How to Prepare Your Dance Studio Staff for a Successful Recital

As dance studio owners, recital weekend is a big deal.  We work toward it all year.  We have stress dreams of recital day disaster leading up to it.  We obsess over every detail.  When the day finally comes, we want everything to come off without a hitch.  We want all of our students, staff and audience to have a beautiful day to remember.  For you, a truly successful recital is one indicator of your overall personal success as a dance studio owner. However, no studio owner is an island.  Whether you have a big staff, or a handful of volunteers to help you, your recital is going to be a team effort, so how can you maximize the synergy of the team that you have?

Start by creating a shared vision of what a successful recital will look like.  To take that further, what will success look like in each area of your recital; not just the show itself, but backstage, in the dressing rooms, and the lobby?  What will success look like in the different stages of the timeline; preparation and packing up everything that needs to go to the venue, load-in, dress rehearsal, student check-in, the performance, strike and even after the show.

For example, at my shows, I want to see a safe backstage area with skilled technicians doing their job efficiently, quiet and tidy dressing rooms where students are happily engaged in fun activities while they wait, a lobby that is organized for quick ticketing and beautifully decorated in the theme of our show.  I want all stages of the preparation and execution to be as efficient as possible with each person involved knowing exactly what their job is and when they need to do it.

Once you and your team have a clear shared vision of each area and each stage of the process, clarify who is in charge or of each area and work together to determine what action steps will produce the desired outcome in their assigned area.

Provide each staff member or volunteer with the resources to be successful in the fulfillment of the shared vision.  Some examples would be to equip dressing room volunteers with a list  of ideas of age appropriate activities for the classes they are in charge of to do while they are waiting in the dressing room.  Arm the person working at the student sign in table with an organized checklist and the answers to the questions that parents are going to have.  Make sure that the person setting up the lobby has everything they need to make it beautiful and make all of the ticketing and merchandise sales go smoothly.  

The most important resources that you can provide your team are a support structure and clear chain of command.  Each person needs to know what decisions they should make on their own, what decisions should be made by someone higher up the chain, and exactly who they should go to if they have a question or need help.

Consider assigning a manager to each area.  Spend some extra time with that person to train them and equip them with the knowledge that they need.  If your dance studio has been around for a while, pick someone that has more experience with your recitals.  Choose one volunteer or staff member to be the “go-to” person for questions and executive decisions for all dressing room issues, one front of house manager for all lobby, merchandise, and ticketing issues, one costume manager if you have costumes that are owned by your studio instead of your students.

Equip each manager with the knowledge they need to make effective decisions for their area and let them know the types of issues or questions that you feel need to be brought to you.  The more clear your shared vision is, the more empowered each of your team members will be.  That will mean that fewer questions will come to you, the dance studio owner, and you will be able to relax and enjoy the show.

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