Studio Owners

8 To-Do's for Maximum Effect to Start the Studio Year


Though a new studio year brings with it its own stressors—class scheduling, orientation, newly sore muscles—you'd be remiss if you didn't also use this opportunity to carefully consider what's been working (and what hasn't) for your studio. Is it time to repaint your lobby? Get rid of that more-trouble-than-it's-worth vending machine? Finally add a social-media clause to your student handbook? August is your chance to roll up your sleeves and give every aspect of your business the mental elbow grease it needs.

Give your summer camp schedule another look

"I found with summer classes, less is more," says Carroll. "The fewer classes I offered, the more kids I received." Last year, she offered five summer camps: four weeklong ones for youngsters (including new students) and one all-day dance camp for her more serious dancers. She was surprised by the low turnout. "Summer camps were a bust for me," she says. "Only one of [the weeklong camps] filled." This past summer, she offered just one weeklong camp and added an early drop-off and late pickup option for parents who work a typical 9-to-5 schedule. Maglasang also trimmed her summer camp schedule this year, from four weeks to three. "I don't want to take away the kids' summer," she says. (She herself found four weeks of camp draining.) Maglasang was thoughtful about pricing, too. "Everyone in my area was pricing at $200 a week. I have three kids—how do I afford $600 a week? That's like a mortgage," she says. Instead, she charged $45 a week per kid, and wound up with 70 kids in her first weeklong camp. Her deal also helped usher in new students. By the time fall registration came around, Maglasang had increased her enrollment to 113, up from 76.

Teaching Tips
Justin Boccitto teaches a hybrid class. Photo courtesy Boccitto

Just as teachers were getting comfortable with teaching virtual classes, many studios are adding an extra challenge into the mix: in-person students learning alongside virtual students. Such hybrid classes are meant to keep class sizes down and to give students options to take class however they're comfortable.

But dividing your attention between virtual students and masked and socially distant in-person students—and giving them each a class that meets their needs—is no easy feat.

Dance Teacher asked four teachers what they've learned so far.

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All photos by Ryan Heffington

"Annnnnnnd—we're back!"

Ryan Heffington is kneeling in front of his iPhone, looking directly into the camera, smiling behind his bushy mustache. He's in his house in the desert near Joshua Tree, California, phone propped on the floor so it stays steady, his bright shorty shorts, tank top and multiple necklaces in full view. Music is already playing—imagine you're at a club—and soon he's swaying and bouncing from side to side, the beat infusing his bones.

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Evelyn Cisneros-Legate. Photo by Beau Pearson, Courtesy Ballet West

Evelyn Cisneros-Legate is bringing her hard-earned expertise to Ballet West. The former San Francisco Ballet star is taking over all four campuses of The Frederick Quinney Lawson Ballet West Academy as the school's new director.

Cisneros-Legate, whose mother put her in ballet classes in an attempt to help her overcome her shyness, trained at the San Francisco Ballet School and School of American Ballet before joining San Francisco Ballet as a full company member in 1977. She danced with the company for 23 years, breaking barriers as the first Mexican American to become a principal dancer in the U.S., and has graced the cover of Dance Magazine no fewer than three times.

As an educator, Cisneros-Legate has served as ballet coordinator at San Francisco Ballet, principal of Boston Ballet School's North Shore Studio and artistic director of after-school programming at the National Dance Institute (NDI). Dance Teacher spoke with her about her new position, her plans for the academy and leading in the time of COVID-19.

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