On My Mind

May-June 2015 | On My Mind

Honest. Trustworthy. We all label ourselves with those words, and that’s a good start. Next up: having the integrity to prove them true.

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March-April 2015 | On My Mind

I’ve been in the dance education field for a long time, and over the years I’ve noticed some changes, particularly in regard to student performances. Long before the current generation started dancing for awards, generations of young dancers performed for something quite simple: applause.

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February 2015 | On My Mind

Being a school owner requires a certain amount of resilience and optimism. Being optimistic doesn’t mean ignoring the tough stuff; it means focusing on what’s good as much as possible.

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January 2015 | On My Mind

Heading into 2015, I’m consumed with the logistics and planning for the next DanceLife Teacher Conference, coming up in late July/early August. To judge by this year’s roster of faculty and speakers, the theme for the 2015 DLTC should be “over the top.” In the two years between these events I run into many impressive people whose knowledge and skills would be perfect for the conference, and this time I went a little overboard. While creating the conference’s schedule (a daunting month-long project), I realized that accommodating a faculty of 38 and more than 125 classes, seminars, and special events meant expanding to four ballrooms. “Over the top” we go!

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December 2014 | On My Mind

Running a business requires many skills. It also requires good instincts and a willingness to act on them. Take the case of Maura, a successful school owner. Her weaknesses are a fear of confrontation and a tendency to be too trusting—and too willing to squelch her intuition.

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November 2014 | On My Mind

Those of you who have attended my seminars for dance teachers and school owners know that I rant about the “grab-the-foot-and-yank-the-leg-to-the-ear” move we all see at every dance competition and on TV. “It’s the way to show a good extension,” a teacher once told me. I don’t agree.

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October 2014 | On My Mind

In today’s business world, there’s plenty of talk about mission statements and branding and logos, and most of us accept that those are desirable and necessary components of a business’ identity—and even of its success. Sometimes, instead of a formal mission statement, a tag line suffices—a succinct, often catchy description of what’s most essential about the business. It might not be in print anywhere, but it’s in the business owner’s head; in the case of a school owner, it usually sums up why that person has chosen dance education for a career. Dance Studio Life has a tag line too: “dedicated to quality dance education.” If you asked me to tell you what that means to me, you’d probably get quite a speech.

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September 2014 | On My Mind

I understand that teachers need to work on technically challenging feats with their students, but if those are all they’re working on, I start to wonder if they forgot—or never understood—that dance can be stunning, touching, and beautiful even when it doesn’t include a single jump, turn, or “grab the leg and yank it up.”

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August 2014 | On My Mind

Beautiful technique, gorgeous feet, and a whole lot of desire for excellence—that’s how I would describe the world-class ballet dancers I saw at the 2014 USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi. From classes to performances to teacher workshops, everything about the event was a class act.

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July 2014 | On My Mind

Ten years. It’s quite a milestone to be celebrating, especially for a supposedly doomed publication. What is the secret to our success? A combination of factors: a humble passion for education and the art of dance, the commitment of editors and writers who understand the soul of the dance community, and a constant desire to be on top of an evolving dance education field.

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May-June 2014 | On My Mind

Most of you know the routine: three days in an auditorium at a dance competition. That’s what Jocelyn, a school owner, is doing on this particular weekend, along with her students and their parents. By the second day, she knows her dancers aren’t scoring as well as she had predicted they would. Her confidence is shot, and her first thought is to strategize a defense plan to explain to everyone why the dancers are not up to par. In politics, it’s called spin mode.

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March-April 2014 | On My Mind

Recently I met Amanda (not her real name), a dance teacher who broke down while she explained that she had once loved teaching. Now it was nothing but stress. When she started teaching, she said, things were simpler: “All I had were toddlers; they loved class and so did I.” Now, she said, “I have students of all ages who are jealous of each other, and the parents question every move I make. They call or text me because they do not like my choreography or to blast me because they think tuition costs are too high. Almost everything I do is wrong!”

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February 2014 | On My Mind

Today I learned of the passing of Frank Hatchett, whom I admired for many reasons. Thinking about him takes me back to my childhood, and to my early career as a dancer and teacher.

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January 2014 | On My Mind

It’s the beginning of a new year, and I’m feeling thankful for each new day ahead of me, and the possibilities each one holds.

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December 2013 | On My Mind

Recently on Facebook, someone with a college degree referred to me as a high school dropout. They claimed to be “outing me” and insinuated that I should not be allowed to run my seminars because of my lack of formal education.

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September 2013 | On My Mind

Nothing in the dance education field provokes as much passionate debate as the pros and cons of dance competition. Some teachers live for competitions, while others enjoy the experience but consider it only a part of what they offer their students. Others are disgusted by it.

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August 2013 | On My Mind

I have always believed that attitude has everything to do with success. School owners who have a bad attitude—even when they have a huge marketing budget, the best faculty, and a school that offers excellent training—will not achieve the same level of success as do those whose love for dance shows in everything they do.

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July 2013 | On My Mind

This month we’re celebrating Dance Studio Life’s ninth anniversary. In a time when we constantly hear about the imminent death of print magazines, we are proudly bucking the trend with our largest July issue ever. We are always focused on creating content that will enhance the lives and careers of our loyal readers, and our subscription base is growing every day.

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May-June 2013 | On My Mind

Recently I got a phone call from a frantic school-owner friend looking for advice. She had started a business selling dancewear to her students and the community, and she was panicking because she was still losing money after four years. She told me how she had worked so hard to make the business a success. And then she said, “I can’t stand the thought of failure.” She was worried about what her family or friends would think of her if she couldn’t pull it off.

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March-April 2013 | On My Mind

When was the last time you took a vacation? How about a day off just to rest and refuel? If you’re like many of the dance teachers and school owners I talk to, you’ll say you don’t have the time or the money. If that sounds like you, then maybe it’s time to rethink your priorities.

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February 2013 | On My Mind

We are in conference mode here at the Rhee Gold Company and Dance Studio Life. What started as Project Motivate with 20 attendees in 1998 has morphed into the DanceLife Teacher Conference, which attracts more than 700 teachers, school owners, and studio managers from across the United States and Canada, and from as far away as Italy and Australia.

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January 2013 | On My Mind

I recently ran into a dancer for whom I had choreographed solos when she was a teenager. I had followed her successful performing career in New York and Los Angeles, and by anyone’s standards she would be considered a hardworking professional. Now in her mid-30s, she told me she’s ready to shift into the next phase of her career, which is to open a dance school. Her plan of action is to open a studio in a town that doesn’t already have any dance schools. She has saved an impressive chunk of money that will get her new small business off the ground.

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December 2012 | On My Mind

In this month’s issue we focus on jazz and hip-hop. As we were brainstorming about the content for the jazz section, I found my mind wandering back to the mid-1970s, when as teenagers, my twin brother, Rennie, and I would go with our mom to New York City to take classes from the jazz masters of the time. Many of those classes were with Luigi, who is featured in this issue.

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