Being a studio owner involves the constant juggling of many hats; often all at the same time. Certain seasons and groupings of dancers lend itself to everyone being connected, excited and full of team spirit. However, that sense of camaraderie and team focus doesn’t always surface and if it does, can dwindle; only to have to be rebuilt all over again once a new season begins. I began to think that perhaps the biggest hat studio directors have to wear is that of cheerleader. If we were to look at the role as the “team captain,” it really does start with keeping motivation and momentum going in order to achieve a common goal. Realistically, it all has to start with enthusiasm, passion, desire, commitment and focus in order to achieve individual and group success; and if the captain isn’t motivating their team from Day #1, the game is over before it’s begun!
It is undoubtedly a huge feat to think of all the team players who need hyping up for sure; the students, parents, faculty, etc., all with different goals and concerns. In the most basic terms, students need to feel excited about what is ahead and confident that their goals are obtainable with hard work and commitment. Parents most often need reassurance that their child is getting the best training around for their money and understand why certain protocol and things are put into place for their young dancer’s education and faculty need to feel appreciated, recognized and respected for their time and efforts.
Below are some successful ways I have seen studio directors kick-start team spirit to set the tone for all. Remembering that consistency and follow-through are key elements in implementing this kind of camaraderie, you too can set the tone for success and studio pride!
- Think about having “”Welcome Back Family” events at the start of the season. Send home calendars or email blasts to families with invitations to things like block parties, ice-cream socials, family potluck BBQs, tea & cupcake meet & greets, etc. This is a great way for new students to socialize with returning students! Also, think of opening the events up to your community to bring in new registration! Maybe have students perform choreography they’ve been learning at summer intensives as well!
- Bring in favorite master teachers for choreography workshops with the weeks leading up to the new season! Again, open this up to the community to bring in new registration!
- FUNDRAISERS!!! Have your company members organize family fundraiser events for competition/costume fees, dance concert outings, charity donations, etc.! Think about bake-sales, car washes, auctions of dancers’ art work, flee-market day where company members and the studio can sell gently used costumes, dance attire, shoes, etc.
- STUDIO SLEEPOVERS! This one is always and hit and the dancers absolutely love having a sleepover with their friends at the studio! This is a great time to play games, watch movies and have different ages and levels interact and get to know each other. Make up dances, crafts, share stories, etc. Not only does an event like this help dancers to mingle and share in team building exercises, it always gives studio parents a night off! :)
- CONTESTS!!!!! How about an essay contest on “Why I dance?” “I am an artist because….” “My Dance Inspiration,” etc. Or how about an art contest where dancers can take their visual art inclinations and paint, sketch or draw how they see dance on a canvas. Artwork of finalists can be framed and displayed in the hallways of your studios to make a mini-dance art gallery. People can then buy the works throughout the year where the profits go to a studio scholarship fund. Contest prizes can also include: partial scholarships, coverage of costume fees, dance gear, a new pair of dance shoes, etc.?
- How about one-day education workshops for your students and parents? Bun-making lessons, stage make-up classes, how-to’s on maintaining and sewing ballet/pointe shoes properly, parent-child improvisation or yoga class, discussion panels for parents on relevant topics like, “understanding your teenage dancer,” how to balance weekly schedules with your child,” “helping your child take control over their dance training,” “helping your young dancer maintain healthy nutrition and safe-body practices,” etc., etc.
- Set aside a separate event where you can welcome your faculty and have your introductory meeting; maybe a breakfast or luncheon? Or… if it is difficult with everyone’s schedule to be at the “same place, same time,” perhaps a gesture of a card or beautiful stationary and small welcome-back token with a personalized newsletter of all you would have covered in your meeting. This is a great way to let your staff know you are thrilled they are back as part of the team!
- For parents and company members, think about having a separate meeting with them to go through all of the amazing things you have lined up for the year ahead. Go through what being in company entails regarding: the commitment, attendance, the financial aspects, scheduling, dancer responsibilities, etc. Parents are then well aware of everything and can discuss with their child whether it is feasible and ultimately something they want and can follow-through with for the year before signing company commitment contracts.
While these are just a few of the things you can experiment with, I’m sure many of you have your own ideas as well! The goal is to go for it and see what sense of community you can build and grow together as a studio family!
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