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Tag: dance studio management

Falling ≠ Failure: Three Steps for a Graceful Recovery

dancer in leaves

As dance educators, we know how GOOD it feels when our students persevere. Whether it is the music cutting out during a performance or a brave recovery after an unexpected fall, we champion and encourage their resilience, in rehearsal and in performance. 

In our industry, we’ve surpassed the year benchmark of COVID-19 shutdowns and challenges. As we continue to move into the future, we need to ensure we are championing ourselves and our teams as we continue to make decisions that will determine the future success of our studios. 


During the pandemic, we’ve had a lot of things happen to our industry. In the beginning, it was scary, unsettling, and unknown.  While it can be easy to feel victimized and vulnerable, NOW is the time to take control of your circumstances and set yourself up for future success. 

  • Every day, we gain more knowledge. We have to use it to propel ourselves forward.
  • Keep in mind that the pandemic affected EVERYONE in different ways. Avoid making excuses and be empathetic in hearing others’ stories, as well. 
  • Inventory your systems, protocols, and operations and make sure everything is operating at your expected level of excellence. If you disagree with something or it doesn’t fit or contribute to the growth and development of your business: Change it! 


As things slowly start to normalize, be prepared to pick up the pace. 

  • Because there have been many months of atypical operations, prepare yourself, your team, and your students for the upcoming change of pace. 
  • As we prepare for performances, be prepared to re-educate students, families, and staff on the expectations, especially since there may still be modifications in place. Communication is key. 
  • Do not delay scheduling and enrollment cycles. Be ahead of the game. 


Over the past year, many people have formed new habits, some good and some bad. Offer training sessions to reinforce positive behavior within your community. 

  • For Goals: Are you ahead, on time, or behind?
  • For Self-Awareness: Are people making positive contributions to getting your studio back on track or are they hindering the pace/ development of the brand? 
  • For Health (Mental & Physical): Are you taking care of your mind and body? How are you supporting your return to performance? 
  • Lead By Example: Let your actions positively motivate your people. 

Keep in mind: the windshield of your car is bigger than the rear window of your car for a reason. Know what is behind you, but keep your focus forward! 

Give yourself grace for the trips and stumbles of the past and invest your energy into doing what we do best: changing children’s lives through dance! 


Looking for more great ideas from Chasta? Check out the following articles:

Chasta Hamilton is the Owner/Artistic Director of Stage Door Dance Productions in Raleigh, NC. She authored the best-selling book Trash The Trophies: How to Win Without Losing Your Soul. Later this spring, her TEDx talk “You Weren’t Built to Break” will debut, combining her passion for performance with the necessity of resilience. 

Follow Chasta on Instagram at @chastahamilton or @stagedoordanceproductions or via her website www.chastahamilton.com.
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6 Best Practices for Interviewing Job Candidates

6 Best Practices for Interviewing Job Candidates

When I first opened my studio over 20 years ago, I had a big learning curve when it came to all things human resources-related—interviewing, hiring, firing, payroll, benefits, and everything in between!

One of the biggest lessons I learned right away is that hiring great people for my team was a lot of WORK, especially when it came time for interviews. It was not always easy to discern who would really be a good fit for the team and it took way more preparation than I thought! But just like with dance, practice makes progress, and I’ve made a LOT of progress.

I’ve also discovered that I really enjoy providing meaningful career opportunities for others. Watching people flourish in their roles at the studio is one of the most fulfilling aspects of running a business! And it all starts with getting the right people on board in the first place, which means making sure the systems behind the interview process are in top-notch shape. With that in mind, I created this list of 6 Best Practices for Interviewing Job Candidates, and I hope it will serve your studio as well as it has mine!

Implementing these ideas has had a profound effect on my hiring choices and continues to inform my decision-making when it comes to bringing new people to our team. Keep reading to see my 6 Best Practices for Interviewing Job Candidates.

Here are my 6 Best Practices for Interviewing Job Candidates:

  1. Consider a pre-interview screening

Before you begin a series of interviews, think about implement one more step: the pre-interview submission.  This could be done by asking the applicant to complete a short questionnaire via email, having them leave a voice message, or upload a video introduction.  Any of these methods will allow you an additional screening before taking the time to meet someone in person.

  1. Use the first interview as a simple getting-to-know-you meeting

Don’t expect to get too much done in the first face-to-face interview.  What do I mean by that? Well, use that meeting a little like a first date: ask basic questions, read the candidate’s body language, and do a gut-check on whether you think they would be a good culture fit for your studio.

  1. Always interview at least twice, probably more

I am a big proponent of “hire slowly, fire quickly,” meaning that if I’m going to invest the time, money, and energy into hiring for a position, I want to be very sure that we’re bringing in someone who will be the right match for that role.  Rushing the process only risks potential problems. For example, an initial interview, lunch or coffee interview, and a sample class interview are part of my go-to process for hiring new teachers.

