We are still trucking through the COVID-19 crisis and salvaging our businesses. But we have more knowledge than ever and gain more with each and every day!
It’s 2021, and that means it is time to GET IT DONE.
One of my favorite quotes is:
“You can’t talk butterfly language with caterpillar people.”
This year, are you a butterfly, or are you a caterpillar? The choice is in your hands and will be based on the actions you take NOW.
The days of feeling defeated are over.
Now is the time to shift frustration, exhaustion, and discontent into strong and effective leadership tactics that will pay off in the long run. What contingencies are you setting in place to make sure your programs generate revenue and run creatively, safely, and in alignment with your brand?
Have you considered that:
Competitions may not happen
Recitals may not happen in their traditional sense
Travel opportunities may have to be postponed
Shipping and the supply chain may continue to face delays/disruptions (aka get those costume orders in ASAP!)
Instead of waiting and watching and having another off-the-rails spring semester, take this into your control, and create opportunities for your clientele to heighten the return on investment of your brand.
Prioritize YOU and align yourself with third-party vendors that help instead of hurt your cause.
It may be easy to say
“I don’t know what’s happening, so I can’t do that.”
“This is so out of my control.”
“I don’t have the energy to do what I used to do.”
These are all excuses, and they are excuses that will ultimately hurt your business.
Leave the excuses in 2020 and start figuring out how you CAN make things happen.
Set the Schedules
Use Project Timelines to Keep You On Track
Hit the Deadlines
Apply for the Funding
Meet With Your Staff
Keep Your Clients Looped In
Build Excitement for The Things That Are Coming
While it may not be identical to the way we’ve formerly operated, it is important to generate a confident, forward motion that embraces the resources and opportunities we have.
FIND YOUR MOTIVATION
If you’re feeling stuck in a rut, find some sources of inspiration.
We all know the song “Seasons of Love” from the musical RENT. It asks, “How do you measure, measure a year?” If you’re like me, many of my minutes in 2020 were measured through processing, applying, and mitigating public health information, applying for grants and funding, and spinning on the hamster wheel of the global pandemic while keeping my small businesses sustainable (hello, anxiety).
While a light switch isn’t going to make 2021 this immediate, magic wonderland of yesteryear, it gives us the opportunity to move ahead with insight, focus, and control over how we are spending our time and maximizing our productivity to guarantee our success into the next season and beyond!
INVENTORY YOUR TIME
We are closing out a year unlike any other. Like Elsa says, “the past is in the past—Let it GOOOOOOOO.” Whether you’re guilty of too much doom scrolling or simply feel paralyzed in the unpredictability of each moment, it is important to know how you are spending your time.
Time is your most valuable resource.
This is one of my favorite productivity exercises, which can also be shared with your staff and team.
Pick a day and set up a table in 15-minute increments.
Document the way you spend each 15-minute segment.
Review how you’re spending your time and consider ways you may be misusing your time (aka “trim the fat”).
MAKE A PLAN
It only takes 21 days to form a habit. Once your time inventory is complete, honestly ask yourself:
Is this time well-spent?
Does this make me feel good?
Could this be delegated?
Am I using my time in a way that motivates my personal and professional goal forward?
For items that need to be extracted from your daily routine, take action (this includes micromanaging, which is easy to revert to during a crisis). Lock your phone in a timed jar, set an intentional schedule for multitasking, and set aside time to make sure you are healthily recharging and energizing. Do what needs to be done to get YOU back on track.
STICK TO IT
Frequently revisit the way you are spending your minutes. This way, you’ll make sure you aren’t falling prey to former bad habits. If you find yourself feeling guilty that you’ve missed a journal entry or haven’t read as much as you’d like (I’m talking about myself here), make the moves to get it done.
Write it down: Keep your schedule in a planner, digital or electronic, and track your time.
Have an accountability buddy: Pick a team member or friend to help hold you accountable.
Celebrate: When you successfully acknowledge and make small changes, they can have a huge impact. Acknowledge them!
Remember, more minutes = more you can accomplish! As you move through 2021, this will be important as we continue to regain momentum and rebuild.
Looking for more great ideas from Chasta? Check out the following articles:
It’s the most wonderful time of the year? If you feel like you’re crawling into 2021, you aren’t alone. Crisis leadership is exhausting, and we haven’t had a break since March. With holidays feeling unusual amidst an escalating pandemic, the heaviness may continue to weigh on you during this festive season. Now is the time to take a breath, inventory where you stand, and prepare for the push forward. You’ve made it this far, and you can make it to 2021 and beyond!
