Not Just Dance in Clermont, Florida, will hold a “Let Your Heart Move Your Feet” dance party on November 2 to support the Andrėa Rizzo Foundation’s nationwide fund-raising effort, “Dance Across America.”
The party, featuring a DJ and refreshments, will run from 7 to 10pm at the studio, 735 West Montrose Street. All proceeds from the event and pledges collected by dancers will go to support the Dréa’s Dream pediatric dance therapy program.
“Dance Across America” is one of many fund-raising efforts created by the Andrea Rizzo Foundation, a non-profit, 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization dedicated to bringing dance therapy to children with cancer and special needs in pediatric hospitals and public schools nationwide.
For more information on the Andrea Rizzo Foundation, call 401.952.2423 or email DreasDream@aol.com. For more information on the studio’s fund-raising efforts, visit http://notjustdancellc.com/.
This year’s 100th anniversary of the Arthur Murray Dance Studios will be celebrated in style at the National Museum of Dance on April 4 from 6:30 to 9pm.
On Wednesday, the franchise will be holding the world’s largest dance party in studios and locations around the globe. The National Museum of Dance party features dancing, desserts, champagne, and performances by professional dancers. The $10 admission fee goes to support the National Museum of Dance’s educational programming.
The National Museum of Dance is located at 99 South Broadway in Saratoga Springs, New York. For information, visit www.dancemuseum.org or call 518.584.2225.
By Julie Holt Lucia
It almost sounds too good to be true, like a get-rich-quick scheme: dance parties for groups of grown women who are willing to pay $25 each to enjoy an hour of good company, choreography, and cocktails. For Tammy Tropeau of Studio One RP Dance in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, this is no scheme. It is a serious business venture, one that keeps her studio hopping during the lean summer months.
Tropeau hosts stagettes (otherwise known as bachelorette parties here in the States) at her dance studio on Friday and Saturday nights, primarily during the height of wedding season when her school’s dance classes are on summer break. And she makes extra cash—fast—with each hour-long event. In her words, “I have never had so much fun teaching before!”
Tropeau never imagined that her studio might become a destination for bachelorette parties. A Cecchetti-certified ballet instructor, she opened her school at age 19 with only 45 students. Today, 16 years later, she has more than 200 students and a staff of 20 teachers and office staffers, and owns two buildings with a total of three studio classrooms. Classes range from ballet to musical theater to hip-hop to yoga (and everything in between), and are offered to an array of ages and levels. The bachelorette parties aren’t advertised with the rest of the classes though; promotion is strictly through word of mouth—mainly from the studio’s teachers, their network of friends, and referrals from previous party customers.
The idea to offer the parties came to Tropeau when she helped plan the bachelorette evening for one of her instructors who was getting married. She looked into having a party at another studio in town that offered striptease and pole dancing classes, as well as studio rentals—but it was booked up. The resourceful Tropeau offered to host the event at her studio instead, and she brought in an independent instructor who specialized in bachelorette parties. She was astounded when she saw that the instructor had made $500 at the end of the hour-long class.
“The wheels started turning,” Tropeau says, as she realized the bride-to-be market was not only booming in her area, it was something she could tap into as a business opportunity. “The teacher had no dance teacher training like I did [and] she had no space like I did. I have awesome young teachers with lots of friends. So I started offering this through word of mouth.”
Tropeau used her experience as a participant in the previous bachelorette party as a jumping-off point to train herself how to teach the classes. She quickly came up with some simple, jazz-based choreography to popular music. The routine included lots of repeating steps, as well as a few suggestive but tasteful moves. (As the program took off, she added more routines, choosing music she can edit if needed.)
She also created a party plan, which included 30 minutes of warming up and learning the choreographed routine, a break for drinks and snacks, and 20 more minutes of dancing—give or take some socializing time at the beginning and end of the party. With a liquor permit in place (this was a simple process in Saskatoon; rules and fees in the United States vary greatly by state), Tropeau could allow the partygoers to bring their own alcohol along with food.
Hosting bachelorette parties with dancing and drinks is certainly unique for a traditional dance studio, and there’s an even more ironic twist in Tropeau’s case: her buildings are former churches. They provide ample dance space for the parties (typically 15 to 25 women), as well as a large enough lounge area for the drinks and snacks. Plenty of parking is available too, although the participants usually have designated drivers in place prior to the event—for example, they might hire a limo to take them to and from the studio if they plan on going out to dinner or to a club after the dance class.
There are important liability considerations with such a venture. Tropeau hasn’t yet checked IDs but says she would if she felt unsure about someone’s age. Because she owns her buildings, she is allowed to license them as she pleases, including for private functions that serve alcohol; those who rent would need to check with their insurance company and landlord before seeking a permit to serve alcohol. And although Tropeau doesn’t require partygoers to have designated drivers, some studio owners might want to.
Fees for the parties are per person only, to keep things simple. To stay competitive in her area, Tropeau charges $25 for each participant the day of the event. The fees help cover the cost of the liquor permit, time in the studio, instruction by Tropeau, and cleanup afterward. (Even considering those costs, Tropeau can easily net $250 or more for a one-hour party.) Upon request, she will give the group a copy of the music she uses for the dance routine so that the women can practice on their own. This was a particular success after one party, when the CD Tropeau gave them made a special appearance a short time later.