  1. Ask open-ended questions

Remember that asking questions that begin with “What,” “How,” or “When,” can be great openers into deeper interview questions, such as “How would you handle this type of situation?”  Other great questions can come from prompts like, “Tell me about a time when …” or “Describe your experience with …”

  1. Find out what the candidate knows about you

Ask what research the candidate has conducted on you or your studio; someone who is very interested in the job and does their homework will probably have a few things to say!  I always like hearing from candidates who share what they like about the studio or have questions about our programming, because it shows their curiosity.

  1. Take good notes—and not just about their answers

Remembering every little thing a candidate says in an interview is probably not necessary, but I do like to be able to review my notes days later and get a sense of my instincts at the moment.  For instance, I’ll make note if the person was extra-prepared (or not enough), if they dressed appropriately, if they were on time, and if any of their behavior during the interview requires further questioning.

Once upon a time, I thought owning a dance studio was all about dance … but of course, it’s about so much more!  And one of the most rewarding parts is hiring amazing people for your team. It isn’t always easy finding those people, but with these best practices in place, you can feel more confident than ever that the right candidate is just an interview away!

Looking for more tips for hiring an excellent staff? Check out the following articles:

The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.

More Than Just Great Dancing


4 Keys to Growing Enrollment in the Spring Semester

Growing Enrollment

Growing enrollment seems to be a hot topic at almost ANY dance studio seminar I speak at or attend! It seems like even studios who have maxed out many of their classes are still looking to increase their leads and prospects for future enrollment, which I think is super smart. My studio itself, like so many others, is actually in a growth phase … one of our goals is to optimize our programming to attract even more dance families who believe in our mission.

Whether your studio is jam-packed already or has room to grow, you can’t go wrong with continuing to build relationships and involve more kids in your programs. Relationships lead to trust, and when you build trust, you build your business! By offering a variety of ways that parents can experience your studio, you are opening up more than one “door” of opportunity for their kids.

Even though the fall enrollment rush is over, the momentum at your studio doesn’t have to stop! Enrollment can keep going all year long if you can find the sweet spot of what works best at your business. Tap into your studio’s strengths by using my 4 Keys to Growing Enrollment in the Spring Semester!

Here are my 4 Keys to Growing Enrollment in the Spring Semester:


  1. “Closing the gaps”
Your studio, like mine, probably has classes where there is a gap between current enrollment and maximum enrollment.  Between now and February (our recital cutoff date), I prefer to focus on closing the gaps for specific classes that I know will be great for newcomers, like beginning hip hop or a preschool ballet class.  I notify my team of these classes to target, and they direct prospects there. I believe the key to a successful “closing of the gap” is finding just the right dance families … have your team identify prospective parents and children who are eager to start class right away and have expressed strong interest in participating in the recital.


  1. Hosting dance camps
Camps aren’t just for summer!  That’s my philosophy anyway. We offer one-time, themed camps that parents can sign their children up for throughout the year.  You could easily come up with a series of themes for camps like this and have a weekly or monthly offering. With a nominal fee or no cost at all, dance camps let folks “try before they buy” in a low-pressure, fun way.  For us, this bite-size way of trying dance often leads parents to enroll their children in other programs, since they’ve formed a relationship with us and learned to trust our interactions with their kids.

  1. Creating mini-mesters
Mini-mesters are a series of regular classes offered in short sessions, usually anywhere from four to eight weeks.  For us, they allow families to try out our dance classes without a school-year commitment, and without needing to invest in the recital.  I’ve even seen some studio owners package mini-mesters with all-inclusive pricing, where you might include the classes, dancewear, shoes, and a summer dance coupon in one affordable bundle.  At my studio, we’ve also seen great success with our mini-mester students “graduating” to a school-year class the following year. Mini-mesters are an awesome stepping stone for the commitment-shy parent.


  1. Adding brand new classes
Does your schedule have an opening here or there?  Adding a brand new class to your schedule can seem risky mid-year, but it won’t be if you do your homework.  Look at your enrollment numbers to see which ages and/or class styles are most popular. Then comb through your class schedule to see where you have classroom and teacher availability for a new class and determine your break-even enrollment number.  Reach out to your current clientele for referrals and advertise the class’s start date to your existing waitlist. Bonus: if you can still fit the class into your recital, do it! Find an in-stock costume and promote the picture of it along with the class information … sometimes a sparkly tutu is all it takes!

PS Don’t forget the adults. We just added an Adult Tap class and it’s going like hot cakes!  It’ might help that my sister has been recruiting in the lobby, but it really goes to show that students can come from all places.

Looking for more great ideas to help with growing enrollment? Check out the following articles:

The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.

More Than Just Great Dancing