TAKE A BREATH
Give yourself space. When the adrenaline and/or fear kicks in, it can be easy to feel reactionary, stressed, angry, out of control, and /or frustrated. Using the tips below, monitor your self-awareness and give yourself permission to breathe.
Monitor your health: exercise, stay hydrated, eat healthily, and sleep!
Have non-professional hobbies: find a new project, skill, or activity, and dig in!
Seek inspiration: make sure you aren’t becoming paralyzed to the new reality, seek inspirational sources.
Monitor your time: do you find yourself doomscrolling or plunging into the wasteland of social media? Be mindful of how you’re spending your time.
Reach out: talk to friends, other businesses, and maintain your connections.
Self-advocate: skip the gathering, decorate for Christmas early, do whatever you need to do to protect your well-being.
INVENTORY WHERE YOU STAND
Now is a great time to review the months behind us while looking forward to the future. Make sure you aren’t only looking to the immediate future. Continue your long-term strategy, as well.
Continue to mitigate: keep your studios and classrooms as safe as possible through consistent messaging, cohesive leadership, and standardized enforcement. Remind your community that it is a shared responsibility to keep the community safe.
Recognize your accomplishments: celebrate your pivots and recognize the fact that you have worked really hard to get to where you are today. Take a minute to reflect on what worked, what didn’t, and how you can learn/grow from this experience in the future.
Do the numbers: this may feel painful, but it is necessary for your financial planning and projections. What’s your percentage compared to past years? How long can you sustain?
PREPARE FOR THE PUSH FORWARD
While you may want to stop, don’t. Keep going, keep planning, and keep dreaming. Never lose sight that YOU create and inspire magic!
Create contingencies: There’s no need for surprises or panic-inducing situations at this point. Create contingencies and work smartly, so you do not have to rework strategies or plans.
Think beyond the pandemic: When this subsides, what do you want your business to look like? How will you continue to grow, scale, and serve your community?
Involve others in the conversations: Lean into your team, a mentor, a therapist, and/or a leadership coach to help you navigate the now and the future.
Stay optimistic: optimism isn’t the same as always being positive. Keep your outlook in check and remind yourself that you have the power to influence others.
Looking for more great ideas from Chasta? Check out the following articles:
Attending the United Dance Merchants Association’s (UDMA) yearly costume shows can be a beneficial and fun experience for any studio dance owner. You’ll have the opportunity to learn about new costume trends and get to see the latest styles in person. You’ll also be able to learn about a number of studio-related products and services that can help make our life easier.
UDMA even offers educational opportunities with renowned dance professionals on a variety of topics. If this is your first time attending a UDMA event, check out the tips below to make your first experience a success!
When it comes to attending one of the large UDMA shows held each year, it’s important to be prepared. These events allow dance professionals to get insight on upcoming costume trends and do some groundwork for recitals and performances. The shows include information and vendors beyond costumes, too—be prepared so that you are ready to make the most of it!
Bring a big bag or, even better, a rolling suitcase. You’ll be happy you have it after receiving lots of catalogs, giveaways from vendors, and samples.
It’s important to dress smart. As you run around from vendor to vendor, you won’t have a lot of time to sit and take a break. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes to keep you on your feet. You don’t want to have to end your visit early because your feet are blistered and sore.
Bring cash for coffee, snacks and lunches. These events last the whole day, and if you’re enjoying yourself, you don’t want to have to go far to find food and drinks.
Print off a sheet of address label stickers with your name, studio name, address, phone and email. If you want to request more information from a company or enter one of the many giveaways offered by vendors you can simplify the entry process by using your stickers on the entry forms.
From the UDMA Website https://udma.org
Check Out the Seminars
During the three sessions this year, UDMA will be offering five seminars that dance teachers and studio owners can attend. This year, there are THREE business seminars (open to studio owners who may register their staff) and TWO movement seminars.
And the lineup of speakers is impressive! Steve Sirico of DanceTeacherWeb.com. Suzanne Blake Gerety of DanceStudioOwner.com, and the man himself, Rhee Gold will each present a business seminar in each city. Anthony LoCasico of Taplife and Tricia Gomez of Rhythm Works Integrative Dance will each present the movement seminars.
This year, TutuTix will be visiting the various sessions of UDMA to talk costumes, recitals, and more. Look for our booth – it’s hard to miss (look for the sparkly pink shiny wall!)
