Studio Owners

Try These Revenue-Building Tips to Build Your Summer Biz

Summer campers at Center Stage in North Carolina. Photo by Kristi Hedberg, courtesy of Center Stage

Does your studio slow down when the weather warms up? If you don't offer a summer session, June through August can be a cash-flow challenge. One popular—and easy—strategy is to offer weeklong camps instead. We spoke to three professionals to learn how they make summer camp work.


Fair Haven and Rumson, NJ

Vanessa Berry, owner


•Weeklong morning camps that run from 9 am to 12 pm; each week covers a different genre or theme—ballet, princess camp, tap and pointe intensives—to satisfy various age groups and interests.

•One-day (three-hour) workshops arranged by age group or skill level.

•Three-week session of advanced technique clinics in the morning, grouped by level.

•Three evenings a week, the studio remains open for other classes.

Why it works The three-hour, weeklong camps are compatible with families' summer schedules. “I find most swimming or basketball camps run one week, too, so families are comfortable with these schedules," says Berry. “We're in a seaside community—a mom told me she loved that time frame. She could do grocery shopping and then pick up her daughters and go to the beach." The week-at-a-time schedule also allows families to fit classes around their vacation trips.

Flexibility is what makes the summer work: It extends to the mix of classes and rules for enrollment. Each of Berry's two locations has multiple rooms, so any given morning, multiple camps for different age groups can go full-swing. Registration runs from February 1 until the day before camp. “The most intense time for signing up is April," says Berry. “But if we have room, we'll accept students the morning of the first class."

Staffing Since teachers' employment remains constant yet flexible, with summer hours, they are happy and loyal. “All of our staff remains busy, with 50 to 60 kids at the studio each day," says Berry. As enrollment grows, she brings in teaching assistants and junior students.

Benefit for students “We had our biggest summer ever this year because we targeted programming to what parents want," says Berry, who opened up the 9 am to 12 pm schedule to the senior dancers in the form of advanced technique clinics. “Everyone kept up their skills," she says. “In fact, they gained. If I have them for three solid hours for five days, that's 15 weeks of a regular class. They learn so much when they have that concentrated time."

Business boost The morning schedule brought new students to the studio, including kids visiting relatives. “We now have people who return each summer just for the class," says Berry.

Rhythm Dance Center in Georgia offers "TWIRL Dance and Play Parties." Photo courtesy of Rhythm Dance Center


Marietta, GA

Becca Moore and Dani Rosenberg, owners


•Weekly themed play parties for youngsters

•Open classes geared toward intermediate and advanced dancers. Genres—ballet, tap, conditioning, Pilates, musical theater—change from week to week. “We may post some social media and send a mass e-mail to current students," says Rosenberg. “Some classes have eight students and some have 48. We do this twice a week and avoid holiday weeks." Students can pay by class ($12.50) or buy a class card and get a discount: five classes for $50, 10 for $90.

•Diehard Dancer Incentive: Any student who takes 20 open classes over the summer receives a T-shirt, a shout-out on social media and a free class with a guest teacher of their choice during the year. “They're getting better as dancers," says Rosenberg.

Why it works The weekly change of genres for open classes means many students end up taking more than one class. Play-party themes—usually based on children's characters, like Disney princesses—also change each week, encouraging more repeat business. “The key is changing it up every week so kids get to try new things," says Rosenberg. “We publish themes ahead of time and don't require preregistration for parties—they can show up and pay the day of. It's a great time to try different styles before they commit to a class for the season."

Staffing “I try to offer teachers two classes so they aren't driving to the studio for just one class," says Rosenberg. Teachers who work a special event, like a party, get a flat fee. High school–age assistants receive credit toward their tuition or competition team account.

Benefit for students The studio offers half-off summer class registration for new and returning students if they sign up by a certain date. Because requirements for themed parties are minimal—little ones can wear sneakers or socks, no dance shoes required—registration is high.

Business boost “We know our party themes and schedule in February," says Rosenberg. “The kids see it and immediately want to preregister, which gives a kick-start to summer cash flow. When they see how fun it is, they often end up registering for fall classes."


Asheville, NC

Michele Lee, owner


•One-week summer camp themes on popular books, movies and children's shows that will appeal to age groups 6 and under and 7 and up. Daily activities include crafts, dress-up, structured play and basic dance class. Each camp has plenty of variety to keep little ones engaged, including a photo shoot on Wednesday, water day on Thursday and an informal show for friends and family on Friday.

•Technique classes for elementary, middle and high school students to maintain and improve their skills over the summer. These classes vary in length depending on age: For ages 12 and up, they run for six weeks and include ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, acro and contemporary. Students ages 9 to 12 are offered five weeks of class in all the same genres. And 5- to 8-year-olds participate in a four-week program.

Why it works “Camps help market the studio to potential clients who may have little or no dance experience," says Lee. A flexible payment system entices students who may not otherwise be able to commit to technique classes. “We offer a full pass for all classes, or students may pay a drop-in fee. The full pass offers a significant discount."

Staffing Faculty earn their regular hourly rate for technique classes. Theme camp instructors get a weekly rate.

