Studio Owners

Ask the Experts: How Do I Manage Attendance at My Studio?


Q: Last year, dancers on my comp teams missed a lot of classes for school trips, cheer squad, exams, and religious and family commitments. This had a definite effect on our comp routines. How do you manage attendance at your studio?

A: At our studio, we're very clear about what's expected from everyone involved with our competition teams. The dates of recitals and stage rehearsals go out with registration information in the summertime. We also let them know that no full- or part-time company dancer can miss more than one day for religious or family commitments from the start of choreography to the end of competition season. This way, everyone knows what's expected of them as they come into the new season.

Three weeks before choreography starts, we have a competition parents' meeting, where we discuss travel, costumes, fundraising, guest choreography, choreography fees, entry fees, production and ballet company schedules and attendance. Parents and students must read and sign a waiver stating they agree to comply with all our requests, which includes a commitment from the dancers to be at the studio 30 minutes before class. If a child is ill, we ask that they not come to the studio—but they are responsible for learning what they missed.

We find that people respect our rules and know that we will hold them accountable. Decide what your commitment standard will be and be clear about it. Don't allow someone to make up their own rules. Hold everyone to the same standard, and everyone will reap the benefits.

Courtesy Meg Brooker

As the presidential election approaches, it's a particularly meaningful time to remember that we are celebrating the centennial of the 19th Amendment, when women earned the right to vote after a decades-long battle.

Movement was more than a metaphor for the fight for women's suffrage—dancers played a real role, most notably Florence Fleming Noyes, who performed her riveting solo Dance of Freedom in 1914 to embody the struggle for women's rights.

This fall, Middle Tennessee State University director of dance Meg Brooker is reconstructing Dance of Freedom on 11 of her students. A Noyes Rhythm teacher and an Isadora Duncan scholar, Brooker is passionate about bringing historic dance practices into a contemporary context.

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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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Teachers Trending
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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