We’ll even be hosting a surprise item giveaway: earlier this year we gave away iRobot Roomba’s to lucky guests! Stop by to pick up some goodies and sign up for our big giveaway.
Talk to People and Have Fun!
Before you get there, visit the UDMA website to find out what vendors will be attending your local event. Make a list of the booths that you’re really dying to see so you know where to go as soon as you arrive.
As you see dancers in the latest costumes, don’t be shy! Approach them and ask them to move around in their attire so you can better understand the look and feel of each costume.
Something to note: photography isn’t allowed at this event. So be sure to bring a notebook to help you jot down what you like to help you prepare for this year’s dance season.
Want to do some exploring? DanceInforma has some cool ideas for how to make the most out of your travel experience while at UDMA.
Bullying seems so senseless and unnecessary. And yet, it still occurs in seemingly all environments. It happens at school, extracurricular activities, via social media, and, yes, even from members of the dance team at competitions. Social media outlets has removed accountability and personal connectivity from today’s youth, allowing them an impersonal way of criticizing and degrading others in a very passive manner.
I have heard stories of bullying occurring at dance competitions for the past few years. But, it wasn’t until recently that I actually observed negativity at an event.
Via social media, an older student from one studio’s dance team was blatantly criticizing much younger students from another studio. Using that message, the older student had other dancers joining in the conversation, and it felt so unnecessary and inappropriate.
What do you think made this student feel as though this was an okay choice?
Respect and Appreciation at Competition
As instructors, we have to instill values of respect in our students. These values should transcend the studio classroom and reach other studios, peers, and life endeavors. Our values become our lifestyle, and I would like to think that studios would never condone this kind of behavior.
Most competitions and conventions encourage appropriate behavior. I appreciate and applaud the steps they’ve taken to guarantee students are learning and growing in a nurturing, supportive environment. Studio owners, parents, instructors, students, and peers have to support and encourage that mission, too.
Ultimately, we are all in this together. And, personally, I know that I want every dance experience to be positive, meaningful, and productive for each and every one of our students.
Dance Spirit featured an article in 2011 entitled Beat Bullying, which discusses the issue from an in-studio perspective. It’s just as relevant to think about bullying in regards to outside events and encountering other studios.
At the end of the day, we have to lead by example. That way, we make sure our students are aware of their choices, actions, and consequences. We are all working hard, striving to do our best, and encouraging our students to grow. Each individual is on his/her own dance journey, and we have to be respectful and supportive of each dancer’s work and achievement.
As J.K. Rowling said: “It is our choices…that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
Let’s make the choice to be kind. After all, we’re all in this together.
Last year, we decided to adopt a “Studio Mascot” for our studio and competitive team. Since we were attending Nationals in New Orleans, we selected a fun-looking alligator, named her Louise, and dressed her in dance-like attire (yes, we actually went shopping for a stuffed alligator).
We introduced Louise to the studio with the following poem:
I am proud to say “Hi there,
my name is Louise.”
I am a pretty little dancer
from Stage Door, if you please.
I hail from a southern city.
You may know it as New Orleans,
A city with lots of culture
Known for its Mardi Gras scenes.
You may be thinking
You’ve seen me before in a bog
But you’re thinking of my brother
from Princess and the Frog
I was so busy dancing
While my brother played his trumpet
They wanted me in the movie,
But I had to dump it!
I love ballet, tap and jazz,
theatre, acro, and hip-hop!
I love every style of dance,
And I doubt I’ll ever stop!
I am thrilled to be a part
Of the family at Stage Door
I will be your mascot, your friend
and so much more!
I will travel to competitions
with the Stage Door Elite
I will cheer real loud,
and stamp my feet!
At the end of the season
In July of twenty thirteen,
My journey will continue at Nationals
down in New Orleans.
I’ll show you my stomping grounds
and we’ll have fun
Riding in swamp buggies
in the hot summer sun.
After the summer,
I might choose to stay
at the studio in Raleigh
to laugh, dance, sing, and play.
So let’s start this adventure
And become great friends
We’ll work hard, practice,
and be a team to the end!
Louise had such popularity that smaller mascots began popping up at competitions:
Our studio families and students LOVE Louise! The students enjoy seeing her at events, and they are always eager to sit beside her, hold her, and take pictures with her.
Louise even had a starring role in our Spring Recital:
So, how can you create dance studio mascots for your team/studio?
