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.
I live in a place affectionately called the Frozen Tundra. It’s not exactly the Arctic, but Green Bay Packer fans claim the whole state is pretty close to that from about mid-December to mid-March.
No matter where you live, don’t let the colder weather or busyness of the season lull you into taking your foot off the gas in terms of seeking new enrollments. Don’t fall asleep at the wheel! Registration incentives, pre-planning for upcoming classes and events, and getting creative with marketing ideas are just a few of the tools you can use.
Winter is a GREAT time to plan for Spring dance studio enrollment boosters. Here are 6 ideas to get you started:
FB contest for tuition credit. Last week we started a unique FB contest that has gotten a lot of traction. The promotion is a picture of our “Give the Gift of Dance” basket. It’s basically a dance class starter set with a value of $130, but sells for $95. The contest component is that everyone who shares it and comments that they did so below the picture is entered to win a $100 studio tuition credit. We got 68 shares the first day! What’s better yet? Many people not only mentioned that they shared, but they commented what they loved about the studio.
“Summer in Winter”! Winter is the best time to plan for new summer classes. Tie up loose ends on guest artists now! Strong planning now means the ability to begin taking enrollment for summer by the end of February.
Line up Spring community performances now. Now is the time to line up community performances for the spring. Community performances are a great way to showcase what is great about your studio, pass out information and teach kids how to use their gifts and talents to serve others.
Call the local dance teams. High school dance team is a big deal around these parts. Instead of trying to compete, we partner with them several times a year. We offer free rehearsal space for teams as needed. We also offer a special “cleaning” session with one of our teachers that can be purchased. Once you establish a relationship with a team, it’s an easy transition to promote an audition workshop or classes in the dance team style.
Move your fall enrollment date up. Our registration date for fall used to always be June 1, however, when I had children of my own I realized that all of the good preschools held their registration for fall in February! While I haven’t quite been able to move our registration up that far, we have moved it to April, which has helped enrollment tremendously. The parents encourage enrollment in groups by talking about which classes they will take next year while they wait for classes to let out.
Keep taking students! Sounds simple, but the impact is powerful! There is NEVER a time at Misty’s Dance Unlimited where someone is not able to enroll. We take school year students until Jan. 31. Beginning Feb. 1, they can sign up for summer classes. Now imagine if I still cut off enrollment in December with the costume order (which I used to do!). Last year we took 20+ enrollments in January. Many will become long-term students. If I hadn’t accepted their enrollments, some might’ve waited for fall…but most would’ve kept looking for another studio.
Looking for more great dance studio enrollment tips? Check out:
As dance studio owners we live in a strange DUAL WORLD.
At all times one part of us is absorbed in the demands of the day while the other part is 3-6 months out planning for the future.
Your spouse, teachers and students may not realize it, but for every question you answer about today’s schedule, another side of you is already translating that information to improvements for the next round of classes.
When your spouse is thinking summer vacation, you are thinking of fall classes. When parents are buying back to dance gear, you are buying holiday show costumes. When teachers are looking forward to fall break, you are looking forward to recital.
As a studio owner, you have to have your feet in the moment AND your eye on the horizon.
In recognition of the DUAL DEMANDS on our calendars, set aside the duties of the day and take a minute to PLAN NOW for a great holiday show with the following 5 tips:
Find a niche. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to producing recitals—and holiday shows are no exception. Don’t get caught in the trend trap. What works for your competitor might not work for you. For example, there is an established ballet school in my area that produces a great Nutcracker each year. And, while I think it is important for my students to have knowledge of the Nutcracker and experience dancing to the iconic score, there is no need for me to duplicate the production on an annual basis because someone in my area is already doing a great job of it. When planning your holiday show look for a niche that no one else is filling. At our studio we produce four “Christmas Social” performances featuring students from our Children’s division (under age 9) and a sprinkling of older Performance Company members. All shows are an hour in length and all proceeds are converted to scholarships so that our high school students can attend Dance Revolution convention. We follow the shows with an old-fashioned time of food and fellowship. Our parents appreciate the low stress format and focus on giving.
Rally the troops. Don’t go it alone. Enlist the help of teachers, parents and students to take some of the burden of performance details off of your shoulders during a busy time of year. Our teachers are involved in picking out the music and costumes as well as creating choreography. Parents and students help with ushering and taking care of children back stage. Recruiting helpers has an added benefit of training teachers and students to be leaders as well as allowing parents to be enthusiastic ambassadors for our studio.
Map out the mileage. You wouldn’t take a road trip without knowing the cost, yet many dance studio owners embark on show preparation without a plan to cover their production expenses. Hold all announcements on ticket prices, rehearsal fees and costume charges until you are confident you have your hands around expenses. As a business coach, the number one challenge I see studio owners facing are losses created by “flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants-syndrome.” You should never lose money producing a show. You are a professional and you provide a valuable service to your children, your families and the community. Don’t risk your ability to provide future opportunities for your students by skipping this important step in the planning process.
Release the rules. Communication is key for show success! Clearly spell out all obligations for families including auditions, rehearsal dates, absence policies, costume requirements, performance times and fees in one beautiful, easy-to-read document. Nothing makes a parent upset faster than not having the full picture before making a commitment, or when the “rules” change after publication. Be clear and consistent with your communication and policies.
Solve the ticket issue now. In the end, most parents want to know two things about extra performances: 1) How much will it cost, and 2) How do I get to see my child perform? Answer both of those questions with a ticketing solution from TutuTix. Not only will the ticketing task be off of your plate, but the income for your hard work will be in your account…win-win!