Leading Your Dance Community Out of the COVID-19 Crisis
by Laura Cole from DanceStudio-Pro
The COVID-19 pandemic presented challenges the dance world had never experienced before. Dance studio owners and teachers like yourself had to adjust to remote classes or limited socially distanced in-person training. Your dance students faced months of uncertainty, without any competitions or recitals on the horizon.
But it’s a new era, and your dance studio is likely looking to a brighter future. As the vaccine campaign continues to roll out, perhaps your studio is looking to expand in-person classes even more or make a comeback with competitions and live performances. Your dance community will need strong leadership in this transition as your dancers, instructors, and dance parents adjust to in-person activities.
To lead your dance studio out of the current crisis and prepare everyone to get back in the swing of things, be sure to:
- Strategize your transition from virtual to in-person classes.
- Increase your communication with multiple outreach channels.
- Expand your offerings.
- Be transparent.
- Give yourself and your dance community grace.
Here at DanceStudio-Pro, we equip dance studio owners with the studio management technology tools they need to successfully manage and grow their businesses. Through this work, we’ve seen firsthand how these tips, combined with the right management strategies, can bring dance studios together after periods of uncertainty and contribute to continued growth and success. Let’s dive in!
1. Strategize your transition from virtual to in-person classes.
Throughout the past year, you’ve likely had a combination of virtual, in-person, and hybrid classes and events. With the vaccine rollout, you probably have more students returning to in-person classes and you’ve likely even got a few upcoming events on the schedule such as a recital or competition.
Students who’ve taken a break or who are returning to the studio after taking virtual classes might need more support in this transitional period. Our top tips for dance studio owners are to provide support to help students manage their return to classes and to maintain your virtual options for unexpected future events.
For example, ensure all students are prepared for the return to classes by sending reminders about your studio policies and any new health and safety guidelines. This is especially important if you teach younger students — they’ll need reminders and time to practice any masking or social-distancing policies you have in place.
Also, students who’ve taken several months off from performing or spent some time taking virtual classes might feel rusty or like they’ve fallen behind their peers. Take a special effort to check in with these students and reassure them whenever they face anxiety or frustration.
Finally, we recommend retaining some level of virtual class capabilities. The COVID-19 situation is still uncertain, and there’s always a chance for cases to rise. Plus, if you can host virtual classes, you’ll be prepared for any other unexpected situations, like a snow day or rainout. This can help you pivot if you need to at any time throughout the transition period.
2. Increase your communication with multiple outreach channels.
Improving your communication should be one of your main priorities as you lead your dance studio out of the current crisis. Your dancers need to stay updated on things like:
- The expectations and regulations for in-person classes
- Notes and feedback from their instructors
- Guidelines for upcoming performances or competitions
Also, their caregivers need to know information about:
- Class, recital, and competition schedules
- Dance gear they’ll need to purchase for rehearsals and performances
- In-person procedures for things like drop-off and pick-up
To ensure everyone has the information they need, expand your communication channels to send updates quickly and efficiently. Make sure you’re communicating via:
Email: With a platform like MailChimp or HubSpot, you can send mass emails to your entire dance community, or segment your audience to just send messages to specific groups. For example, you can create a group for each age level or company within your studio. This ensures everyone receives relevant information.
Social media: This is another effective medium for communicating with your entire community at once. You can also use social media to promote your studio to a wider audience of prospective new students and their parents.
Dance studio app: According to DanceStudio-Pro’s overview of dance studio apps, studio owners can use mobile apps to send push notifications, communicate with a message board, and share videos, teacher notes, and class listings. You can use this platform to conveniently share updates directly to your students’ and parents’ phones.
Expanding your communication methods helps reduce misunderstandings or scheduling confusion. This is especially important since you’re likely planning upcoming performances or competition appearances, and everyone’s probably a little out of practice with these events after taking several months off. In this transition period, the more communication, the better so everyone is on the same page.