Benefits for students Campers receive a keepsake T-shirt and photo at Center Stage, along with daily take-home crafts. “We have several little ones who attend multiple theme camps over the summer," says Lee.

Business boost Reducing office hours during the summer months cuts down the operating budget—savings that pay for the studio to remain open and keep faculty working.

Dance Teachers Trending
Photo by Jerome Capasso, courtesy of Man in Motion

Finding a male dance instructor who isn't booked solid can be a challenge, which is why a New York City dance educator was inspired to start a network of male dance professionals in 2012. Since then, he's tripled his roster of teachers and is actively hiring.

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Owners
Getty Images

You've got the teaching talent, the years of experience, the space and the passion—now all you need are some students!

Here are six ideas for getting the word out about your fabulous, up-and-coming program! We simply can't wait to see all the talent you produce with it!

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teachers Trending
Photo by Todd Rosenberg, courtesy of HSDC

This fall Hubbard Street Dance Chicago initiates an innovative choreographic-study project to pair local Chicago teens with company member Rena Butler, who in 2018 was named the Hubbard Street Choreographic Fellow. The Dance Lab Choreographic Fellowship is the vision of Kathryn Humphreys, director of HSDC's education, youth and community programs. "I am really excited to see young people realize possibilities, and realize what they are capable of," she says. "I think that high school is such an interesting, transformative time. They are right on the edge of figuring themselves out."

Keep reading... Show less
Getty Images

Q: What policies do you put in place to encourage parents of competition dancers to pay their bills in a timely manner?

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Photo courtesy of Kim Black

For some children, the first day of dance is a magic time filled with make-believe, music, smiles and movement. For others, all the excitement can be a bit intimidating, resulting in tears and hesitation. This is perfectly natural, and after 32 years of experience, I've got a pretty good system for getting those timid tiny dancers to open up. It usually takes a few classes before some students are completely comfortable. But before you know it, those hesitant students will begin enjoying the magic of creative movement and dance.

Keep reading... Show less
Just for fun
Photo via @igor.pastor on Instagram

Listen up, dance teachers! October 7 is National Frappe Day (the drink), but as dance enthusiasts, we obviously like to celebrate a little differently. We've compiled four fun frappé combinations on Instagram for your perusal!

You're welcome! Now, you can thank us by sharing some of your own frappé favs on social media with the hashtag #nationalfrappeday.

We can't wait to see what you come up with!

Keep reading... Show less
Site Network
Original photos: Getty Images

We've been dying to hear more about "On Pointe," a docuseries following students at the School of American Ballet, since we first got wind of the project this spring. Now—finally!—we know where this can't-miss show is going to live: It was just announced that Disney+, the new streaming service set to launch November 12, has ordered the series.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Photo by Tony Nguyen, courtesy of Jill Randall

Recently I got to reflect on my 22-year-old self and the first modern technique classes I subbed for at Shawl-Anderson Dance Center in Berkeley, California. (Thank you to Dana Lawton for giving me the chance and opportunity to dive in.)

Today I wanted to share 10 ideas to consider as you embark upon subbing and teaching modern technique classes for the first time. These ideas can be helpful with adult classes and youth classes alike.

As I like to say, "Teaching takes teaching." I mean, teaching takes practice, trial and error and more practice. I myself am in my 23rd year of teaching now and am still learning and growing each and every class.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Misti Ridge teaches class at Center Stage Performing Arts Studio. Photo by Arlyn Lawrence , courtesy of Ridge

The dance teachers who work with kids ages 5–7 have earned themselves a special place in dance heaven. They give artists the foundation for their future with impossibly high energy and even higher voices. Enthusiasm is their game, and talent is their aim! Well, that, self-esteem, a love for dance, discipline and so much more!

These days, teachers often go a step beyond giving tiny dancers technical and performative bases and make them strong enough to actually compete at a national level—we're talking double-pirouettes-by-the-time-they're-5-years-old type of competitive.

We caught up with one such teacher, Misti Ridge from Center Stage Performing Arts Studio, The Dance Awards 2019 and 2012 Studio of The Year, to get the inside scoop on how she does it. The main takeaway? Don't underestimate your baby competition dancers—those 5- to 7-year-olds can work magic.

Keep reading... Show less
Site Network
Patrick Randak, Courtesy In The Lights PR

The ability to communicate clearly is something I've been consumed with for as long as I can remember. I was born in the Bronx and always loved city living. But when I was 9, a family crisis forced my mom to send me to Puerto Rico to live with my grandparents. I only knew one Spanish word: "hola." I remember the frustration and loneliness of having so many thoughts and feelings and not being able to express them.

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Success with Just for Kix
Courtesy Just for Kix

As a teacher or studio owner, customer service is a major part of the job. It's easy to dread the difficult sides of it, like being questioned or criticized by an unhappy parent. "In the early years, parent issues could have been the one thing that got me to give up teaching," says Cindy Clough, executive director of Just For Kix and a teacher and studio owner with over 43 years of experience. "Hang in there—it does get easier."

We asked Clough her top tips for dealing with difficult parents:

Keep reading... Show less


Get DanceTeacher in your inbox