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:
Competitions are an exciting experience, but competition preparedness is key. Because without it, they can be an incredibly stressful time. As a studio owner, staff member, or parent-volunteer, you have the responsibility to relay detailed information, expectations, and general reminders of preparedness to our parents and students to ensure a pleasant, positive, and organized experience for everyone.
Prior to competition season even starting, it is important to prepare and distribute a competition overview packet. This packet should detail all the expectations for the regional events of the season. This includes costume checklists, call times, and responsibilities. It provides parents and dancers a detailed overview of what will happen at the event, what they should expect, and appropriate etiquette. When you receive the schedule for an event, it is a good idea to re-type it so that parents explicitly understand call times, locations/directions, and performance times. The information is beyond thorough and strives to provide more information than necessary.
Key steps to help guarantee competition preparedness:
In January, offer a hair and make-up seminar where parents style hair and apply make-up. This way, everyone has a consistent look (and the appropriate products) for a successful competition.
At the event, submit your music in an organized, timely manner. Stomp each of your CDs with your logo and organize all of the CDs (in entry order) in a CD book. Prior to the weekend, test each of your CDs for any scratches or playing issues. The back of the CD book contains back-up CDs for the routines, and as a backup, it may be wise to also carry all of your competition music on an iPad or another MP3-enabled device. The CD book lasts throughout the season.
In post-competition rehearsals, debrief the event by discussing appropriate competition etiquette and utilizing the competition feedback. (some studios have made a point to attend competitions where the feedback is constructive)
Take responsibility for transporting any large or group required props.
Competition preparedness at the competition:
Be on-site for your students’ call times and performances. If the studio has representatives at an event, it is most important that there be some form of studio leadership/liaison at the event, too.
If you have a question about an event, ask, usually in advance. You never want there to be an “unknown” regarding a weekend. Of course, if there is information you feel as though you are missing, reach out and ask someone. Assuming that the company is professional, they will be happy to help.
If a concern, incident, or issue arises on site, take the time to handle it calmly and professionally. Everyone is working together to make this a wonderful experience for our students. There is no need for stress, tempers, or panic. The hours are long and the environment can be stressful. But if you put yourself in the proper mindset, the experience will be more rewarding and productive for everyone. Be kind to everyone!
Competition Preparedness Conclusion:
Ultimately, being organized, calm, and in control, as a representative of your studio (whether you are a studio owner or instructor), will help ensure that your students and parents will follow your lead. Likewise, if you are unorganized, frustrated, or uncertain, that mentality will convey to your parents and students.
The competitive experience is an opportunity for each of your students to grow and improve, as dancers, performers, and people. Therefore, it is important to make the event positive, encouraging, and constructive.
Finally, take the time and ask yourself if you are doing everything in your power to guarantee that your parents and dancers are fully prepared for competitive events? We are always evaluating and evolving our systems and methods to make sure that everything is efficient, informative, and functional for a successful weekend.
Check out some of these articles focusing on preparing for dance competitions:
About seven years ago I was a partner in a business that managed five daycare centers. It was an excellent learning experience, but one lesson continues to rise above the rest:
The concept of “break points” in enrollment.
And, this is how I learned that 9 students are less profitable than 8!
Curious about this math? Keep reading for an explanation of way break points are crucial for a profitable dance class size.
Daycares have very strict rules regarding student-teacher ratios by age. For example, for five year olds students, the ratio is 1:8. Practically speaking this means there can only be eight students in the care of one teacher. Financially speaking this means that enrolling eight five year olds is very profitable for daycares because they have maximized their income opportunity for the hour of paying the teacher.
And this leads to the concept of a “break point”.
If enrolling eight students in a day care is optimal, enrolling nine students destroys profitability because the daycare center will have to open an additional classroom and hire an additional teacher for just ONE student.
It simply doesn’t make sense for a daycare center to add that additional expense for just one student. So they manage their risk by closing enrollment until their waiting list builds to 5 or 6 names before committing to open another classroom and hire another teacher.
The lesson of the “breakpoint” caused me to look at my “always enrolling” philosophy at the studio a little closer. I found that although our enrollment was “bigger than ever” our bottom line wasn’t reflecting that growth. Digging a little deeper, I found we were running several classes with a small number of students that would’ve been better served to be combined into fewer, but more fully utilized, classes.
Have you ever felt like you were working harder, serving more students, yet making less profit? If so, now might be a good time to take a closer look at your enrollment distribution as you start planning classes for next year. Just remember the lesson I learned from my time in daycare management: Be careful about crossing breakpoints. Fewer, fuller classes is better for the bottom line.
Looking for other enrollment-related tips? Check out:
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
Nearly all dance teachers will agree that the barre work is an integral part of ballet practice. However, what many teachers don’t agree on is whether it’s better to do the same set barre work every week or different combinations.
