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Dance Studio Owners


Take a second and think about the kind of studio director you currently are. Are you a single owner trying to manage everything yourself or is your business a well-oiled machine with a full staff and faculty? Whatever the scenario, nobody can do it alone (at least not forever) and expect to have a balanced work and personal life in the long run. Taking the steps to slowly build an environment where you are not the sole employee of your business can change the direction and success of the business itself while avoiding burn-out to your own well-being. ...

While you may be a new or small business, give yourself time to branch out. Yes, at first you must toil and put in the labor necessary for initial success. After a while, you owe it to yourself to investigate the benefits of taking on staff, other than your teachers. These  special people can use their unique talents to free you up to be more “involved” in other ways within your own business; whether it be to teach or choreograph more, socialize and know more about the comings and goings of day to day life at the studio, interact more with clients, network, plan ahead, etc.


First off, decide which areas of the business are necessary for you to oversee first hand. While some of you are thinking, “well… every area is necessary,” yes, true, but think about areas that can be delegated to others and brought to you for your approval or insight. Can you bring in someone to work the desk and greet people, handle phones, registration, tuition, scheduling, etc? Do you have someone who can handle marketing and publicity design? Someone who can oversee your studio’s newsletter or blog? Someone to handle costuming and wardrobe organization? Someone to clean the studio and upkeep the general maintenance of the place, etc.?


My second piece of advice is to give great thought before handing over these “responsibilities” and take your time to surround yourself with people you trust, who are efficient and reliable, those you’ve known for a number of years (if feasible,) those whose work ethic matches yours and those who have the same mind-set regarding the mission, philosophy and success of your studio. Those whom you employee should be insightful and respectful as to how you run your business and how you go about handling certain scenarios. Finding this kind of staff is golden and may take time.


However, some studio directors do find it difficult to give up the “control” when they do. From experience, I have seen those who think they want help but are disgruntled if every task is not executed in the same exact way they would have. Decide first if you are able to “trust” and respect the staff you hire and decide what is imperative to be carried out “your way” vs. what things won’t make a difference in terms of  process (as long as the end result is the same.) You have to want the help and be open to suggestions and while some studio directors have a problem letting anyone in on their “baby,” you may also be missing out some wonderful, creative and new energy in which to pump fresh blood into the studio.


Finally if budget is an issue in terms of hiring staff, think of other ways which may work for you. Do you have a retired family member looking to do some volunteer work? A parent who may be suffering from the economic climate and would like to barter in exchange for partial tuition for their child? Or, do you have a mature, senior company member who is a whiz either on the computer, with web design, up on latest technological trends, etc, who can work in exchange for partial scholarship? There are tons of ways to bring in a great support team to surround yourself with.


While it is important to delineate the line of professional and personal relationship at the studio, you can find a balance to create a family environment as well. When this happens, it’s wonderful and all those working become a well-oiled machine themselves and have a wonderful rapport with one another. Over time, this will free you up to actually enjoy your business and reinforce why you opened up the dance studio to begin with.  Food for thought…..


Best of luck this season!

See you in the dance studio,





Jessica Rizzo Stafford

Jessica Rizzo Stafford

Jessica Rizzo Stafford is a native New Yorker and graduate of NYU Steinhardt's Dance Education Master’s Program; with a PK-12 New York State Teaching Certification. Her double-concentration Master’s Degree includes PK-12 pedagogy and dance education within the higher-education discipline. She also holds a BFA in dance performance from the UMASS Amherst 5 College Dance Program where she was a Chancellor's Talent Award recipient. Jess now works extensively with children, adolescents and professionals as choreographer and teacher and conducts national and international master-classes specializing in the genres of modern, contemporary, musical theatre and choreography-composition. Jess’ national and international performance career includes works such as: The National Tour of Guys & Dolls, The European Tour of Grease, West Side Story, Cabaret, Sweet Charity, Salute to Dudley Moore at Carnegie Hall, guest-dancer with the World Famous Pontani Sisters and IMPULSE Modern Dance Company. Jess has been a faculty member for the Perichild Program & Peridance Youth Ensemble & taught contemporary and jazz at the historic New Dance Group and 92nd Street Y in NYC. She was Company Director at the historic Steffi Nossen School of Dance/Dance in Education Fund and in 2008 traveled to Uganda where she taught creative-movement to misplaced children. The experience culminated with Jess being selected as a featured instructor at the Queen's Kampala Ballet & Modern Dance School. She has conducted workshops for the cast of LA REVE at the Wynn, Las Vegas and recently taught at the 2011 IDS International Dance Teacher Conference at The Royal Ballet in London, UK. She is also on faculty for the annual Dance Teacher Web Conferences in Las Vegas, NV. Currently, Jess is a faculty member at the D'Valda & Sirico Dance & Music Centre and master teacher & adjudicator for various national and international dance competitions. Recently, she has finished her NYU Master’s thesis research on the choreographic process of technically advanced adolescent dancers and is the creator of “PROJECT C;” a choreography-composition curriculum for the private studio sector. Jess is also faculty member, contributing writer and presenter in the choreography and “how to” teaching segments on the celebrated For more info, visit her website at

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