By: Lindsey Blackburn, Studio Go Instructor
As I prepare myself for another season of recitals with Studio Go, I think back to all of the things I have learned thus far in my journey with this company. Studio Go is unlike any other dance education company I have worked with. Their emphasis on character and confidence building, rather than strictly dance technique, is unmatched in the dance community. And I think that’s what makes this company so special. Of course, the main goal is dance technique, and as a teacher for a company with clear monthly goals and expectations, it couldn’t be easier.
One of the aspects Studio Go Dance really shines over other similar companies is keeping all of our teachers on the same page. This is really the key to keeping such wide-spread classes successful; making sure your teachers know exactly what their students need to know by the end of each month. Then, once recital season comes around, schools that are miles apart are still on the same level.
While getting used to the daily routine (or lack there of) of a company with this sort of business model can be tricky, the reward far outweighs the struggles. Watching how my students grow, not only in their dance knowledge, but also as caring and loving humans, is truly my favorite part of what I do. It took a bit of practice and trial and error to find what works for me with this lifestyle of teaching, but it didn’t take long to get a good grasp on how to manage the nomadic nature of this job.
Being a teacher who is teaching not only for Studio Go Dance, but also for a traditional dance studio, I can say with certainty that I enjoy my Studio Go classes more. There is so much more room for creativity, and putting your own spin on classes as a teacher. Especially when it comes to recitals. Since each of our classes gets their own recital, it can be a little overwhelming, but it is so much fun. With a traditional studio, while you may get to pick your costumes (if you’re lucky) and choreograph your classes’ dances, that’s really the extent of the average teacher’s involvement. With Studio Go recitals, the teacher is responsible for literally every aspect of the performance, from setting the date and time, to finding the space (of course with the help of the school), to decorations, to preparing costumes and props, and putting the show together. This is my most favorite part of the year, because it allows me that extra outlet to be creative and do what I love, and show the parents of my students all of the hard work they have done that year. Another aspect of our recitals to note, is that each recital is 20-30 minutes long. I’ll say that again. Each class gets their own show that lasts for 20-30 minutes! So your parents are watching their students dance for about 10 times longer than they would at a traditional dance recital. This gives us the opportunity to really show them everything that we have learned throughout the year, not just a 3-minute slice of it. It has definitely been one of the biggest praises we get from parents at the end of the year. Everyone knows of the dreaded 3 hour recital that goes on and on, and your child is only on the stage for 2 minutes. This model completely shocks our first-time parents who are used to the traditional way, and really is a selling point for a company of this type.
To give you an idea of how my days with Studio Go run, here is an example of a typical day for me with Studio Go:
I arrive at my first school at 8:45am, sign in with the front desk and make my way to the gym, where our classes are held. I unpack my roll book, speaker, iPad, Bitty the Ballerina, and shoes and skirt. I tape the floor with the number of spots I need and an ‘x’ front and center, with one spot on either side to use for across the floor activities. Then I look over my roll to be sure I don’t have any new students I need to be sure to pick up, and remind myself of how many students I’ll be picking up. Once I have the number in my mind, I walk around to each classroom and collect my students, and bring everyone back to our classroom.
I take roll, and each student recites the ‘magic word’ for that day when their name is called. We have our class, get our stamps, and line up at the door to go back to class. Then it’s time to pick up a few spots, because the second class is smaller, and then pick up the next group and do it all over! Once the students are back in their classrooms, I put the room back the way I found it, pack up my teaching supplies, and head to the front desk to pick up anything she has for me (this time of year, it’s recital costume forms!).
Then I pack up my car, and have a couple hours before my next class. So I run errands, pick up lunch, or head to the school early (our class is held in an empty church classroom) and read or do some yoga and stretching. I get this room all taped and ready, just like earlier that morning, while another teacher does the same in the room across the hall. At this school, the preschool is two floors down, so we snag the elevator and make our way down. One of us meets some students in the hallway; while the other goes a little further down to get more. This is a very big group of students (what a problem to have!), so we have two classes running at the same time for both pre-ballet and tap-ballet. At this school, we have to help the students change into their ballet clothes before class, so once we get back upstairs we start to get them changed. We get everyone dressed together, then split the two classes and get started.
Once our pre-ballet classes are done, their parents pick them up and sign them out as the second group is coming in. Once the tap-ballet group gets settled with their tap shoes behind their spots, we get started just the same. We make it through the class, and the students change into their outside shoes (because tap shoes are so loud in the hallway!) and line up at the door to be picked up and signed out. I, once again, pack my supplies, make sure the room is the way I found it, and head to the car.
And these days, that’s it! Done by 2:30! What more could you want? Getting home in the afternoon before traffic (at least in Atlanta!) gives me so much time to get other things done. I can work on choreography for our recitals, plan out classes or recital decorations, submit my invoice, any number of things. While we do have classes that end later in the afternoon (5:00-5:30), the majority are over earlier in the afternoon. It is definitely a benefit over a traditional studio with exclusively evening classes.
All in all, Studio Go Dance has changed the dance education game in Atlanta, and our other markets. Leah has taken the traditional way of offering dance classes and really made it into something so marketable and unique. Her commitment to keeping things fresh and professional, while still offering quality technique and performances makes all the difference in attracting new students. I have loved every second of working for this company, and I look forward to many more seasons in the future.