September is an exciting month: Time to kick off a new year at the studio! Here’s advice from Robin Dawn, owner of Robin Dawn Dance Academy in Cape Coral, Florida, on how to get your season started on the right foot.
1 Spruce up your space. Paint the walls, hang new pictures, make repairs, clean the bathrooms—do whatever you can to make your studio feel welcoming for new visitors and clean and rejuvenated for those who are returning.
2 Hold a grand-opening event a few weeks before classes start. We call ours “Back to Dance.” We create a special registration day with refreshments and balloons, where people can come see the studio and meet the teachers. My company dancers demonstrate and perform, and we offer free 30-minute mini-classes so dancers can try out the different teachers and styles. We also have a raffle and giveaway one free month of classes. Events like these get people into the studio, and whether they sign up or not, you can get their information for follow-ups.
3 Advertise—it’s the best thing you can do. At the start of every year we put a big ad in the local newspapers right next to the school bus schedules. All the parents check that section to see what time their kids are getting picked up for school—and next to it they’ll see our studio.
4 Have a meet-and-greet event for your competition team. Once our entire team is selected, we plan to spend a day together at a local park. It’s a potluck for the dancers and their families. We introduce the new team members, play games like sack races and wheelbarrow races and teach everyone the Robin Dawn chant. We don’t do anything that has to do with dance on that day. We just have fun together.
5 Create a big brother/big sister program. At the start of the year, the competition team members get assigned a buddy. The seniors pick a younger dancer from the team to mentor all the way through Nationals—and they get really into it. They watch each other at competitions and help each other out backstage. It’s fun to watch them get attached and grow throughout the year together.
Photo: At Robin Dawn Dance, senior company members mentor younger dancers. (courtesy of Robin Dawn Dance Academy)