It is the goal of every studio director to have a business which flourishes and is successful; a studio where dancers are there to learn and perfect their craft. Where student support systems are built of parents and family who understand the commitment and requirements asked of them throughout their training; where the daily activities run like clockwork and there is an unspoken flow to the rhythm of the daily routine. It is the ideal that everyone plays their part in this dance ecosystem and automatically engages in daily operations; teachers teach, directors direct, dancers dance and managers manage. But how do you get to that place where everything works effectively and runs like clockwork? When and how does it get to the point where your business knows how to run itself? Well, I'm not sure if your business will ever truly run itself but one way to get to a point of getting a handle on it all is to start with organization and clarity. Being organized and clear in terms of your expectations is the prerequisite for all other things to follow. Without having a clear sense of how you want your studio to run, there will inevitably be dissention in the ranks.

This is particularly true with your dancers. As with any child, rules, guidelines, expectations, etc. are set into place to provide boundaries, to help them assimilate into a culture and apply proper behavior and etiquette in the world. Expectations may vary from household to household, school to school and dance studio to dance studio, so it's up to you, the director to set what these expectations are so you are transparent and they know the drill.

So, how do you set expectations? Well, think about your clientele and your student. Is it a training facility, a recreational studio, a performing arts center? What are the goals of your dancers? What are your goals for your teachers? What is your studio's mission statement? This is a great place to start. Now, the most important thing when setting your studio's expectations is consistency and follow-through. Whatever your studio expectations are need to be understood and followed from your littlest ones through you most advanced and oldest. This is how that studio culture is going to be cultivated.

So what are these expectations? Well they can range from anything from things like:

  • Preparation is the key to success. Dancers should be prepared physically, mentally and emotionally for class.

  • Engage in the mind-set that class time is an opportunity for progress and growth

  • Maintain a mind-body awareness of others and your surroundings

  • Visualize how teacher's comments, feedback, critique and praise will assist in your preparation towards becoming a professional dancer

  • Remember your dance Studio is your home away from home

  • Be visually aware of where unnecessary shoes, trash, liquids, food, etc. belong and do not

  • Work as a group to be mindful of YOUR space at all times, (especially upon entry and exit.) Maintain cleanliness and condition of studio for later classes as well.

  • Wear the title of dancer respectfully

  • Be mindful of your purpose in the dance studio

  • Maintain focus throughout lesson using your visual, audio and physical awareness

  • Respect yourself and others at all times

  • Respect YOUR 'sacred' space & art

  • Take responsibility of your technique, education and etiquette

  • Be sensitive to fellow dancers' process

  • Demonstrate unity and encouragement for fellow dancers

  • Have fun! Enjoy yourself and remember why you dance!

Remembering that the expectations you set not only for your dancers but your faculty, staff and even yourself as director are going to become your studio's unspoken language. This is where your long term mission and overarching goal alongside daily activities become one and work together. Deciding how what you want your studio culture to be will be the first step in identifying who you are in the dance studio world and will trickle down the line so that everyone is working together to accomplish a common goal! Good Luck!