Select something that ties into the theme/mission/culture/events of your studio
Tailor the mascot’s presence to reflect your brand
Promote the dance studio mascots to your studio and students
Be imaginative! Creativity is what brings a mascot to life.
The mascot brought a great level of camaraderie to our team and studio last year, and we are excited to begin Louise’s adventures this year. Select your mascot, and join in on the fun! It will add a little magic to your season. 🙂
I often hear the debate of what age is acceptable for a child to begin performing. I firmly believe that the earlier young dancers can start performing, the more comfortable, self-confident, and present they will become as performers and artists.
At my studio, I am completely comfortable putting a 3-year old student onstage for the annual performance (taking show times and performance length into consideration, of course). I first performed at 3-years old, and I remember absolutely loving the experience. When I am feeling nostalgic, I will find the VHS (and the VHS player) and watch the playback (anyone remember toast shiny tights?).
Younger students are so capable and uninhibited, and I think too many instructors (and, perhaps, even some parents) underestimate their power to learn. If you instill disciplined habits and work ethics in students at a young age, they will really excel in their training dance training.
Obviously, there are proper teaching methods and philosophies for younger students that are developmentally in-line with their physical and psychological maturation. These students should be nurtured, loved, and taught in a way that will allow them to develop a proper passion for the art.
And, performing at a younger age can mean many different things. Obviously, the expectation is not that a young, 3-year old will perform double pirouettes, extensions, and aerials. Rather, the accomplishment lies in the completion of the task.
Some of a young student’s accomplishments may be: standing on stage and not crying, forming the circle in the routine, knowing where to stand, remembering to smile, finishing a routine, or feeling proud of themselves for accomplishing a goal.
With each opportunity, the child will feel more comfortable and progressive in his/her capabilities and performance. The growth is truly rewarding for everyone involved in the process.
Getting Older Students to Start Performing
As a counter observation, for students that begin performing in their pre-teen/adolescence, it is more difficult to instill performance qualities since they lack the extent of early exposure to the stage and performing. As students age, they become concerned about others’ opinions of their projection, which usually translates to being more nervous, apprehensive, and tense when asked to perform and project onstage.
Of course, students’ projections can be fostered and improved, regardless of age, but, for students that are truly interested in performing, the younger a student can start acquiring the culture of the performance environment, the better. Then, the act of performing becomes second nature.
Certainly, younger students’ performance capabilities are dependent upon maturity, personal readiness, and level of interest. This philosophy is not a blanket standard; rather, it is something to consider for students that are young and ready for the performance experience. Do not write off opportunities simply because of a child’s age; rather, see how you can further ignite their passion and interest in dance.
You have the power to offer students opportunities to grow and blossom, regardless of age, and that is a tremendous gift and reward of being a dance educator. Let’s use it!
(This is a recital picture in the dance scrapbook I created in high school. This pic is from my second recital; I was 4 years old.)
(This pic is of one of my students. He has been performing on stage since he was 2 years old. Now 6, he absolutely loves the performance experience. We are fortunate to have many students at our studio that feel the same way. Words cannot begin describe the pride we feel towards our young, tenacious, passionate performers!)
I truly believe dance is for everyone, and can move everyone in some capacity- as an observer, as a mover, or as a dancer. As dance educators, we have the opportunity to build programming that is accessible to everyone. Once students are a part of our programming, we have an obligation to serve them to the best of our ability.
When a studio culture transforms into statements of regularity such as “those kids aren’t good”, “he/she will never be an overall winner”, or “so-so refuses to dance with so-so”, it becomes a danger zone. It compromises our mission as educators to create a positive infrastructure that focuses on building the art of DANCE through technique, style, acceptance, and diversity.
As educators, we must take the lead. Our leadership is required to promote the accessibility of dance for everyone.
Our art is not elitist- it does not require Olympic level ability for success and impact. Rather, it requires time, patience, love, and nurturing.
Then, you create a dancer (in whatever capacity that may be), and you also build a relationship that will far outlast a student’s tenure at the dance studio. That’s impact.
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!