This very topic got lots of attention in the forum Ballet Talk For Dancers, where one user asked whether other members preferred a set barre with little variation, a few different set barres that are alternated or different combinations done in each class. Many members were vocal about their preferences – read on for a breakdown of the debate.
The set barre, or the repetition of the same barre movements in every class, is found in several major ballet teaching methods such as the Cecchetti, Paris Opera School and Bournonville methods, the book, “The Ballet Companion,” noted. The advantage of this old-school approach is that heavy repetition of the same movements helps dancers focus on improving technique, isolate problem areas and improve their muscle memory. As the book mentioned, it also saves time in class because the teacher does not need to use up time explaining a new combination. A set barre can also be especially helpful for beginner students, with one forum user noting that it helps her novice students gain a sense of mastery before moving on to more advanced movements.
In the Ballet Talk forum, though, a common complain against set barres was that it’s very easy for dancers to get bored doing the same movements over and over again. Which leads to the alternative …
Foregoing the repetition of set barres, some dance teachers adopt the combinations approach, in which they always teach a new series of movements at the barre each class. The major advantage of this method is that it helps dancers learn how to pick up new combinations quickly, making them better equipped to quickly grasp new choreography. As Dance Advantage noted in its article on memorizing ballet combinations, dancers need to be able to learn and perform ballet combinations practically at the same time, and a varied barre helps develop this skill.
Combination barre strengthens the “muscles of the mind,” according to “The Ballet Companion.” As author Eliza Gaynor Minden wrote:
“Picking up combinations quickly and adapting to different styles require versatility and overall mental agility, both of which develop better when challenged by variety and the occasional “brain twister” combination that moves in irregular patterns or rhythms.”
In the Ballet Talk forum, the consensus was that a mix of set barre and combination barre was the best option. Teaching a set barre but changing it every couple of weeks or so still helps students flex their quick-learning muscles while allowing them to focus on technique simultaneously. Dancers don’t get bored, their minds and muscles continue to be challenged and correct technique is still prioritized.
What do you think – is set barre, combination barre work or a mix the most effective teaching method? Let us know in the comments.
Only two weeks left to go before the recital – can you believe it? Your dancers are probably starting to feel some nerves, not to mention the stress you’re likely feeling as you run over in your head the zillion things you have to do before showtime.
Before you drive yourself crazy running around, take a breather and look at this checklist of the things you need to do over the next two weeks.
Host a Makeup Rehearsal
Whether it’s this week or next (before the dress rehearsal) make sure you hold a makeup and hair rehearsal for your dancers, and their parents if they want to join. A beauty rehearsal is a great way for novice dancers and the parents of younger students to practice how the makeup will be applied and how their hair will be styled. This way, you save the time going over the hair and makeup at the dress rehearsal, and there’s (hopefully) few or no questions before the actual recital.
It’s not just the newbies that need a beauty rehearsal, though. According to Dance Informa, even the most experienced dancers should attend a makeup and hair rehearsal before the recital, since this helps the dancers make sure that their hair and makeup styles are uniform and coordinated with the rest of the dancers in the group.
Have Recital Programs Submitted to the Printer
Recital programs are pretty much an expectation for dance recitals, as they help inform parents and patrons about the order of dances and the general timeline for the evening. At two weeks out, you MUST have your finalized program designs submitted to your printer to make sure:
You have a timely delivery of the final product
Any emergency issues can be resolved
Collect Pre-Orders of DVDs and Other Items for Dance Recitals
If you have the resources and manpower, it can be profitable to have a table at the recital selling performance DVDs, photos and other collectible items. However, collecting pre-orders a couple weeks before the event helps maximize profits and make sure every parent or dancer who wants the extras gets them. Send out emails and social media posts reminding parents to pre-order DVDs and other souvenirs and set a deadline for orders at least a week before the recital. You can use physical forms for orders, but online forms make things easy for both you and the parents.
Give Parents Detailed Drop-off/Pick-up Instructions
Dance Exec noted that it’s important that parents have detailed logistical information for the recital ahead of time. It’s a good idea to hold a pre-dress rehearsal meeting in addition to sending a detailed letter – over email is most convenient for the parents – that describes the drop-off and pick-up process, along with any reminders about ticket and DVD sales, costumes and other important dates and times, in addition to thorough directions to the venue if the recital is not held at your studio.
Need a letter or dance recital information sheet template? We’ve made an example sheet you can download and customize in Microsoft Word for your studio’s needs below:
Have “Day Of” Plans Finalized and Supplies Prepared
Two weeks before the recital – and in the week leading up to it – reach out to your volunteers to confirm that they will be helping out. Make sure you have enough volunteers to cover all duties. If not, you have time to recruit some last-minute helpers.
