Studio Owners

Here Are 6 Tips For Keeping Your Sub List Stacked This Summer Vacation Season

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Rarely does a week in the summer go by without at least one of your classes needing a substitute teacher. Your team of teachers has worked tirelessly all year, and after surviving Nationals (or your studio's big summer intensive) they deserve to take a family vacation or two.

But filling those classes with substitutes can get tricky in the middle of July and August. EVERYONE is going on vacation at this time of year—not just your staff teachers.

To keep you from getting left high and dry this summer, we recommend you beef up that go-to sub list, so that if one teacher can't do it, another one can. No need to cancel class—we've got you covered!

You're welcome!

1. Start with your pool of regular teachers

Your current staff should be at the top of your studio-wide substitute list. They know what your kids need and are your best chance of holding a class that doesn't disrupt the flow of their dance education. Organize your teachers into genre, and have the list include their name, e-mail and phone number for quick last-minute contact.

2. Reach out to all previous subs

Next, include the list of teachers who have substituted classes at your studio previously. This takes a little bit of planning. Be sure that any time someone subs any class at your studio, they leave their name, e-mail, number and teaching focus. Unless the last time they taught was a total disaster, if they have subbed for you before, you can feel confident in bringing them back in again.

3. Contact your graduated, former students

You trained them, so you can feel confident that they know what they are doing! Make sure you keep a list of all previous students with teaching aspirations on your substitute-teaching list. Many of them are likely home from college, or even living near the studio, and would love the chance to teach for you.

4. Post a listing on social media

Announce on your studio's social-media pages that you are looking for substitutes for summer classes. You may even have teachers from other studios reaching out and looking for extra work. Of course do your due diligence in discovering if they are qualified before bringing them in to your studio.

*If you don't get many responses, consider posting the specific dates that you need a substitute closer to the dates.

5. Tap in to your nearest college dance school program

Reach out to the head of the dance program at the college nearest to you, and request the names and contact info of people who might be interested in taking on substitute opportunities. College students are always looking for the chance to make a little extra cash.

6. Pull from your studio's adult class

If there are any talented dancers who attend your studio's adult class, don't be afraid to reach out to them to discover their previous teaching experience, and see if they might be interested in doing more of it.

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Securing the correct music licensing for your studio is an important step in creating a financially sound business. "Music licensing is something studio owners seem to either embrace or ignore completely," says Clint Salter, CEO and founder of the Dance Studio Owners Association. While it may seem like it's a situation in which it's easier to ask for forgiveness rather than permission—that is, to wait until you're approached by a music-rights organization before purchasing a license—Salter disagrees, citing Peloton, the exercise company that produces streaming at-home workouts. In February, Peloton settled a music-licensing suit with the National Music Publishers' Association out-of-court for an undisclosed amount. Originally, NMPA had sought $300 million in damages from Peloton. "It can get extremely expensive," says Salter. "It's not worth it for a studio to get caught up in that."

As you continue to explore a hybrid online/in-person version of your class schedule, it's crucial that your music licenses include coverage for livestreamed instruction—which comes with its own particular requirements. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about music licensing—in both normal times and COVID times—as well as some safe music bets that won't pose any issues.

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

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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.

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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.

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