You’ve seen the popular internet memes for life hacks—tricks, shortcuts and novelties to increase your productivity and efficiency—so why not try out a few for your studio? With some simple tweaks, you can follow in the footsteps of these savvy owners and save time, money and your sanity.
1. Go Paperless with Your Recital Programs.
Cynthia King was sick of shelling out money to print programs that end up on the theater floor. So instead, in 2013, she came up with a great idea. Now she projects a slide presentation of each piece’s title, choreographer and dancers for her eponymous Brooklyn studio’s recital. Not only does she save money and paper, she can stave off typical printing mistakes last-minute. “This past year, we had somebody from backstage run up to the sound booth and type in someone’s name that was missing during the piece before!” she says. For her next recital, she plans to approach local businesses to place ads that she’ll project before the show.
2. Put Your Costume Inventory to Good Use
“We just built a new studio, and the acoustics in the room are really terrible,” says Cynthia King, “so I hang old costumes around the room up high on the wall. It helps absorb sound—taking out the reverb, the echo—and decorates the room.”
3. Eliminate Cash Exchanges for Incidentals
“I have a few students who never remember to bring water with them, and they’re of the age where their parents aren’t around to give them a dollar,” says Emily Harrington, a teacher at Dance Dreamworks in Kingston, Massachusetts. She used cardstock to create Ballerina Bucks: Parents can purchase a $5 card at any point, valid for five waters or snacks—students carry the card with them and no longer need to have cash on hand.
4. Inspire Reluctant Students with a Special Incentive
If you’ve noticed that students opt not to continue with dance at a certain age—when they begin high school, for example—consider an old-fashioned bribe to encourage registration for the following fall: Trophies! Recognize dancers for achieving multiple years of dance instruction with trophies, medals or other personalized awards, given out at key age levels. Present the awards at the end of your recital or in a special separate ceremony to give the event extra significance.
5. Boost your studio brand with a photo filter or background.
Becca Moore of Rhythm Dance Center in Marietta, Georgia, makes sure that her studio’s social-media posts reflect the brand she’s cultivating. Vivid colors, fun patterns, glitter and confetti convey RDC’s atmosphere and aesthetic: “We’re bright, fun, diverse and a little crazy!” she says. For a quick branding trick, use the same photo filter (via Instagram or another photo-editing app—Moore recommends Rhonna Designs) on every photo you post on social media. Or take a photo of fabric, wrapping paper or even a colorful studio wall to use as an original backdrop. A streamlined and consistent social-media approach goes a long way.
6. Create a Cell Phone Bucket.
After noticing that her students were asking for more frequent bathroom breaks—only to sneak a peek at their cell phones—L.A. Dance studio owner Lauren Delorey instituted a new rule. Upon entering the studio, every dancer must put her mobile device in a big bucket that sits outside Delorey’s office. Although she anticipated backlash from students and parents, she reports the opposite: “The parents thought it was the greatest idea,” she says. “The kids know when they’re here to dance, they’re here to dance.”
7. Offer Students a Place to Store Their Dancewear In-Studio.
Many of Lauren Delorey’s students come straight from the school bus to the studio and forget to pack the correct dress-code attire in the morning. “For ballet, they don’t love to wear the pink tights and black leotard,” she says. “We had a lot of issues with, ‘I forgot my tights.'” Students who take several classes a week, like company dancers, can elect to store multiple sets of their dancewear in bins labeled with their names. Once or twice a week, students take home a set to be washed.