Though you might be tempted to spend the two weeks following your recital fully horizontal, basking in your studio’s triumph, that time frame is actually a crucial one for setting yourself up for next year’s success, says Melanie Gibbs, owner of Boca Dance Studio and ProAm Dance Studio, both in Florida.
A post-recital to-do list and timeline, like the one offered here by Gibbs and Kelly Peckholdt, owner of Positions Dance Studio in Babylon, New York, will help you make note of what went smoothly and what needs tweaking before you’re consumed with preseason planning. (And don’t worry: It also builds in some much-needed time for basking.)
The Day After the Recital
For Gibbs, the day following her studios’ recitals is for recognition and kudos: for her families, for hanging in there throughout a challenging year; and for her staff and crew members, for pulling off a job well done. “It’s just 24 hours of gratitude, gratitude, gratitude,” she says. “I’ll put it in our staff Facebook group. I’ll post pictures of our backstage crew in our families’ private group. I might post something personally—I post as widely as I possibly can.”
After her last show, Peckholdt might pop open a bottle of wine. The day following, she prioritizes unloading her car, and getting costumes, props and any other physical odds and ends organized and put away. She’ll also craft and send a thank-you email to parents, as well as a Facebook post on her studio’s page, where parents can drop their favorite photos in the comments.
A Few Days After
At her weekly all-team meeting on the Monday following this year’s recital, Gibbs opened by asking her staff to acknowledge their exhaustion—“Even if everything had gone perfectly,” she says, “it’s still exhausting”—and, as a way to steer the conversation positively, to share one thing they felt proud of. “They were giving each other shout-outs, or sharing feedback from a parent that no one else had heard about,” she says.
Peckholdt spends her first few days post-recital gathering feedback, via email, from her staff and crew members, in order to determine what needs changing or tweaking. Often these notes center on minutiae that might get forgotten if not addressed immediately: In 2019, for example, Peckholdt was in a new venue, and she’d set up her check-in for students in the theater’s sizable lobby. “We had enough staff to make check-in happen quickly, but we didn’t have the signs that listed last-name groupings posted high enough above each table,” she says. “People had just morphed into one giant line, not knowing what to do, and nothing was moving quickly enough.”
Gibbs also does what she calls a postmortem in the first few days following her recital. This year, she streamlined that process by asking her staff, a few weeks before the show, what winning on recital day would look like to them. “They all gave me their versions, and I wrote them all down,” she says. “I took 10 things that I agree with and put those into a Google Form.” Post-recital, she asked staff to rank how the studio did on each task. “Now, we can sit down as a team and look at 10 sets of rankings,” says Gibbs, “to see what needs attention for 2021–22.”
The Week After
For Gibbs, this is the time to circle back to logistical details, like budget tracking and vendor contracts. “Within the first seven days after recital, I want to have any necessary tracking done,” says Gibbs. “If we’re seven days out and I still don’t have any information about what we spent on confetti cannons, that’s a problem. The longer you wait, the less likely you are to actually get that information.”
Though she’ll actually initiate a conversation with her venue on recital day about next year’s date, Peckholdt will spend the week following officially securing that information and clearing it with her staff. She also uses the week after recital as a final pitch for families who might want to purchase recital photos and videos. “Typically, I’ll do that via email,” she says, “and we also have a page dedicated to recital stuff on our studio website, so I’ll put that there, too.”
Two Weeks After
By the end of the second week, post-recital, Gibbs has shifted her focus to telling the story on social media of the season’s “exclamation point,” as she calls it, as a sales and retention tool. “It’s a high point for the studio, for the community, that we were able to put on an event like this, and the kids are always the hero of this story,” she says. “If we did our job, our clients are clamoring to re-up with us after seeing this show.”