Goods: Summer Studio Checklist

All year long it’s about your students. Now that summer has arrived, it’s time to focus on your business. Use our checklist to take inventory of your technology and equipment needs. Investing now can save you time, money and hassle in the long run

 

SOFTWARE:

 

Are you still running your business off spreadsheets? If so, you could greatly benefit from investing in studio management software. Maybe you do have a program, but it’s a little outdated. You may be surprised at how much time and energy you can save with a new system. Many programs allow students to register and pay bills online and check in for class by swiping an ID card. Overwhelmed with recital planning? Some programs make costume sizing and ordering a breeze and prevent scheduling conflicts, so dancers have enough time to change between numbers.

 

INSURANCE:

 

Has your enrollment grown in the past year? Regardless, it’s a good idea to review the terms and limits of your general liability and workers’ compensation policies. Do you need additional protection for special events and fundraisers? Make sure your coverage extends beyond the walls of your studio—accidents often happen in high-pressure situations like competitions and performances.

 

MUSIC:

 

Tunes can make or break a class—add some variety to your library. Expand genres and try using unexpected music. It will force students to pay more attention to their musicality and may change your phrasing. And make sure you’re up-to-date with your music rights memberships through ASCAP (www.ascap.com) and BMI (www.bmi.com). Copyright laws should be followed even if you’re not using the music for performance.

 

FLOORS:

 

Proper flooring is one of the most vital elements of a studio. If you’ve expanded classes with the rise in popularity of yoga and Zumba, or have started renting to supplement income, your floors must also adapt. Think about dedicating rooms to specific techniques with appropriate floors, or get all-purpose marley. If you can’t afford or don’t need to do a full replacement, many companies sell finishes that fill in scratches and cover stains. As always, use this time to give your studios a thorough cleaning, refinishing wood floors and using pH-neutral heavy-duty cleaners for vinyl.

 

BARRES:

 

Portable barres can help you make the best use of your space and are great for teaching a range of ages. These either come with a lower and upper barre or have adjustable features. It also means that little dancers, whose classwork often faces the barre, won’t get distracted staring at the wall. Take time to ensure that permanent barres are secure and splinter-free.

 

MIRRORS:

 

Dancers spend hours looking at themselves in the mirror; why not make sure the material is clear and safe? Shatterproof glassless mirrors are worry-free and don’t require an additional insurance rider, but they are more vulnerable to punctures and tears. If you want to help soundproof studios, go with glass, which adds an extra barrier between rooms.

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.

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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.

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Studio Owners
Courtesy Tonawanda Dance Arts

If you're considering starting a summer program this year, you're likely not alone. Summer camp and class options are a tried-and-true method for paying your overhead costs past June—and, done well, could be a vehicle for making up for lost 2020 profits.

Plus, they might take on extra appeal for your studio families this year. Those struggling financially due to the pandemic will be in search of an affordable local programming option rather than an expensive, out-of-town intensive. And with summer travel still likely in question this spring as July and August plans are being made, your studio's local summer training option remains a safe bet.

The keys to profitable summer programming? Figuring out what type of structure will appeal most to your studio clientele, keeping start-up costs low—and, ideally, converting new summer students into new year-round students.

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