For some backstage organization ideas, check out this quick video:
Along the lines of volunteers, have all of your signs and backstage planning items printed/laminated/explained/etc. If you plan to have clear signs backstage that point to “Stage,” “Lobby,” “restrooms,” or particular areas of the backstage, have them done and checked off your list.
Michelle Spezio, director of Spezio’s Dance Dynamics in Buffalo, New York, shared a great tip with Dance Studio Life. She puts together boxes of frequently forgotten and emergency items like bobby pins, lip stick, hairspray, sewing kits, nail polish remover, tape, scissors and safety pins, and then places these boxes on either side of the stage and in dressing rooms. You should still remind dancers and their parents to bring their own back-up kits, but these boxes are much-appreciated insurance.
Your dancers could be able to perform their choreography perfectly in their sleep, but without volunteers, a recital just won’t be a success. There are so many moving parts involved with putting on a dance recital, from selling tickets to managing dancers backstage. The dancers, of course, are the stars of the show, but the event volunteers are the vital gears that turn to make the recital a true showstopper.
However, the combination of recruiting, organizing and handling volunteers during recital season is no easy matter. Maybe you have a hard time finding people interested in helping out, or conversely, maybe you have too many people lending a hand and don’t know how to effectively manage them all. And how do you make sure you make the experience enjoyable enough for volunteers that they’ll be eager to help out next year? Read on for some tips that will help you have success with recital volunteers this spring and beyond.
Who Makes the Best Event Volunteers?
Your first instinct might be to ask parents to work as volunteers at the recital. However, this approach can ultimately make the volunteer recruitment process more difficult for you. Parents already spend a large amount of money and time sending their students to your studio, noted studio owner Kathy Blake for DanceTeacher magazine, so it’s important to shift your idea of how parents can lend a hand.
The magazine suggested that you instead ask parents to be “parent helpers,” instead of traditional volunteers. Ask parents to help out with duties that involve helping get the kids ready for the show, since the fact that they get to watch their own children dance from the best seats in the house can be a big incentive for volunteering their time. Great jobs for parents include escorting the dancers to and from the stage or helping out with makeup and costumes.
For the rest of the volunteers that you’ll need, check in with community service organizers at local schools and community groups. Alumni of your dance studio also make great volunteers, since they already know the ins and outs of putting on a recital and are usually eager to return to the studio and see some friendly faces.
For all types of volunteers, the best recruitment approach is to spread the word that you need volunteers through multiple channels. Create an online form that parents and other individuals can fill out that includes what tasks they would be interested in doing, what hours they would be available and their contact information. Link to this form on your studio’s website, and send it to parents, alumni and other people who you think may be interested via email.
Also, be sure to take advantage of social media to spread the word that you are looking for volunteers for the upcoming recital. Create posts about how you’re looking for volunteers and encourage your followers to share them, recommended VolunteerSpot. And, as the recital approaches, make sure you send out reminders via email or even mobile to volunteers about their commitments.
Emphasize the Benefits
Recital season is incredibly stressful, but don’t forget that parents, friends and alumni are all dealing with their own busy lives. To successfully recruit – and retain – volunteers, it’s important to keep a positive, upbeat attitude. It makes the experience better for everyone! Begging for volunteers or saying negative statements like volunteering “isn’t really that bad” or that “it’s hard to get help” sends out bad vibes and may turn off some individuals from helping out, noted PTO Today.
Instead, make sure you emphasize the benefits of volunteering to help with the recital, like the fact that parents can have a larger role in the action and can watch their kids and that you’re all working together to help the hard-working dancers shine in the spotlight.
Recognize Your Event Volunteers
In addition to highlighting the positive aspects of volunteering, providing perks for helping out goes a long way. Blake suggested that studio owners give volunteers a small gift like a 10 percent discount off purchases in the dance shop or a free ticket to the recital. You could also offer discounts on photos or flowers, or gift cards to local restaurants, cafes or day spas. During the recital, make sure you have snacks, water and coffee available for volunteers and check in with them throughout the event.
And above all, make sure you thank them. Your event volunteers are doing you a huge favor by helping run your recital, so make sure you acknowledge that you appreciate their time and effort. After your dancers are done performing, you could call up the volunteers onto the stage to thank them, or consider sending out handwritten thank you cards as soon as possible after the event.
Taking the time to thank volunteers reinforces strong relationships and makes them feel more inclined to help out again at next year’s recital and other studio events.
As a studio owner, I have three lists running in my brain at all times. I’m always asking myself the following three questions:
What needs to be done today?
What needs to be done in the next 2-6 months?
What can I make for dinner without going to the store?
(Not kidding on that last one. Anyone whose business is open almost exclusively nights and weekends is sure to have some challenges in the getting-dinner-on-the-table department!)
But, back to practical things. It’s the second week of March, so while our bodies are busy distributing recital costumes and getting ready for competition, our minds are on RECITAL. And, a great show from the audience perspective is dependent on having an awesome act backstage.
