Posted Wednesday, August 18th, 2021 by Akada
In the past year, professional athletes have made headlines by doing one thing: taking a step back.
Tennis star Naomi Osaka pulled out of matches; and more recently, gymnast Simone Biles withdrew
from Olympic events. Both athletes cited mental health reasons for their withdrawal, and both athletes
have received praise and scorn for their decisions.
What does this have to do with dance?
The rigors of participating in local dance classes may not be on the same level as Olympic participation,
but dance studio owners notice a decline in competitive participation from teens also citing mental
health reasons. Opinions vary on whether these students are making good decisions by withdrawing
from dance classes but keep a few things in mind.
Mental health is not just a trend
Students and adults alike have been under enormous stress in the past eighteen months. This is a time
to pay attention to mental health, not ignore it. Students need understanding, not judgment because
you may not know what’s going on at home.
Rethink your message
A win-at-all-cost mindset doesn’t motivate everyone. It’s a lot of pressure. Never forget that dance is a
form of expression and mindfulness. Physical activity is beneficial for mental health. Perhaps some new
options can include recreational dance that includes mindfulness.
Care about the whole student
Sure, another trophy would be great, but not if it destroys the mental health of students. Trust
students when they tell you they need to prioritize their mental health because it demonstrates amazing
strength to draw a line between doing what they love and understanding their boundaries. Meet
students with compassion if you want to keep them.
Perhaps it’s time to recognize that right now may not be appropriate for a win-at-all-cost message, and
young people are rejecting that mindset. Meet them where they are and be the resource that they need
so that one day they will look back and see that you helped them get through some pretty hard stuff.
Posted Tuesday, July 7th, 2020 by Akada
As many of you know, YPAD originated as the heart song of Leslie Scott Zanovitch, its founder and long-time champion—and someone I now consider a forever friend. 🙂
Leslie created YPAD to uphold a high standard of health and safety in dance. It was an answer to the industry-wide question, “How can we serve dance students in the best, healthiest way possible?”
When More Than Just Great Dancing® acquired YPAD earlier this year, it was our goal to expand on Leslie’s mission, staying true to her legacy and opening up the YPAD education and certification to more studio owners and teachers. And now here we are!
Here is more information about the educational coursework at the core of the YPAD experience. YPAD currently has two different course offerings:
#1: The YPAD SAFETY Course (which leads to Course Completion) covers the following topics:
- Best Practices for Dance Studios
- Abuse Awareness and Prevention
- Injury Prevention and Response
- Risk Management in the Dance Environment
Each of these four points represents an area of learning that we believe every studio needs to maximize student safety. It is my belief that a YPAD safety education will benefit every level of the industry, from the studio itself and its teachers to our students and their parents. At YPAD, we have gone ALL-IN on encouraging the industry to self-regulate and teach within the bounds of what’s healthy and safe for kids.
#2: The YPAD SAFETY & WELLNESS Course (which leads to YPAD Certification) covers the following topics in addition to the safety education:
- Social Media, Media Safety & Today’s Dance Culture
- Developmentally Appropriate Artistry
- Body Image, Nutrition & Disordered Eating
- Bullying & Conflict Resolution
What’s EXTRA cool about the work we’ve been doing behind the scenes is that YPAD’s educational courses are also all DIGITAL! Backed by evidence-based research, every lesson includes text and video components to optimize learning. Of course, there are a few things that can’t be done 100% digitally (like CPR training) but it’s pretty cool for each participant to be able to learn online at their own pace.
Ultimately I believe that we can serve the dance industry with the YPAD mission and leave it stronger than ever for the next generation. I hope that through YPAD, more individuals will feel empowered with the tools and resources to serve their dance students with the utmost professionalism and sensitivity.
If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you know that I am a champion for studio owners and teachers. I also want my legacy to be that of being champion for needed change in the dance world—making it safer and healthier for kids to be involved in this art we love so much.
Will YOU be a champion of change with me?
I hope you’ll say YES and visit us at ypadnow.com 🙂
For more inspiration, sign up for the Misty Minute. https://morethanjustgreatdancing.com/misty-minute-signup/
Posted Thursday, June 18th, 2020 by Akada
The events from the pandemic crisis to standing up for human rights have set dance studios on a course into unknown waters. Everything has changed in an instant, forcing studio owners and teachers to embrace a whole new way of teaching from a distance and through an array of emotions. When everything changes and confusion and panic seem to take over, how can dance studios navigate through this abnormal time and support their audience? Here are some tips to help.
