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.
You’ve spent the year planning a dance recital for your studio, and now, with one month left to go, everything is finally coming together. The next few weeks will bring a flurry of emails and phone calls and the time will pass by before you even realize it. It’s possible, however, to minimize stress and stay sane – the key is being organized and having a dance recital checklist.
One of the worst feelings is suddenly remembering that you forgot to pick up the costumes, enlist volunteers or take care of another vital task. The dance recital checklist below will help you make sure you stay on track with one month to go before the recital.
Check in With the Venue
If you are holding the recital at a venue other than your own studio, now is the time to check-in with them and confirm that the space will be yours for the recital and for any rehearsals. Verify the hours that you’ll need to use the venue, and make sure that you have secured sufficient space for dressing rooms and backstage areas and that there will be enough chairs for your audience and tables for selling flowers and other items.
You also should check that there is an easily accessible parking area for audience members, teachers, dancers and volunteers. Also, make a note of what you’ll need to bring with you for the performance, such as additional lighting and music systems.
Try on Costumes
The last things you want are uncomfortable dancers and curtain-call wardrobe surprises. Don’t wait until the recital gets closer – instead, have your dancers try on their costumes well before recital time to make sure they fit, recommended Crown Awards. Consider offering a “Costume Construction Day” for alterations or provide parents with the contact info of the seamstress so they can arrange any necessary alterations or tailoring if the fit should be improved before rehearsals. Also, check that each dancer has all the necessary accessories and a garment bag for transporting the costume to the dress rehearsal and recital.
Programs can be a hassle to put together, but if they include advertiser pages they can really help boost your business. One month before the recital, layout and print the programs. You can do this yourself on publishing software if you’re design-savvy, but otherwise, you can outsource the programs to an online company. When you receive the draft of the programs, triple-check for typos, misspelled names and other errors.
If you have money in your budget, hiring a professional designer to craft your recital programs is well worth the money, advised Dance Studio Life. This way, you can create custom ads for local businesses who want to be included in your program but don’t have an ad ready, and you can have a snazzy, high-quality program that you can sell as a keepsake.
Finalize Recital Add-ons
It’s important to figure out ahead of time what you will offer at the recital. Dance recital add-ons can be both a service to your dance families and a source of added income. The Dance Exec provided a helpful list of recital “extras” that you should consider: Logo t-shirts, posed and candid recital photos, flowers, trophies, stuffed animals and recital DVDs. If you haven’t already, decide whether you will hire a professional photographer and/or videographer to record the recital, and book them ASAP. Check out this post for tips on choosing the right photographer for your dance recital photos.
Distribute Recital Packets
There are so many details for dance families to remember – make it as easy as possible by providing a recital packet. Some of the information you might want to include is:
Posed/recital photo sessions/information
Recital day schedule/info, including drop-off/pickup information, parking, etc.
Cost of recital add-ons, and any related order forms
In addition to the packet itself, make use of email, text and social media reminders to keep your dance families informed. You may also want to hold a mandatory “recital meeting,” especially for new dance parents.
Want an easy template to start from? You can download our Sample Recital Detail Information template using the form below! It’s a Microsoft Word document, so you can edit the details according to your needs.
Take the time now to confirm that you have enough volunteers to help out with the recital – and recruit some if you discover you’re falling short. It’s easy to forget certain little jobs that need volunteers, so sit down and list out every aspect of the recital to make sure you’ve enlisted enough help. Do you have people to man the flower or recital DVD table? What about someone to help organize the dancers backstage? Someone to take tickets, give out the programs, or direct parking? Make sure you have all your bases covered!
Take Care of Yourself
With all the craziness that comes with recital season, you need to make sure you’re taking good care of yourself. Stay hydrated, get plenty of sleep and opt for convenient, healthy meals instead of fast food after late classes and client visits. You might think that feeling pulled in a million directions all at once is a normal feeling as the recital approaches, but neglecting your health only makes it more likely that you’ll wake up the morning of the recital with a throbbing migraine and a sore throat.
And if you’re feeling overwhelmed with stress, take a step back and remember – all the little details are fun, but the true value of planning a dance recital is that your dancers get to share their passion and hard work with loved ones and a community who cares.
You know just how much work is required before, during and after a seasonal recital. It’s certainly more than your two hands (and the hands of your instructors) can handle! If you’re thinking about asking for volunteers to help out at your next big performance, it’s a good idea – if you do it right! Use these ideas for dance recitals to choose the best people for the job, ensure everything goes smoothly and make it enjoyable for everyone.
The Best Helpers
Your first thought will be to ask parents to help, and while they will probably be happy to volunteer, Dance Studio Life suggested you only use parents as a last resort. The parents paid you to teach their children, so if possible, let them enjoy the performance in all its glory. Instead of parents, ask studio alumni to help. Former students can run the front-of-house and backstage operations while your instructors take care of the dancers. Offering to organize an alumni dance will often be all the incentive your alumni need!
You know best what you need extra help with on performance days, but don’t forget the little things. Use volunteers in the following roles:
Bringing classes to and from the stage
Depending on how many volunteers you have, some helpers may need to take on multiple roles. Make sure you have a list of assignments ready to go on the performance date. Assigning tasks is much easier than letting people choose and having a list will ensure everyone knows where to be.
If you do have parent volunteers, make sure they get a job near their children. Dance Advantage suggested having moms coordinate fun and quiet activities to play with kids backstage or adjust costumes and jewelry. This ensures they’ll get quality time with their little dancers and can watch the show from behind the scenes.
Communication Best Practices
It may take a few years to get your communication practices to flow smoothly, but in the meantime, communicate with your volunteers as much as possible. Dance Studio Life recommended you send out a detailed letter to each individual a few weeks before the show. Lay out the date and time of the recital, where they will be stationed, what their responsibilities will be and how they can contact you. Encourage volunteers to ask any questions beforehand. A few days before the show, reach out via phone or email to make sure everyone is still on board. This way you won’t be caught off guard if someone has a last-minute commitment.
Thanking Your Volunteers
If you want your volunteers to come back next season, ensure they have a good time and know how much you appreciate their help. There are a number of different method you can use, depending on your budget. If you have some money to spare, you can throw a pizza party for everyone or provide some desserts for after the show. Another fun idea from Non-Profit 2.0 is to give each helper a personalized thank you letter and a T-shirt from your studio. It’s a small token of your appreciation that will serve as a reminder of their experience and hopefully encourage them to stay involved. Finally, you can create a volunteer board in your studio with pictures from the show or post an photo album to social media with a public word of thanks.