Are you gearing up for recital? Keep reading for 5 Backstage Management Tools to make your backstage flow smoothly this year for all ages!
Entertainment reigns supreme for little ones.
At our recital, we run different types of activities to keep little kids entertained backstage. First are the quiet hands-on activities such as drawing, reading and making crafts. When the attention for crafting wanes, we watch a bit of a movie. Nothing lasts more than 20 minutes, so we rotate activities often.
Manage quick changes for really little ones by using “shape cards.”
It was a real “a-ha” moment for me as a teacher when I realized that the reason our little kids couldn’t keep track of their things backstage was because they couldn’t read yet. Now we line up their shoes, accessories and costume changes on easy to identify “shape cards.” Three- and four-year-olds may not be able to read name labels, but they won’t forget their items are on the card shaped like a sunshine! Other shapes include rainbows, stars, clouds, animals and more. Get creative. Kids love picking out their “shape cards!”
Have a backstage “show.”
Our younger dancers wait for their turn in the show in a large room just off the true backstage area. We take advantage of the generous space by having older girls practice their dances in front of the little ones backstage before they hit the big stage. This serves two purposes: First of all, you don’t want the first time that your older students run their choreography that day to be on the stage. The backstage “show” takes care of this. Second, the little kids don’t ever really get a sense of how amazing it is to be in your studio’s production if they only see the stage for a few minutes during the entire show. Sharing dances helps the little ones see a mini-version of recital and increases their understanding of the bigger picture.
Have a code word, hand signal or rhythm clap for getting attention.
All of our students know that when they hear the iconic “clap, clap, clap clap clap,” it’s time to listen. The students repeat the clap pattern in a call-and-response fashion followed by silence. If your waiting area is too close to the stage for rhythm claps, consider having a hand signal for silence. We use the “quiet fox,” which is a hand signal where the third and fourth finger touch the thumb and the pinky and pointer go up for the fox’s ears. If a teacher puts up her fox, it’s a race to see how quickly the kids can put up their foxes as well. The “quiet fox” was intended for little ones, but I think the older ones get more of a kick out of it than the little ones do.
Keep performers moving “stations and checkpoints.”
Another go-to that we use backstage with all age groups is “stations and checkpoints.” Students stay in their dressing room until called by the stage manager. From that point they go to a costume checking station where everyone is checked for accessories, correct shoes, clean tights and tidy hairstyles. If anything needs attention it is taken care of before hitting the true backstage area. Next, they are “in the hole,” which is the area just outside the backstage followed by “on deck,” which is true backstage or side stage. And then, it’s time to dance on stage! The whole process is both very orderly and anticipation-building for the dancers.
Do you have a great tool for backstage management? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Clear and concise dance registration forms make things easier for both dance parents and studio owners. Before drawing up a form or downloading a template off of the Internet, it’s important to give a little consideration to what will be included. Well-designed dance registration forms that contains only the most pertinent information will make it a snap for parents to register their children and for studio owners to organize and reference student information.
Paper or Online?
A primary consideration when designing a dance studio registration form is whether it will be in print, online or both. A paper form makes it easy for parents to sign their children up for classes on the spot, and can be handed out when owners are away from the studio, for example when running a table at a fair or after a performance. Additionally, a physical form makes sure that those without Internet access can still sign up for classes.
However, an online form provides convenience and accessibility from almost anywhere, especially as more and more people own smartphones and conduct their business online. Parents are already using their phones to take care of everyday tasks, like booking medical appointments and paying bills. A study by the Federal Reserve found that 52 percent of smartphone owners have used mobile banking in the last year, and research by Accenture estimated that two-thirds of patients will book their medical appointments online by the end of 2019.
By adapting to these digital habits, studio owners make registering for classes as easy as possible for parents. One studio owner started online registration through her studio’s website and offered a limited-time offer of 50 percent off the registration fee for parents that registered online, and saw great results. Another owner advertised online registration on her website and then received 80 registrations in addition to the 120 she got through her open house. Handling registration online also gives studio owners the extra benefit of being able to post registration reminders on Facebook and via email. Creating an online form is easy and cheap, since no printer is required! There are several easy and free ways to create online registration forms, like Google Forms and Wufoo.
Depending on a studio’s clientele and website budget, providing both paper forms and online registration may be the best option.
Sections to Include
The first section of your dance registration forms should be the student’s information, including his/her name, date of birth, home address and home telephone number. Then include the contact information of her parents, including the parents’ names, email addresses, cell phone numbers and emergency contact information. A line that asks parents to note whether they would prefer to communicate via email or phone is also helpful. Beneath the contact information, ask parents to list whether their children have any allergies or other medical concerns.
