Q: I’ve seen firsthand at other studios how the recreational students often fall by the wayside when a studio owner focuses all of her attention and know-how on her competition team. I want to make sure I avoid making that mistake. Do you have any advice on how to distribute my time and efforts to each student fairly?
A: Recreational dancers are the bread and butter of any studio, and we need to make sure that they receive the same level of attention that we give to our competitive dancers. One way I do this is by having my competition faculty, including myself, teach recreational classes as well as competitive ones. This way, all students feel that they are getting the same high level of training, and it definitely gives my competition teachers a better perspective. It also allows the teachers to scout any young dancer who has the potential to join the part-time or full-time company.
It can be difficult to balance both levels during competition season. We never cancel a recreational class to replace it with a competitive one. If you need extra classes with a competition group, bring them in on an off-day so that you do not disrupt the schedule. We also keep our teaching staff on as regular a schedule as possible, rather than allowing them to miss class for a competition.
Making a big deal of your open houses and knowing all the dancers’ names in your classes go a long way in making them feel comfortable in class. Get your dancers excited about year-end routines, costume delivery and picture days. These things remind recreational dancers that they are an important part of your dance family.
It’s not always easy, but finding ways to meet the needs of your entire dance family and making everyone feel important is essential to your studio’s success.
Joanne Chapman is the owner of the award-winning Joanne Chapman School of Dance in Ontario, Canada.
Photo courtesy of Dance Teacher Summit