Starting a dance team takes planning and careful execution. With a little organization and a lot of hard work, you can establish a new group that can potentially go on to be very successful.
Step One: Understand Your Purpose
Before you do anything else, it’s important to understand your purpose behind starting a dance team. Ask yourself a few key questions to figure this out.
- Why am I interested in starting a dance team?
- Is there a specific population I want to serve?
- What unique gifts and talents will my team bring to the community?
- How do I see that playing out in real time?
There aren’t any right answers to these questions. However, what you write will give you clarity moving forward. For examples of team purpose, check out the mission statements of Kolleens Dance Team, a group in Bloomington, Minnesota, or The Dancer’s Group in San Francisco, California.
Step Two: Gauge Interest
In order to build a successful team, there must be interest within the community to support its creation and growth. This includes a number of parties.
- Prospective clients
- Potential sponsors
- Possible team leadership
Where to Look
Put some feelers out online message boards, classifieds, and flyers posted in local coffee houses, dance studios, gyms, dance apparel stores, and other places those with dance related experience and professions may stumble across it. Make sure any announcements clearly communicate your purpose and vision for the team.
It will help you find the people you can reach out to later on for dancers and gigs. Network with friends, family, and co-workers to see who may be willing to get on board themselves in some way, as well as those who can refer within their own circles. If there is a substantial amount of interest, later steps will be much easier.
Step Three: Select Your Offerings
There are a variety of options for how to run your dance team.
- Participate in dance competitions
- Perform for hire
- Volunteer at local events
- Hold recitals
The offerings you choose are dependent on your purpose and community interest.
Step Four: Consider Costs and Revenue
When selecting your offerings, make sure to include how you will earn funds to pay for practical costs that may arise. You’ll need to create a budget that includes the following.
- Rehearsal space rentals – Rates generally run between $20 to $50 an hour if you pay per session, with discounts for those who pay the entire month up front.
- Team Uniforms and Costumes – Apparel costs range from $100 to $600, depending on the quality and style you’re looking for. What you choose for your team will weigh heavily on your offerings. For example, recital-wear will be different from performance wear.
- Dancers’ pay (if applicable) – Wages vary from the minimum up $60 per hour for small events.
- Building your website – From purchasing your domain name to hosting services, you’ll pay $20 to $30 a month. Hiring someone to design the page will be an additional upfront cost, but can make your team look more professional. However, there are plenty of tools to design your own if you want to save.
The more you can define now, the more information you will have to build your squad. You also need to create a fundraising plan to determine how you will cover your budget.
Step Five: Build a Leadership Team
As the old saying goes, there is no I in team. While you can probably start a dance team on your own, it is both strategic and sensible to build a team of individuals who can act in leadership roles.
- Director – head of the team
- Administrative assistant – takes notes during admin meetings, directs client questions to the appropriate channels, in charge of overall customer service and bookkeeping
- Event organizer – in charge of finding venues, vendors, and organizing event details
- Marketing lead – to manage advertising and sponsorships
- Digital media coordinator – to manage the website, content creation, and social media networks
Paid or Volunteer?
If you plan to build substantial revenue through your dance team’s offerings, these roles should be paid a salary based on industry standards, as listed on sites like glassdoor.com. If the team is for community service or will pay only through competition, find people willing to volunteer their time.
To fill these roles, you can use the same channels listed above. In addition, post an ad on Craigslist. Be sure to meet in person or schedule a call to get a sense of the applicant’s personality and expertise. You’ll want to find people who are excited about what you are trying to accomplish and committed to helping you build your vision.
Step Six: Recruit Dancers
When recruiting dancers, know who you are targeting. They can range from people who enjoy dancing in their spare time to those who dance professionally full time. Choose one or two dates to hold open auditions.
Post a call for dancers on a talent or job listing site, or your local newspaper. Include clear auditions guidelines and expectations in the call.
- Are you looking for a specific age-range or gender?
- Do you want them to prepare their own solo dance routine for the tryouts, or are you going to teach a certain style of dance?
- Is there a dress code?
- Do you have solidified rehearsal times that they must fit into their schedule if accepted?
- Will dancers be paid during gigs and rehearsals or will they be volunteering their time?
The more the dancers know ahead of time, the closer potential talent will fit the qualities and skills you are looking for. You’ll also have the opportunity to be more selective in who you accept.
Step Seven: Rent Rehearsal Space
Many of the larger dance studios will rent out dance space to smaller groups for an hourly rate. High school gymnasiums, recreation centers, and even warehouses are other options. Shop around for a space that will work well for your team’s needs and budget. Once you have your space, arrange a time to for your team to meet two or three times a week and start dancing!
Rehearse, Perform, Compete
Starting a dance team is hard work, but once the foundation is built, the leadership and the dancers, you begin the fun task of enabling others to shine through the beauty of artistic movement. Register to compete in a competition or offer to perform in a local event to give your team something to work toward until you book more opportunities.