Acknowledge the emotions
Face what you are feeling, what teachers are feeling, and what students are feeling. If you are scared, no doubt others are scared too. Do not be afraid to be vulnerable. Give space for others to be vulnerable as well and use it as a time to bond and comfort one another. For students, losing their face-to-face dance classes can feel mournful and unfair – let them know they are not alone.
Dance through the chaos
Historically, the arts and social justice have been interconnected. Dance can connect individuals with community and create a sanctuary. As you listen to your teachers and students, encourage them to use their movement to heal. Share stories about how dance helps heal and listen to their stories, whether it’s racial inequality, pandemic fears, or something else entirely.
Create a safe space with open conversation
Now would be a great time for dance studio owners and staff to be educated on social injustice issues. Ensuring that your team has an open conversation about what is going on in the world helps create an environment of safety and belonging when studio doors open again. Set the goal of having a safe space in the studio.
Dance is a powerful way to connect people and express emotion. This time of uncertainty might be the catalyst needed to create a powerful space to be more open and more connected as humans. Do not underestimate the power dance has to connect us all.
Posted Friday, May 1st, 2020 by Akada
Hang in there!
Akada’s COVID-Related Updates
The emergence of COVID-19 has changed everything about the way we live life over the past several weeks. While the guidelines and changes have been anxiety-inducing and scary for so many, dance studios are getting creative to give their students some sense of normalcy. To support that creativity, Akada was right there, with updates that help dance studios withstand this pandemic.
Using Akada’s new Virtual Class Options, studio owners and teachers can add classes with single or multiple meeting dates, share meeting links, set tuition amounts for classes, and easily share with parents. The virtual class link can be sent via email, or parents can access it from their parent account.
Materials, such as instructions, videos of routines, and even recital music, can be uploaded for parent access, and the portal is mobile-friendly. For larger files, we recommend you upload to an outside storage service and provide a sharable link.
We aren’t done yet. We are working on updates that will help studios once your students return to the classroom. Soon, you’ll be able to take and record your student’s temperatures using the studio interface or Akada Express.
Akada is excited to release Akada Express, our free studio-facing mobile app. Teachers can log in and record class attendance, studio owners can schedule classes, and billing can be completed – all from an app in a smartphone or tablet.
Online dance classes may be a new experience for young students and teachers, and there can be frustration and sadness as a result. However, technology gives us a chance to continue reaching out to one another, offering camaraderie and comfort. Akada is proud to continue being a part of the solution, providing a reliable platform to help dance studios stay connected to their students.
Posted Wednesday, April 22nd, 2020 by Akada
In today’s world, consumers turn to the Internet for just about everything. While word of mouth and personal recommendations are still important, having a strong web presence is essential. The dance studio industry is no exception. When a potential customer is searching for a local dance studio, dance studio owners should do everything possible to make sure their studio shows up in the search. Here are some tips to help dance studio owners boost their SEO (search engine optimization) ranking.
Optimize the website
Make sure the studio website is functioning the best it can. Page speeds affect how long people will wait on a website to load, and a slow website can mean lost business.
Utilize Google Maps
Google Maps is an awesome tool to find local businesses with just a general search, and dance studio owners need to make sure their studio is listed in Maps Google even makes it easy with Google My Business, a free tool that allows a business to promote their business profile and website on Google Search and Maps. This tool can be used even if a studio already has a website.
Get reviews posted online
Ask families for lots of reviews online. Websites like Yelp will help SEO. Patrons can also write reviews on a Google My Business account. Lots of positive reviews help a website stand out among others in a search.
Make sure content is relevant
A dance studio website should have everything from location and hours, to dance styles, photos, teacher bios, and anything else that will make a potential student feel welcome and excited to be a part of the studio. Don’t skimp on the information!
Taking the time to work on and monitor online presence will help dance studios get the online attention they need. If the studio owner does not feel comfortable handling these tasks, it may be a good idea to have a staff member or contractor help optimize dance studio websites. The investment of time and money in SEO could result in a full, well-known dance studio.
Posted Wednesday, March 25th, 2020 by Akada
I am writing this to create a centralized place for you to keep up with updates to our program and any additional resources that we’ve come across that we think may be helpful to your studio.