The next section should cover legal issues and policy acceptance. These affirm that the parent and student understand the rules of the studio, the risks associated with dance and their responsibilities for attendance and payment. DanceStudioOwner.com provides a sample legal agreement:
I understand that dance classes may include, without limitation, dancing with props, stretching, barre work, across the floor combinations, dance routines in the center, and other related activities. I further understand that all of the activities of the dance class involve some degree of risk of strain or bodily injury. XYZ Dance Studio is not responsible for personal property.
I have received the student handbook and agree to adhere to all the content stated therein including: Studio Policies,Tuition & Payment Information, Dress Code, Traffic Pattern, Visitor Weeks and Calendar
I agree to be responsible for reading studio correspondence and respecting deadlines, if applicable.
I hereby acknowledge that I have read the statements above and agree to participate accordingly.
Next, include a section for listing which classes the student is signing up for. One way to do this is by creating a table with columns for the class name, scheduled date/time and tuition. Beneath the table, include a line for the registration fee and any additional expenses, like a recital fee or costume fee, followed by a line for the total balance due.
Some studio owners attach their class schedule and a condensed version of their policies to the dance registration forms so parents can easily reference them. Try to keep the whole document to as few pages as possible, though, since handing parents a stack of papers – or forcing them to click “Next Page” 50 times online – will only overwhelm them!
Pirouetting around the kitchen or using a countertop as a barre might be fun, but it’s not safe or practical. A better place to practice is in a home ballet studio. Although building a home studio from scratch may sound overwhelming, there are simple and creative ways to create a home dance studio suitable for every household and wallet.
It’s not enough to just throw down a mat and prop up a mirror, however. To build a home ballet studio that will be truly beneficial, and not detrimental, to a dancer’s development, serious consideration should be given to the location of the studio, the materials used and what the studio will be primarily used for. Dancers might want a home studio to practice their skills in between classes, to put in extra preparation before a performance or to simply stretch and do conditioning exercises. Dedicated dancers looking for a quiet space to practice choreography and skills should build a larger studio, while those simply looking for a comfortable place to stretch can get away with a smaller space or portable studio.
Location, Location, Location
One of the most important aspects of building a home studio is determining its location. The main thing to consider is the floor type. Home studios should not be built in rooms and areas with concrete floors, like the basement or garage, since the hard and unforgiving surface can damage the joints. A room with a wood floor is the best option, as it is more forgiving. The space you select should be away from busy areas, be well-ventilated, and have a free wall where mirrors and a barre can be hung. If the only available space for building the studio is the basement or garage, you should build a padded wooden floor over the concrete.
Start From the Bottom
Even in rooms with hardwood floors, a thin layer of padding or laminate is necessary to provide comfort and proper support and decrease slipperiness. If you have a large budget, you can spring for marley floors, the standard floor type in ballet studios, however, rolls of the vinyl flooring, are very expensive. ISport suggested using PVS shower pan liner instead, which feels similar to marley but can be bought for a bargain, at around $4 to $8 per linear foot. The source also recommended installing an underlay of foam-lined subflooring or cushioned laminate to hardwood floors for further support.
Use gaffer’s tape to attach the PVC or other top layer, making sure to smooth it out completely to get rid of any air bubbles. The source also suggested applying a layer of rosin on top to provide greater traction and cut down on the risk of falls and slips. If you’re installing a wooden floor in a garage, basement or other concrete area, varnished ACX plywood is relatively inexpensive and makes for a great base.
Install a Barre
A wall-mounted barre will maximize space in small rooms. While you can order a barre from a studio equipment company, there are cheaper alternatives that you can use to make your own barre. Wooden dowels with a diameter between one and three inches work well, are inexpensive and can be easily found at a hardware store. Basic handrails can also be used to create an inexpensive barre, though you should make sure that they are thick and sturdy and won’t easily break.
Add in Mirrors
Mirrors are essential to the home studio. Dancers need to be able to easily see their form, especially since their instructors will not be there to correct them. If dancers consistently perform a skill poorly, their bad form can become a habit without them even realizing it. You can find large mirrors at a hardware or home furnishing store, but a cheaper option is putting a bunch of small mirror tiles together to form one large mirror. ISport suggested using 12 x 12 inch mirrored tiles, which typically cost only $1 per square foot. Use extra strong sticky tabs or tape to securely adhere the tiles to the wall.
“A wall-mounted barre will maximize space in small rooms.”
Make it Portable
If you can’t permanently designate a room as a home dance studio, you can create a portable studio that can be hidden away when not in use. Although marley is expensive, it is available in smaller, padded versions, like a 4 x 6 feet piece. Purchase a free-standing barre instead of mounting one to the wall, and use a long mirror that’s set on wheels. With these portable pieces, it will take just seconds to put together your home ballet studio.
Creating a home studio gives dancers a quiet space to focus and practice their skills. It only takes a few components, all of which have cheap alternatives, to put together a studio that will serve as a valuable supplement to a dancer’s regular classes and routines.