“It happened to show up at the bride’s wedding, and some of them had the courage to do [the routine] for the guests,” Tropeau says. She was surprised and also pleased—and instantly knew her formula for the class was working. “I was so proud of them!”
Setup for the parties is simple, since not many supplies are needed. Many times friends of the bride-to-be like to dress for the occasion (for example, in fishnets or high heels) and often they will bring extras like hats, hairpieces, or other costume accessories to share with all of the partygoers during the dance class. Tropeau will sometimes provide chairs to use during the dance routines she teaches, but for now she hasn’t wanted or needed to invest in any other props.
“I was concerned about my reputation as a teacher of young children, but to be honest, it’s exactly like a jazz class for adults.” —Tammy Tropeau
Although she currently teaches all of the parties herself, Tropeau does plan to train some of her teachers as well. She estimates that they could easily commit to five or six parties in a weekend during the summer wedding season now that the program is established and doing well. She has another idea to keep things interesting: her husband is a firefighter, and she’s considering hiring some of his friends to dress up as hunky firemen and serve the drinks at the parties.
So has Tropeau ever worried about her studio’s name being connected to something many people might see as risqué? “I was concerned about my reputation as a teacher of young children,” Tropeau admits, “but to be honest, it’s exactly like a jazz class for adults.” Sometimes the moves are a little risqué, but the bachelorette parties are simply a different side of the studio’s business—one just for adults. So far, Tropeau reports that she hasn’t heard any concerns about the parties from other customers.
Most of all, she wants the women to learn some legitimate dance moves, have fun together, and be confident in their bodies. The inviting and relaxed environment of a bachelorette party is just what some of the women (most of whom are not dancers) need in order to feel comfortable learning choreography.
Tropeau urges other dance studio owners to consider the business advantages of offering bachelorette parties. In addition to being a quick moneymaker, it’s one of the easiest, most fun ways she supports her business and connects in the community. And if bachelorette parties aren’t all the rage in your neighborhood, try a different tack—try a girls’ night out, a burlesque workshop, or chair dance classes. See what’s popular in the nearest big city’s nightlife, or do some research to see if anything similar is being offered in your town.
If you aren’t comfortable teaching a class like this or simply can’t add another thing to your schedule, look into hiring an independent instructor who is already experienced in one of these styles. You might be surprised at how many women in your community would be interested in a specialty class or workshop.
“I would recommend dance teachers give it a go,” Tropeau says. “All in all it has been great fun. And when something is good, people tend to talk!”
Los Angeles’ Lula Washington Dance Theatre threw itself a bon voyage showcase and party last week at its Crenshaw Boulevard studios on the eve of its first tour to China, according to a story in The Los Angeles Times.
After three years of preparation and an earlier trip cancellation due to the H1N1 scare, the tour—which began May 20 and runs to June 13—includes performances in 12 cities and a range of cultural outreach activities for the company and with Chinese students.
At the showcase, the troupe previewed two works-in-progress that founder and chief choreographer Washington created especially for the trip, which is sponsored by Sias International University in Henan province. In addition to private donations, the U.S. State Department and four Chinese provincial governments provided additional funding, said Erwin Washington, executive director and Lula’s husband.
This trip and a 20-city tour of Russia last fall, are milestones for the ensemble, now in its 31st season. In addition to ballets by Washington and Washington-Miller, the repertory includes pieces by esteemed and iconic African American dance-makers such as Rennie Harris and Donald McKayle. The multi-racial company ranges from 12 to 16 dancers (depending on the project).
Washington received her greatest celebrity when director James Cameron tapped her to create movement for the Na’vi in Avatar. For the full story, visit www.latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2011/05/Lula-Washington-dance-theatre-makes-first-China-trip.html.
Monsters of HipHop’s Sea Monsters Dance Cruise features master classes by top Monsters choreographers, stops at sunny islands, dance parties, special events, and much more.
The cruise will depart June 27 at 5:00 p.m. from Miami and sail to Grand Bahama Island; Norwegian Cruise Line’s very own private island paradise, Great Stirrup Cay; and Nassau, Bahamas. Enjoy exclusive beach games, a dance party, autograph session, Club Stylz Showcase & Battle, commemorative Monsters tee, and more. Monster choreographers will be teaching four days of master classes aboard ship. Return is set for July 1.
This Monsters special event is limited to the first 100 registered dancers. Special Monsters Dance Cruise rate includes meals with Norwegian’s freestyle dining plan, upgraded staterooms, and “freestyle fun” all week. Download the Sea Monsters Cruise information packet by visiting the Sea Monsters Cruise Facebook page. More information is available at www.monstersofhiphop.com or by calling Monsters Dance Conventions at 888.566.6787.
Dancers can discover the basic elements of the sultry tango at an Argentine Tango Party to be held December 4 from 9:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. at the 92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Avenue, New York City. A class will be held at 8:00 p.m.
The first hour of each party is a group lesson, with cocktails, light refreshments, and tango dancing, milongas, valses and Latin musica tropica until 2:00 a.m. Couples are welcome, and singles are encouraged. The event is hosted by Karina Romero and Dardo Galletto, and will feature tango performances at 11:00 p.m.
Cost is $15, with college students paying $10 after 11:00 p.m. For more information, visit www.92Y.org.