Virtual Class Link and Class Materials – Easily link your virtual classes or youtube videos to your client’s parent account.
Uploading Large Files – A new, more efficient way to email those large video files that you may be sharing.
How to use Zoom to Stream Dance Classes Online by Joe Naftal, Dance Connection
Zoom Music Quality Solutions – Danielle Tucci-Juraga, Downstage Center Dance Studio
More Zoom Sound Quality (video) – courtesy of MusicWorks Unlimited
Secure Your Zoom Classes – Learn how to protect your Zoom classes from unwanted outsiders. Courtesy of Dan Goodin, Ars Technica.
Dance Studio Virtual Class Waiver – Jordan Mojzer-Brown, JMB Dance Academy**
Rhee Gold – Rhee is always on top of things, and his site is adding daily content with useful tools, ideas, and links to support dance studios.
Dance Teacher Network – This is a private Facebook group just for dance studio owners, teachers, and vendors. DTN is a great place to share questions, concerns, and occasionally a good place to vent with other people in your industry.
**Akada can not guarantee the validity of this waiver. Please consult with your attorney and insurance provider before releasing it to your customer.**
Posted Wednesday, February 26th, 2020 by Akada
Keeping Recital Planning on Track
by Joe Naftal
For many studios across North America, our spring recitals are just a few months away. While that may be an unwelcome reminder or sound like a cause for alarm, it is the perfect time to review your recital checklist and make sure everything is on track for another perfect recital this year.
- Make sure all of your dance families are on the same pageYou’ve sent out what seems like hundreds of email reminders about dress rehearsal dates, tights colors, ticket sales, recital arrival times and more, but without fail, you know a parent will arrive to the recital clueless about the dozens of newsletters you’ve sent out. Boil down your newsletters to the top five or ten things your parents must know before the recital – if they read nothing else all year. What do they have to know? Mail this out as a postcard right before the recital. With the numerous emails parents receive daily, receiving something in the mail seems novel. You can also include a flyer with the “must have” information in each costume. They must have the flyer with them if they brought their costume to the recital (and hopefully they will!)
- Figure out what tasks you can delegate to other trusted peopleThe studio director is the captain of the recital ship. But the captain can’t steer the ship if they’re pre-occupied with raising the sails, mopping the deck, cooking in the galley, and supervising the brig. The same goes for the recital – if the director is pre-occupied with setting up the lobby, organizing the dressing rooms, running check-in, and calling cues for the show, then the recital will steer off course. Like any good captain, find your first-mate and other trusted ship officers. Delegate a dependable leader to each area so you feel comfortable that the show is moving smoothly and can manage the big picture – directing an entertaining recital.
- Think through some of the finer detailsA recital works like a machine. There are dozens of moving pieces, and each gear needs to move correctly to avoid a jam, which could affect other parts of the machine down the line. Take some time to think through some of the details (gears) that are prone to cause issues and added stress at showtime. Review your recital check-in procedure to make sure you can check in all of your students in a timely fashion so that the show may begin on time. Ensure you have enough ushers and lobby staff to accommodate the number of audience members you anticipate. And most importantly, double-check to make sure you have enough time between songs for dancer’s costume changes, and you have volunteers in place to help with quick costume changes. (Tip: utilize your studio management software’s costume conflict manager to get a listing of all quick changes and anticipate what your needs will be).
- Explore recital revenue enhancers
The recital can be a huge revenue driver for studios. It can be the difference between a studio breaking even and making a profit for the year. It can float a studio through the cash-less summer months. It can even afford a studio owner the opportunity to take a well-deserved family vacation. Because of the profit potential, it’s important to leave no stone unturned when it comes to increasing revenue at the recital. Take some time to look into selling snacks and drinks, flowers, toys and novelty items, t-shirts, dancewear, program ads, raffles, and more at your recital. Parents will appreciate the convenience and thought put into enhancing their overall recital experience, and your accountant will appreciate the added income.
The recital is an important event for every dance studio. Besides being a year-end focus of classes and a central revenue source, it is an opportunity for studios to showcase the talent and hard work of their students as well as the dedication and experience of their teachers and staff. Following these tips will help your studio stay on track to have another great (and hopefully, less stressful) recital this season.
