Sponsored by Akada Software

Here's Everything Your Studio Software Should Be Doing for You

Photo by Jenny Studios, courtesy of Utah Dance Artists

Running a dance school used to involve a seemingly endless stream of paperwork. But thanks to the advent of software tailored specifically for dance studios' needs, those hours formerly spent pushing papers can now be put to better use.

"Nobody opens a dance studio because they want to do administrative work," says Brett Stuckey, who leads Akada Software's support team. "It's our job to get you out of the office and back into your classroom."

We talked to Stuckey about how a studio software program can streamline operations, so you can put your energy toward your students.

Save Time

Want to turn a multihour task into one that takes mere minutes? Software can be your key. Imagine being able to charge every parent's credit card with the push of a single button. Or putting together your class schedule or recital lineup with a system designed to ensure that no student has conflicting sessions or back-to-back routines.

One of Stuckey's favorite time-saving Akada features tackles costume ordering. With all of your students already in the system, all you have to do is plug in measurements and assign a costume to each class. "The system will assign sizes," he says. "You can print out purchase orders. You can see who's paid and who hasn't. There's even a place for parents to check off when they receive each costume."

A dance teacher leads a group of young girls in an exercise, they have their hands on their hips and look at themselves in the mirror.

Photo by Jenny Studios, courtesy of Utah Dance Artists

Improve Communication

Sending home paper handouts may be tradition, but there are more effective ways to get the word out. Studio software will give you the ability to email and/or text your customers (who will be able to opt in and out). While you could write to the whole school community at once, Akada also allows you to create groups for classes, teams or companies, so you're providing information only to those who need it.

"I send e-mails with specific updates," says Jill Athridge, owner of Stage Door Studios in Sarasota, Florida, who uses Akada. "Like, your class will be trying on costumes on Monday, so please arrive a couple minutes early. Or, don't forget, the studio will be closed for this holiday." She often follows up with a text message. "As a parent, it's easy to get overwhelmed," she says. "Those gentle reminders can help."

Boost Your Bottom Line

If you're tired of chasing down tuition payments, automating the process is a must. With Akada, you can keep card numbers on file to charge on the same day each month, or send reminders for parents to log in and authorize payments themselves. Either way, you'll be more likely to receive what you're owed, on time and in full, if you make paying hassle-free.

Another potentially helpful tool: If your studio charges fees beyond monthly tuition, Akada has a setting that requires payment to go toward the oldest thing that's due. "So, if someone owes two months of tuition, but they want to book a private lesson, they have to pay their tuition before they can schedule the private," Athridge explains. "That's huge."

A young dance teacher, kneels on the ground next to a few young students, and talks to them, gesturing with her hands.

Photo by Jenny Studios, courtesy of Utah Dance Artists

Stay in the Loop

The right software can ensure that everyone who needs to know is in the know. "My favorite Akada feature is that there's a place to compile notes regarding individual accounts," says Jennifer Browning, studio manager at Utah Dance Artists, which has two locations in South Jordan and Draper. "The ladies at our front desks can write down in the system when someone calls in about a sick child, a late payment, any issue like that. I can view the notes from both studios, all in one spot."

You'll also be able to customize who uses the system, and how. Maybe you prefer for one administrator to handle taking roll and sending out notifications. Or perhaps you want your teachers to each create accounts and control their own classes. Akada already has a teacher portal on its web platform and will soon launch a teacher app for taking attendance. (An Akada app for parents is also coming soon.) In short, whatever level of oversight you need, the right software system can help you achieve it.

A woman in a pink Akada shirt sits at a computer, talking on the phone.

Photo courtesy of Akada Software

Get Help

The biggest key to software success? Don't be afraid to ask for help. Akada offers overview sessions for new customers. "We'll listen to you describe what your studio does, and we'll tell you how to best make that work within our software," Stuckey says. If you have questions down the line, Akada takes pride in always having someone available to answer the phone and offers webinars on subjects like planning for fall enrollment and ordering recital costumes. Customers are always welcome to write in with suggestions for software updates. Plus, as a way of giving back, Akada runs a scholarship program that is now in its third year; applications for the $1,000 awards will open in May.

Stuckey points out that March is an ideal time to discuss changes that will affect your students in the fall. So, if you've been on the fence about leaving your printouts and binders behind, there's no time like the present to bring software into your studio. With a streamlined system in place behind the scenes, your creativity will be able to take center stage.

Nan Melville, courtesy Genn

Not so long ago, it seemed that ballet dancers were always encouraged to pull up away from the floor. Ideas evolved, and more recently it has become common to hear teachers saying "Push down to go up," and variations on that concept.

Charla Genn, a New York City–based coach and dance rehabilitation specialist who teaches company class for Dance Theatre of Harlem, American Ballet Theatre and Ballet Hispánico, says that this causes its own problems.

"Often when we tell dancers to go down, they physically push down, or think they have to plié more," she says. These are misconceptions that keep dancers from, among other things, jumping to their full potential.

To help dancers learn to efficiently use what she calls "Mother Marley," Genn has developed these clever techniques and teaching tools.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending
Alwin Courcy, courtesy Ballet des Amériques

Carole Alexis has been enduring the life-altering after-effects of COVID-19 since April 2020. For months on end, the Ballet des Amériques director struggled with fevers, tingling, dizziness and fatigue. Strange bruising showed up on her skin, along with the return of her (long dormant) asthma, plus word loss and stuttering.

"For three days I would experience relief from the fever—then, boom—it would come back worse than before," Alexis says. "I would go into a room and not know why I was there." Despite the remission of some symptoms, the fatigue and other debilitating side effects have endured to this day. Alexis is part of a tens-of-thousands-member club nobody wants to be part of—she is a COVID-19 long-hauler.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending

Annika Abel Photography, courtesy Griffith

When the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May catalyzed nationwide protests against systemic racism, the tap community resumed longstanding conversations about teaching a Black art form in the era of Black Lives Matter. As these dialogues unfolded on social media, veteran Dorrance Dance member Karida Griffith commented infrequently, finding it difficult to participate in a meaningful way.

"I had a hard time watching people have these conversations without historical context and knowledge," says Griffith, who now resides in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, after many years in New York City. "It was clear that there was so much information missing."

For example, she observed people discussing tap while demonstrating ignorance about Black culture. Or, posts that tried to impose upon tap the history or aesthetics of European dance forms.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.