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:
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:
TutuTix is pleased to announce the addition of content from The Dance Exec into its content library. For several years, The Dance Exec (www.danceexec.com) has been an excellent source of training and knowledge for dance studio owners as they grow their business and strive to provide excellence in dance training. As Chasta Hamilton Calhoun, the founder of The Dance Exec, directs her focus to her thriving dance studios, the incredible studio owner resources that the site has offered through the years will find a new home as part of the TutuTix blog, which covers topics of interest to dance studio owners and teachers in particular, and the dance community in general. From time to time, Chasta will continue to contribute to the blog in her ongoing role as a studio owner (and TutuTix client!). The addition of these incredible resources is just one more way TutuTix can help dance studio owners build a successful business. Check out the first article from The Dance Exec archives today: 101 Marketing Ideas & Strategies for Dance Studios
As I travel the country talking to studio owners the question I hear exchanged more often than any other is some version of: “How big is your studio?” I understand the motivation behind the question and have asked it several times myself. I believe the enrollment size questions are motivated by a few things:
We are all just trying to figure out how our studio measures up with the rest of the world.
“Am I big?” “Am I small?” “Am I normal?” We really just want to know that we are doing okay.
We want to find other people like us. It makes sense that I might face the same challenges and benefit from the same solution as a studio of a similar size.
But the number of students you enroll is far from a complete picture of your actually enrollment.
If you are looking for a more complete picture of your enrollment, keep reading for 3 Ways to Measure Your Dance School Enrollment:
Student count is the easiest measurement of enrollment. Simply stated: “How many students take classes at your studio each week?” But for a more accurate picture of enrollment consider tracking the following information:
The term “units” refers to the total number of classes, or spaces in classes, that are filled each week. Here’s a little story problem to help you see the relationship between student count and units. Imagine that you have 200 students and your studio offers 50 classes per week. There are 10 spaces available in each class, which mean that you have 500 units of class for sale. If your 200 students each take one class, you would have an enrollment of 200 students taking 200 units of class. However, imagine that those same 200 students take an average of two classes per week. Now you have 200 students taking 400 units of class per week. Financially speaking that is a much healthier situation for a studio owner. Same number of students, but a completely different outcome for the owner.
The term “structure” refers to the shape of your enrollment. A “triangular enrollment,” with lots of little ones at the bottom that slowly tapers as kids get older and explore other activities, is normal and healthy. However, sometimes the structure of an enrollment can become a little more “rectangular.” This starts out as a good thing because it means more dancers are staying longer, but if you find yourself in a situation where you have as many older dancers as young dancers, it may be time to work on building your preschool program. If you don’t, you might end up with an “upside down” enrollment where you have more older/competitive than younger/recreational students and that is not a stable enrollment.
And then there is “Stress Factor.” This is term I use to describe the relationship between enrollment and “workload.” For example, several studio owners of large studios have shared that they feel they are doing too much work for the end result. On the other hand, I know some studio owners with smaller enrollments who feel like what they earn and the work required are aligned. It’s important to remember that not all enrollment is created equal. Some programs are easier to manage than others. Some programs are very labor intensive. As you seek to grow enrollment, the value of the “Stress Factor” cannot be underestimated.
So where are you this year with your enrollment goals? Now is a good time to take a closer look at the relationship between Units, Structure and Stress Factor to make sure you are building a business that is in alignment with how you want to spend your time and energy.
Looking for more great dance studio enrollment tips? Check out
With competition season, you’re probably in a whirlwind of costumes, choreography and cosmetics. Hopefully you’ve coordinated all these different aspects of your team’s performances to really impress the judges, but don’t overlook one of the most crucial aspects: the dance competition music.
Sure, you could go with a classic like “All that Jazz” or “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” but you might see some peoples’ eyes glaze over when they’ve already heard it three times that day. There are certainly a number of overused songs that you’ll hear at competitions – here’s a handy list from the Dance Exec – so spruce up your routines this year with unique, infectious music that will have the crowds on their feet.
1. Consider Age Appropriateness
If you’ve been competing for a number of years, you’ve likely seen a great dance team get cringes from the audience because their music crossed a certain line. While “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke is certainly catchy and has a fun beat, the lyrics aren’t something that parents want to see young dancers connecting with.
Always take the age of your performers into account when choosing music for their performances. It’s best to steer clear of songs with overly suggestive or mature themes – there are plenty of clean options to choose from!
2. Stay Away From Top-40 Songs
Top-40 songs are a go-to for many choreographers, but you can bet that hundreds of other studios have the same idea.
Stand out from the pack by choosing tunes that will make your performances unique!
Whether you choose an “oldie” or a track that hasn’t made it to the radio yet, you’ll be putting your team in position to give a one-of-a-kind performance.