Growing up in the studio family business, Joe Naftal is the marketing director for Dance Connection in Islip, New York. Joe has taught seminars, classes, and workshops for dance teachers and studio owners from around the world, has been on the seminar faculty of the Energize Conference, the Dance Teacher Summit, the UDMA Dance Teacher Expos, and has been a contributor for DanceStudioOwner.com and Dance Teacher Magazine. He is the author of Standby in the Wings, which has been sold across North America, the UK, and Australia, and is the creator of Check In Pointe and RecitalProgramAds.com. As an advocate for arts education, Joe serves on the Board of Directors for Robin Becker Dance and CM Performing Arts Center. Aside from his work at the studio, Joe is a lighting designer and production manager for classical and contemporary theatre, modern dance, ballet, and opera. He holds a BFA in Lighting Design from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.
To learn more about Joe or to purchase his book or other recital planning tools, visit his website: https://www.standbyinthewings.com/
Posted Tuesday, February 18th, 2020 by Akada
The Problem and A New Way of Thinking
After owning my studio for several decades, it was just three years ago that I had my “aha” moment. At the busiest time of year, April through June, we are standing on our heads, barking like a carnival barker and doing the elevator pitch for Re-Registration. We hope that everyone returns for the following dance season, but we need their cooperation and commitment AND we need their registration form.
I’ve been creative with verbiage like:
“As a member of our studio family, you (AND ONLY YOU) are being offered Re-Registration in advance of the general public. Don’t delay – classes fill up and we don’t want you to be shut out”.
Throughout the years, I have offered: The first 100 students that Re-Register before Dress Rehearsal will:
- be entered into a raffle to win FREE TUITION for a FREE CLASS
- get a special limited-edition studio shirt
- get 2 front row seats to the recital
- be entered into a raffle to win $100 Visa gift card
- get my next unborn child, etc., etc.
I did it all and to some extent, it worked. But, what MORE could I do? I was always worried – will my students come back? The anticipation was killing me! They say they will return – but show me the money!
Every year I waited and prayed and every year there was a “situation”. After Re-Registration closed (just before summer classes began) I would issue the following year’s class schedule and of course, I mixed and combined students to fill the classes. After a class was full – inevitably a student would come back at the beginning of September and expect to be back in the class. Parents would say “You knew I was coming back – I’ve been with you 6 years”. Really? My thousand Re-Registration notifications didn’t give you enough incentive to fill out the form. So sorry that my mind-reading skills didn’t work and that I didn’t KNOW that you would be coming back to classes.
Finally, I had enough of this. How is it that we are one of the only businesses, that I know of, that wipe out our clientele and completely start all over again year after year. Who started this and who thought that this was a good business practice?
I needed to run my business in a more professional and competent way. I needed to change my way of thinking about Re-Registration. I needed to be able to project my numbers, make class schedules, hire enough teachers and plan better for the next year.
Why do we handle Re-Registration this way? Why can’t we be like a gym membership or daycare center? In those establishments, you are IN till you tell them you are OUT. Even when I order my hair products on Amazon, they offer auto deliveries for an indefinite time period until I cancel it.
So, here’s how I introduced the new procedure to my students and parents:
ROLLOVER REGISTRATION PROCEDURE
As we come to the close of another dance year, we are aware of how busy your schedules are going to be in the next few weeks. We hope we can help take something off your plate. With the help of our studio software, we are happy to announce that we have instituted a new procedure – Rollover Registration. That’s right, if your contact information has NOT changed, you will no longer need to fill out a full registration application year after year. No need to worry about being closed out of your classes – you are assured placement in the dance subjects you desire and continue to be part of our dancing family. As a current member of our dance studio family, if you are in good standing (accounts paid in full, no studio policy violations), you will automatically be re-enrolled for the next dance season.
If you want to make additions or changes to your classes, all you need to do is inform the office before __________ (date of choice).
Confirmation of classes will be emailed to you by _________ (date of choice).
We have had GREAT results with this new procedure, and I have only one regret – why didn’t I think of it sooner? Now, I can plan teachers’ schedules more efficiently. I know what classes are full or need to be pushed and best of all, I have money in the bank . . . in the summer!!!!!!!!