3. Expand your offerings.
During the quarantine period, your studio probably faced a revenue drop. If that’s the case, you’re not alone — studios all over the country faced the same issue. Dance is an in-person artform, after all, and it’s hard to recreate the same experience for your students while conducting virtual classes.
Many dance studio owners are finding that by expanding their studio offerings, they can recover some of that lost revenue and even expand their studio and attract new customers. For example, studios are thriving in the post-COVID era by:
- Hosting virtual and in-person class options
- Expanding class offerings to include solo and small group lessons
- Creating on-demand virtual content for sale
- Hosting live virtual events
- Leading webinars to advise fellow dance teachers and studio owners
- Designing and selling merchandise in their studios and online
- Exploring opportunities for affiliate marketing to promote quality products and earn a commission
Consider your skill set and the amount of extra time you have to start exploring some of these unique, outside-the-norm opportunities. By diversifying your studio offerings, you’ll give yourself the ability to pivot if one aspect of your studio strategy is disrupted. For example, if your in-person classes have to pause for any reason, you can increase your virtual or on-demand class options to maintain a revenue stream.
Further, when you host an event such as a webinar, you can boost your studio’s reputation and brand awareness, which grows your influence in the industry even more.
Lastly, these opportunities provide more value for your students and enhance your dance community as a whole. When you provide students with access to on-demand classes, for instance, they can work on their skills outside of class and catch up on any lost training time.
4. Be transparent.
As a dance studio owner, you want to be strong for your dancers and appear as if you have all the answers. But the truth is that you don’t have all the answers, and there’s no way you can predict what will happen in the future. It’s better to be honest and transparent with your dancers and keep them updated as situations change.
For instance, if you’ve experienced a revenue drop in the last year or anytime throughout your transition back to in-person classes, you can turn to your dance studio for assistance. Remember that you don’t have to deal with everything yourself — you’ve got a whole community backing you! Your dance students and parents would likely be very willing to get involved because they love their dance community as much as you do.
Explore unique fundraising ideas like those in this guide such as a dance-a-thon, peer-to-peer fundraiser, or a Facebook fundraiser. You can engage your community with a fun and exciting opportunity to help out. Also, these ideas aren’t too complicated, so anyone can get involved even if they don’t have fundraising experience.
If you teach young students, 99Pledges offers plenty of fundraising ideas for kids that are great for younger dancers. Events like a color run, face painting event, or a bake sale are great ways to get them involved and even teach them a few new skills along the way, like how to handle money.
If you reach out to your community and speak truthfully about your situation, you’ll be amazed at how many people are willing to help your studio.
5. Give yourself and your dance community grace.
Our last piece of advice is to exercise patience and extend grace to yourself and your dance community. The new normal of the post-COVID era will present challenges and obstacles to everyone, but it’s important to take the hard times in stride.
Whenever you start to feel like the hurdles are too much to handle, remember to take a reality check. You’ve already made it this far amid extraordinarily challenging circumstances, and that’s an accomplishment that deserves to be celebrated. Nothing is truly “back to normal” yet, and your dance community understands that things won’t be exactly the same as before.
Also, spend some time revisiting your guiding principles and values. Reflect on why you became a dance instructor in the first place and the fulfillment you feel from your profession. When you reconnect with your core values, you can reference them whenever you’re faced with hard decisions or challenges.
When you cultivate an intentional, grounded mindset, your instructors and students will take notice, and you can foster a stronger dance community from the top down.
With a positive attitude and a few enhanced management strategies, you can lead your dance community out of the COVID-19 crisis and prepare your dancers for future performances and competitions. Remember to maintain steady communication and cultivate transparency and grace among your staff and dancers. Good luck!
Author bio: For more than 15 years, Laura Cole has focused on strategic planning and project management for SaaS organizations. Laura became the CEO of DanceStudio-Pro in 2020. Laura is a wife, mom, yogi and volunteer.