3. Make Sure Everyone Loves It
You may love a certain ’60s rock ballad, but if your dancers aren’t keen on the music, their performance may fall a little flat. Work to find music that both you and your performers enjoy. After all, you’ll probably be hearing it 500 times or so before the competition, so it’s better if everyone likes the tune.
4. Look for Must-Haves
Once you’ve whittled down your choices to a handful of appropriate, under-utilized options, you can rule songs out by looking for certain must-have characteristics. Your song should be easy to cut down to the right length, and it also needs to have a strong beat and proper tempo.
You’ll also want to consider how the music fits into the genre your kids are performing in. When you take these aspects into account, you’ll be able to pick the perfect song!
The school supply lists are posted at Target, the mailbox is filling up with registration paperwork for my children’s schools and Facebook is blowing up with pictures of kids in backpacks. It’s officially time for back-to-school and that means it’s time to get serious about back-to-dance!
As a studio owner, I’m a big fan of observing what the local schools do and taking my cues from their systems. For example, we do our registration for summer classes when the local school opens theirs. We offer parent teacher conferences just like the schools do and we follow their model for teacher training as well.
Most studio owners consider themselves to be in the business of training students, but the strongest studios I know understand that they are in the business of training teachers as well.
Here are 5 tips to step up your teacher training this year with Dance Studio Teacher Staff Meetings that ROCK:
Timing is everything.
Time is the most important commodity we have. Make your meetings few and powerful. I meet with my full time leadership team once every two weeks and the entire staff once each quarter. Our bi-weekly leadership meetings are about 1.5 hours in length and our quarterly all-staff meetings are three hours. Bi-weekly leadership meetings focus on weekly operational issues such as scheduling, weekend events, student concerns, ordering costumes, dress code, equipment and tracking classroom progress. Quarterly meetings are centered on important times in our dance season: back-to-school kickoff in August, recital planning in October, parent-teacher conferences and competition details in January and preparing for the two biggest events of the year—registration and recital—in April. Respecting people’s time and hitting the most important parts of the season are two keys to having successful staff meetings.
Remember that there are three parts to every successful meeting.
The most successful meetings we have address three areas:
Take our Back-to-Dance meeting for example. A big part of this meeting is informational in nature—reviewing schedule changes, turning in contracts and going over employment handbooks. But, the real purpose of this meeting is inspirational. Back-to-school is a time for your teachers to remember why they became teachers in the first place and to set new goals for the year. The last part of a successful meeting is instructional. The best teachers never stop learning, so take advantage of this time together to teach your team something new. It could be as simple as getting everyone in the studio to decide what preparation for pirouette is going to look like for all the classes at your studio, or it could be a short teaching on time management or customer service.
Develop a theme for the year.
Every year at my studio we have an overarching theme that helps us focus our activities. One year when we were in a high period of growth our theme was “Every Student, Every Class.” The idea was that even though we had become a larger studio we wanted every student in every class to feel the warmth of personal and positive attention. This year our theme is “Energize Enrollment” because we have set some ambitious enrollment goals for the upcoming season. At each of our meetings we talk about how we are measuring up against the theme that we have prioritized for the year.
Celebrate what you want to elevate.
Staff meetings are a great time to “lift up” what you want to “build up.” For example, one of our core values is service so I give shout outs at our meetings to staff members who have recently gone the extra mile for their colleagues or our clients. If dress code is something that is important to you, give some public praise to a teacher who exemplifies that. We even have an old-fashioned star chart to measure teacher progress just like you might see in a Kindergarten classroom. Our teachers are broken into teams and the teams can earn stars over the course of the year for things like being in dress code, attending meetings, turning their music in on time, helping colleagues by subbing, etc. Our teachers love it and get silly-competitive over earning stars because they know prizes will be handed out at the next meeting for the leaders.
Bring the fun!
Most people equate the word meetings with the word boring, so find ways to break it up with some fun.We once kicked off a meeting by tossing a ball from person to person asking them to share one thing we would never guess about them. Who knew I had one staff member whose mom is Australian and another who rides a Harley?! We have also broken it up by giving out dollar-store type prizes for our star chart winners and tossing out small candy bars for those who could answer pop questions about schedule or policies. When the meeting is about recital, we bring food to keep them fueled during the planning process. The idea is to make doing what you NEED to do something that they WANT to do.
How about you? What do you do to make your staff meetings worthwhile for teachers and owners alike? Leave your ideas in the comments below. Have a great season kick-off everyone!
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The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.