If you want to take control of your destiny and studio schedule, if you want to enjoy your summer because you know where your business stands, go ahead and sit on the beach because your enrollment is back. I know that not having financial stress and being worried about my enrollment for next year has made me a happier studio owner, and everyone benefits from that!
by Hedy Perna
Perna Dance Center
Hedy has run Perna Dance Center for more than 30 years and is active in dance organizations that promote the education of teachers and students. She is President Emeritus of Associated Dance Teachers of NJ and a lifelong member of Dance Educators of America. Additionally, she has presented for Rhee Gold’s Project Motivate, The DanceLife Teacher Conference, the Dance Life Retreat Center, Dance Teacher Summit, United Dance Merchants of America, is a contributing writer for Dance Studio Life Magazine, as well as a long time Akada Customer.
If you have questions about how to make this registration procedure work in Akada just let us know. We’ll gladly walk you through it. – Brett
Posted Friday, January 10th, 2020 by Akada
2019 was a great year at Akada. We celebrated our 25th anniversary, engaged with more customers than ever, and doubled our scholarship program. 2020 is already off to a great start, and we are looking to build off of last year’s momentum. Keep reading to learn more about what we have planned for the year.
First up, a mobile app for our studio users called Akada Express. This app will start off small in functionality, but we will continue to add to it as we learn what functions studios need. From the start, however, your teachers and admin will be able to enter attendance from their iOS and Android devices. Akada Express will save your dance studio both time and money. No attendance sheets or purchasing expensive tablets — your teachers will be able to download the app right to their phones and enter attendance in the classroom. Akada Express will be available in late February or March.
Possibly the most exciting project we have in the pipeline is an app for your parents. We have partnered with Mobile Inventor to develop a parent app that will enable your customers to access their accounts, receive push notifications, make payments, and register for classes. Additionally, all the branding for this app will belong to your studio. Your customers will search your studio name within the app store, not Akada. Currently, the plans are for the app to be available late spring, in time for the summer registration cycle.
We’re also continuing to work on an entirely new studio interface. We’ve been working on this project for several years now, and we think it will have been well worth the wait. The new interface will be completed in the next few months and will then undergo an extensive testing process. Our goal is to have it released as a Beta late in the 2020-2021 dance season. Your studio will be able to opt into the new format, giving you an ample adjustment period before the start of the fall 2021 season.
Last year, through our webinars, trade shows, and social media, Akada was more engaged than ever before. But we can still do better. This year we will again be the title sponsor of the Dance Life Teacher Conference in Scottsdale, AZ. Additionally, we’re excited to be joining Studio Owner’s University for the first time next month. During the summer, you can find us at Energize Dance Conference, and we’ll be returning to both Dance Teacher Web and the UDMA teacher expos. If you’re planning on attending any of these shows or have questions about the benefits, drop us a line and let us know.
On the training front, our spring webinar schedule is available now and will have the registration links up within the next few days. We’ll be doing the basics again, but we have added quite a few new topics based on the feedback we received to our intercom question a few weeks ago. As always, if you or your staff would like to schedule one-on-one training specific to your studio, just let us know. Now is the time to review the way your studio is using Akada and to allow us to help you use it as efficiently as possible.
Finally, don’t forget that we offer a referral program. Recommend us to a friend, and when they sign up using the promo code Referral, you will both receive three months free. Tip: Click on the word Referral, and you can share the link with them.
Last, but certainly not least, our scholarship program is back for year three, and we are excited to have EVO joining us once more. This year we will again award ten $1,000 scholarships to students in need, special programs within the studio, or charities supported by your studio. We received four times as many applications last year as we did in year one, and we expect that to grow even more this year. We’ll kick this program off again in May with an application deadline of June 30th. We will announce the winners on Monday, July 13th.
Posted Wednesday, December 18th, 2019 by Akada
It seems like we were just projecting our 25th year of existence and making our 2019 plans, and here we are now, about to say goodbye to another great year. Thanks to the support of our customers, we were able to establish a referral program, grow our scholarship program, and increase our engagement efforts. Additionally, our staff was able to attend some trade shows, meeting more of you across the country! It has been a great year!
Akada would like to thank our loyal customers and friends. We love getting to have a helping part in the operation of a smooth-running dance studio so you, the dance studio owners, can focus on training the younger generation of dancers and artists who will do great things.
Creating a positive studio culture starts with a happy, united front of staff members who believe in the goals of the studio and feel valued for their talent. Making time for that reconnection during holiday breaks can be motivating and give everyone a boost for the upcoming spring competitions and recitals.
Moving into 2020, we see 366 opportunities (thanks to leap year!) to keep striving toward greatness. Let’s set goals; let’s make plans, and let’s make 2020 an incredible year!