Recital week can be an exciting time, but it can also be very stressful. Between the constant travel and hoping to look your best during every performance, things can get exhausting quickly. Luckily, there are a few simple ways to get through this stressful time of the year. These tips and tricks can help your dance recital week seem like a breeze, instead of an anxiety-ridden event. Consider these suggestions on how to survive dance recital week.
1) Plan Ahead
Plan, plan, plan ahead! Begin setting aside items that you’ll need for the recital, but won’t need to use the week before. That could be pieces of costumes, hair accessories, shoes, makeup and so on. Beginning to pack this far in advance means that you won’t be scrambling at the last minute trying to get things together for your show or series of shows. Instead, you can calmly grab your bags and head to the studio.
2) Label Everything
When you’re packing, you don’t want to get confused or mix things up. That’s why it’s critical to create categories and sections for all of the pieces you need for recital week. Once you’ve got your costumes and essential items organized, labeling them is just as important. Label each with your name and the purpose of the item. You may even want to go as far as listing the recital number as well as your personal phone number. This is a good idea in case you lose your bag or leave it somewhere and another person finds it. That way they can call you and hopefully you can get it before the show!
3) Make Copies of Your Rehearsal Schedule
Rehearsals are just as important as the recital themselves. After all, what’s more important than making sure you completely have the steps down for your routine? Once you get your rehearsal schedule from your teacher, look it over several times to make sure you know where and when you are rehearsing for the dance recital, and write down the schedule in your planner.
If you don’t know these details, you might get distracted and forgot or accidentally arrive at the wrong studio, causing you to be late for the rehearsal and potentially ill-prepared. Though these schedules can seem overwhelming, as you may have several practices in a row before the actual performances, they are critical to you doing well.
4) Bring Extras
It’s always wise to bring extras of things. That way, if you lose one item, you can quickly grab the backup. Also, recitals can be an exciting time, but they can also be unpredictable. You may not anticipate that your tights will rip or the straps to your dress will come loose, but they might. Keeping an extra pair of tights and some safety pins on hand can help alleviate these issues as they happen. Aside from those two items, have extra bobby pins, pain relievers, hairspray, makeup, baby wipes and band aids. That way you can be at your best no matter what happens.
Looking for a guide to help organize these extras? Check out our dance competition survival guide! Competitions and recitals have TONS of crossover materials needed, so you can use this guide be sure to have everything covered.
5) Create a Checklist
Thanks to DanceMom.com, who put together a checklist of lots of items you need to pack and things to keep in mind. Run through that list more than once to make sure everything is on there!
After packing, compare the list with your packed dance bag not once, but twice. Attention to the little details can make a big difference on recital day! Once you know everything is packed, you can head into the studio assured and confident instead of worried and concerned that you forgot something.
6) Eat Smart!
If you’re running from performance to performance, you’re bound to get thirsty fast. That’s why it’s so important that you pack plenty of food and water.
Make sure you bring along a resilient, large water bottle that you can refill and keep at the studio. The same goes for food and snacks. You don’t want to be running on empty during your favorite performances, so pack some healthy snacks to help keep you going.
Regardless of what age and level you are, it can be hard to be a student and a dancer. You want to be the best dancer you can be, but you also don’t want to fall behind on your schoolwork. Yet between homework, tests, practices and recitals, it can be hard to get it all done. So what are you to do? Consider these four tips on how to balance dance and school.
“Ask your dance studio owner or teacher for a estimated calendar of events.”
1. Get a Planner
Between school and dance, you may not have much free time. That’s why it’s important to stay organized. One of the best ways to do this is to get a planner. If a paper planner isn’t your thing, consider one of these great organizational apps. As soon as you get your syllabus from each class, log all quizzes, assignments and tests. That way, you can’t miss your assigned homework or a last-minute practice. Visually seeing these tasks a week ahead can also keep you organized. Sometimes you might not know about a performance or recital until a few weeks before. At the beginning of the year, ask your dance studio owner or teacher for a estimated calendar of events that you can log into your planner as well. Hopefully those dates will stay fairly accurate throughout the year so you can keep on top of it all.
2. It’s OK to Put School in Front of Dance
Some days, it may seem like dance is more important than school. You have more fun there anyway, right? However, at the end of the day, academics still matter. If there is a way to compromise, then make it happen. Otherwise, put school first. At the end of the day, dance may not be worth it if you’re failing classes. If you have a big test or presentation coming up, work on it during your free time at dance practice or a recital. However, if you know that you won’t have that free time at dance, it might be better to skip it.
