergency Table has saved a lot of tears over the years.
Adopt the phrase: “Everything is figure-out-able”
Even with the best of planning you are going to run into issues once the curtain goes up, so have your team adopt the mentality that “everything is figure-out-able!” Did a child forget their shoes? No problem, we can borrow a pair from another student. Missing headpiece? No worries, we can come up with a solution. Did something major happen backstage? No need to stop the show if you can calmly switch the order of a couple of dances. Issues and challenges that happen backstage should never become the audience’s worry. Just remember, “everything is figure-out-able”!
So give these a try! Make the most of a marketing opportunity that you already have and create an even better recital day for your dance families.
Are you looking for some more recital tips and ideas? Check out these other articles and resources from Misty:
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:
How many times have you wondered, “What did that song just say?” or “What does this song really mean?” If you are unsure about the meaning of dance lyrics or the content of a song, it is likely that the song should not be played in your dance classes or used for a performance/competition routine (and, if something is questionable, research the answer).
Many popular songs that receive radio play are pushing the limits of appropriateness with insinuating, suggestive, or inappropriate dance lyrics that are not appropriate for children. In a similar vein, songs that are played in your high school classes may not be appropriate for six and seven year old dancers.
One resource we found was songmeanings.com, where you can search for songs and research what the content is actually talking about.
Take the time to find class music that is age appropriate for your class composition. Err on the side of caution and make choices that will positively influence your student base.