Studio Owners

3 Tips to Hire and Retain the Right Faculty for Your School

Karin Ellis-Wentz (left) of Joffrey Academy. Photo by Todd Rosenberg, courtesy of Joffrey Academy

When Lindy Fabyanic opened her school, Dance Conservatory of Charleston, she called on friends and former colleagues to find guest teachers and build her faculty. "I started texting my network to see if they wanted to come teach workshops or master classes," says Fabyanic, former dancer with San Francisco Ballet and New York City Ballet. "It was so heartwarming to get their positive responses and feel their support."

Whether your studio is new or well-established, the easiest and most effective way to find potential candidates is to reach out to people you already know. A strong, trusted faculty will ensure that students receive the best training and experience possible. But it can be challenging to recruit highly qualified teachers if you don't have direct access to a large network of professionals in your area. Even when you find the right people, how do you retain them in a competitive market? Try these creative and expense-free strategies to help build the right team for your school.

See Them in Action

Karin Ellis-Wentz (center) of Joffrey Academy. Photo by Todd Rosenberg, courtesy of Joffrey Academy

Candidates for your faculty might look great on paper, but could flop in the classroom. A good way to vet new teachers is to invite them in for a trial class. "I look to see if the potential new hire is sensitive to students' needs, based on different levels within the room," says Rodriguez. "It's very important how they are able to adapt, create a healthy atmosphere both physically and emotionally, and be open to trying things different ways."

Shahani tests new instructors when his school needs a substitute. "I see if the students are engaged and study the teacher's body language. You can observe technical things as well, the same way you would assess a student, and see their training and teaching style." If you are interested in a candidate but still on the fence, invite them to teach for a week over the summer. This extended audition will give you more time to evaluate the person and give students the opportunity to have a guest instructor.

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It can be tricky to get away for a conference, whether due to travel budget concerns or finding a substitute to cover your absence. One silver lining of the pandemic is that five conferences are now available online, no travel necessary. You'll find sessions to address your concerns no matter what your role in the dance community—whether you're on the business side, interested in curriculum development, need continuing ed certification, or a performer who wants to teach. Why not gather colleagues from your studio or school for an educational watch party to inspire you as you launch into the new school year?

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Health & Body
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Talar compression syndrome means there is some impingement happening in the posterior portion of the ankle joint. Other medical personnel might call your problem os trigonum syndrome or posterior ankle impingement syndrome or posterior tibiotalar compression syndrome. No matter what they name it—it means you are having trouble moving your ankle through pointing and flexing.

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Scott Robbins, Courtesy IABD

The International Association of Blacks in Dance is digitizing recordings of significant, at-risk dance works, master classes, panels and more by Black dancers and choreographers from 1988 to 2010. The project is the result of a $50,000 Recordings at Risk grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources.

"This really is a long time coming," says IABD president and CEO Denise Saunders Thompson of what IABD is calling the Preserving the Legacy and History of Black Dance in America program. "And it's really just the beginning stages of pulling together the many, many contributions of Black dance artists who are a part of the IABD network." Thompson says IABD is already working to secure funding to digitize even more work.

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