3. Time it Right
As a dancer, you may tend to put a little too much on your plate. Aside from school and dance, you may also try to balance a job, friends and time with family. Be careful – this can lead to a fast burnout if you try to make it all work. Each week, plan out your timing. Look at how much time you plan to spend at dance, at school, on homework and so on. If you don’t have time for everything, it’s important to cut out activities that matter less. Though it could be hard to cancel on good friends, it might be necessary. Make sure you dedicate the most time in your day to dance and school. If you have extra time at the end of your day, great! If not, then it’s time to make some cancelations.
4. Think About Home School
If you’re looking to be a serious dancer, it might be time to think about home school. That way, you can plan your hours around practice and recitals. However, if you decide to do this, it’s important to talk to your teachers, parents and dance directors first. They may decide against the idea or note that it isn’t the smartest move for you. Your parents or guardians may also note that they don’t have the time to teach you at home. Sometimes, you may be able to compromise. Consider meeting halfway by going to class part of the time and then attending dance classes for the rest of the day. That way, your schoolwork is still partially structured while being able to focus on dance.
You probably have a system for planning classes for dance season. Maybe you have some tried-and-true methods that you’ll be repeating or perhaps you’re going to revamp your class structure to better your studio. Either way, you should make a point to create class syllabi for the different courses you’ll be offering in the coming season. Here are some of the benefits that studio owners can reap from a structured dance class syllabus and a few pointers for drafting these documents.
Benefits of an Established Syllabus
A carefully crafted syllabus can benefit not only the teachers, but the students as well. When you take the time to create these documents for your classes, you can ensure that everyone will have a better experience at your studio.
The perks for instructors include:
Syllabi help teachers prepare for classes.
The document helps teachers keep the course on track throughout the year.
Syllabi serve as a reminder of the skills teachers need to cover.
It helps staff enforce studio policies.
It clearly establishes behavioral expectations for students.
According to the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, the benefits of syllabi for students include:
The document can help students establish educational plans. In this case, it helps them to plan their growth as dancers.
It provides essential information, such as contact details, class times, rehearsal schedules and the like.
A syllabus serves as a remind of studio policies on behavior, dress code, attendance and more.
It informs students of what they’ll be learning, when they’ll be learning it and what they need to do to succeed in the class.
What to Include in a Syllabus
When you first sit down to create a syllabus, you may be tempted to simply jot down all your thoughts and goals for the class. This is a good way to get your thoughts down on paper, but you’ll want to create a document with a little more structure.
Start by writing the static parts of your syllabus – these sections will likely remain unchanged between courses and seasons. If you have a studio contract, you may even want to simply copy and paste the sections about classroom behavior, attendance, proper attire and other studio rules.
Next, you’ll want to create sections like:
Instructor info: Note who will be teaching the class and his or her contact information.
Class description: A general description of the course, genre and skill level.
Course goals: List the skills and techniques that students will ideally master over the course of the season.
Class timeline: Lay out the major events and lesson plans that will take place in the class. Include the topic for each class, as well as dates for performances and dress rehearsals if you know them.
Once you have these sections written, you may want to have the instructor look over the document and make changes or suggestions. This will ensure that the syllabus is a team effort and that everyone is on the same page when it comes to the class.
Don’t Forget to Revisit Old Syllabi
If you have syllabi that you’ve been using for years, it’s a good idea to revise them each season. After all, there are likely things that your studio could be doing better and you’ll want to reflect those changes in the document.
“We constantly reassess what we are doing, but it’s the team effort that makes it successful,” Peter Stark, dance department chair at the Patel Conservatory, explained to Dance Teacher magazine. “Star students come and go, star teachers come and go, but a methodology can maintain through that.”
Once you’ve written, revised and reviewed your syllabi, you’ll be ready to distribute them to the students, post them on your website and jump on into the new season of dance.
Zero time? Yes. That’s what I call the period after recital. In my world, it looks something like this:
From eating out every day at rehearsals to ZERO food in the fridge at home the next week.
From 800 students on the day of the last recital to ZERO students the next day.
From performance adrenaline to ZERO energy the morning after recital.
From hundreds of people telling you how great you are at the show to seemingly making ZERO people happy after fall placements come out.
It may feel like zero time to those of us in the trenches of dance studio ownership, but to quote YouTube sensation ‘Sweet Brown,’ “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”
It’s dance registration time, people! So kick off the recital dust and “zero time” blues and get ready for 5 Tips for Dance Registration that Rocks:
Amp the excitement with a new program. Last year I felt like our registration buzz was a little low, so we added Acro, Leaps & Turns and Modern to the roster. Every one of those classes was full with a waiting list in 9 MINUTES after online registration opened. While that was exciting, the real win for us was that the people who rushed to register for the new and exciting classes also registered for the standards like ballet, tap and jazz at the same time.
Tie accepting a performance company placement to registration. At our studio we hold our auditions for performing groups the week after recital. Audition results go out at the same time as registration info. To accept a placement, a student must register for fall (and summer) classes. This is a great way to firm up involvement for fall, especially with teen students who may lose motivation for returning classes as the summer wears on.
