Best Studio Practice: Getting Your Hiring Process Up to Speed

Running a business means dealing with employees and, as the saying goes, it’s hard to find good help. Every studio director wants good teachers who care about the students and have a love of dance and a knack for teaching. The problem is figuring out which job applicants are most likely to give you the right combination of those qualities. There’s no easy solution, but there are ways to narrow the field while learning as much as possible about each person who applies for the job. Keep reading for tips to a smoother-sailing interviewing and hiring process.


1. Always have prospective teachers fill out an actual application form to ensure you have uniform information about the candidate, no matter how elaborate or simple their resumé is. Use this information to guide your questions, if you decide to schedule an interview.



2. Find out why each potential hire wants to teach at your school and ask about their preferences in dance style, class size, age group and other teaching duties. Make sure any new hire has a teaching style compatible with other instructors at your studio, as you want to find the best match for your studio’s needs.



3. When narrowing down your list, learn more about each possible candidate by checking their personal references and calling previous employers. Question their office behavior, ability to work with others, work ethic, reliability, promptness and amount of absences. But don’t be surprised if former employers aren’t willing to discuss the details.



4. Post-interview is also a good time to review any portfolio and video materials submitted by the applicants. Look through each with a careful eye, paying close attention to their performance and choreography. And remember, not all professional dancers necessarily make good teachers.



5. Once you’ve narrowed down your list of potential hires to a few lucky prospects, invite each to teach a mock class at your studio to observe their teaching style. Especially pay close attention to how they treat the not-so-good students or those who are having trouble learning a certain step. After the class, ask the dancers for their opinions. Listen carefully to their comments and concerns. Proceed with caution if there are any immediate personality clashes.


Parts of this originally from "Help Wanted" by Stacy Smith.


Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

Keep reading... Show less
Higher Ed
The author, Robyn Watson. Photo courtesy Watson

Recently, I posted a thread of tweets elucidating the lack of respect for tap dance in college dance programs, and arguing that it should be a requirement for dance majors.

According to, out of the 30 top-ranked college dance programs in the U.S., tap dance is offered at 19 of them, but only one school requires majors to take more than a beginner course—Oklahoma City University. Many prestigious dance programs, like the ones at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and SUNY Purchase, don't offer a single course in tap dance.

Keep reading... Show less
Teaching Tips
Getty Images

After months of lockdowns and virtual learning, many studios across the country are opening their doors and returning to in-person classes. Teachers and students alike have likely been chomping at the bit in anticipation of the return of dance-class normalcy that doesn't require a reliable internet connection or converting your living room into a dance space.

But along with the back-to-school excitement, dancers might be feeling rusty from being away from the studio for so long. A loss of flexibility, strength and stamina is to be expected, not to mention emotional fatigue from all of the uncertainty and reacclimating to social activities.

So as much as everyone wants to get back to normal—teachers and studio owners included—erring on the side of caution with your dancers' training will be the most beneficial approach in the long run.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.