Race to Registration. Last year we launched a “Race to Registration” contest that was very successful. Here’s how the contest worked: At the end of each week of the contest we drew a name from those who had enrolled over the course of the week. The winner could choose from a $100 studio gift card, a studio jacket or a studio birthday party. To claim the prize, they would need to come with a parent to the studio and have their picture taken, which was then promoted on Facebook and Instagram, and ultimately shared by the winning family to their social circles. We ran this promotion for the four weeks leading up to fall classes and captured more than 50 additional students in the process.
Make FB actually work for you. Gone are the days of counting on FB posts alone to drive action from your fan base. FB has changed its algorithm so that less than 10% of people who like your page will ever see a post from you. The new power of FB belongs to paid promotions to targeted audiences, boosted posts and getting people to share posts, which puts your message into the news feed of people who already know and love you. If FB advertising isn’t already in your budget, make room for it this year. Even a small budget of $5/day for a week on a specific call to action can make a big difference.
Don’t let people fall through the cracks. Do you know what the least expensive way to get enrollment is? DON’T LOSE YOUR CURRENT STUDENTS! This should be obvious, but based on the number of calls I get from people wanting to know how to attract new students, it isn’t. My first piece of advice is to do whatever you can to get the current students to return. Do you have a system to measure who returns and who doesn’t? What do you do to reach out to previous students? No, they won’t all come back. Some move on, some age out and some just weren’t your cup of tea. Many, however, probably had a great experience and just have not gotten around to re-registering. If too much time passes after recital time they might figure it’s just too late. Don’t let people fall through the cracks. Even if they don’t re-register, they will appreciate the care you showed in reaching out to them and likely refer future families to your studio.
Can you imagine the following? A house builder works for nine months with clients to build a beautiful family home. The builder communicates and plans; hiring subcontractors, building walls, insuring the project, financing the materials and making the finishing touches just right. The builder takes draws from the clients for expenses along the way, but when it comes time to deliver the final product and hand over the keys, he takes a pass on getting paid for the last weeks of work.
This would never happen in the “real world,” but in “our world,” it happens all too often.
Studio owners put nine months of work into building a beautiful product and then fail to take it to the finish line from a business perspective.
If you are looking for dance recital ideas to produce a dance recital that pays you for your time and effort, keep reading!
The Biggest Expense – Producing a profitable program starts well before the show begins. When I ask studio owners what their biggest recital expense is, they will inevitably say “theater rental.” WRONG. Your biggest expense (and easiest expense to control) is most likely costume purchases. Control expenses by working with one trusted vendor. I moved 98% of my costume order to Curtain Call this year. By working with one costume house, I earned better volume discounts, consistent ships dates and a dedicated Customer Relationship Manager—which saved me time and costly returns.
Tickets – When was the last time you went to the movies for free? Oh, you didn’t? That’s because they’re not free and neither is renting a theater and putting on a recital.☺ Calculate your appropriate ticket price point by taking time to truly count the cost of all expenses associated with show production including, but not limited to, facility rental, dressing room rental, rehearsal space rental, lighting design, microphones, headsets, tech crew, sound crew, housemen, ushers, music editing, props, faculty time and insurance.
Keepsake Program Books – Part 1 – Are you producing a high quality recital program book? If not, you are missing out on a chance to not only elevate the professionalism of your show, but also to create an additional stream of revenue before the dry summer months hit. The first year I produced a Keepsake Program Book, I called the show “My Hometown.” We dedicated the dances to local businesses and then used the dedication as a reason to ask them to place a congratulatory ad for the dancers. We sold a little over 30 ads the first year and now sell 80-90 ads on a yearly basis
Keepsake Program Books – Part 2 – Businesses aren’t the only ones interested in placing ads in the program book. Take advantage of your professional publication to encourage families to celebrate the accomplishments of their dancers and graduating seniors by placing “Brava!” ads.
Commemorative Merchandise – The possibilities for commemorative merchandise are endless. We partner with a local florist to provide flowers. Our biggest seller is a branded recital t-shirt complete with every dancer’s name on the back. The students bring sharpies and sign each other’s shirts after the show. Many of our More Than Just Great DancingTM affiliate studios offer an even broader assortment of commemorative items at their shows including recital bears, bondi bands, sweatshirts, picture frames, bracelets, charms, water bottles, parent gear and more.
Memory Makers – Dance is the only art that disappears as soon as you create it. Make the celebration last by providing quality photography and videography opportunities for your families. Partner with local vendors to trade services or profit share. Or, take it a step further by investing in the equipment and training to provide the service yourself.
Most Importantly… Most importantly, a professional, positive recital experience for families is your best promotion for summer and fall enrollment—the lifeblood of your business. The time, energy and planning you put into your show will pay you dividends for months to come.
The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.