Words from the publisher Almost every teacher who has been at it for a while says, “The kids today are not what they used to be.” They may be different, but I am beginning to understand why. Our kids live in a world where they arrive at school or the movie theater looking for the…Read More
Step Up: High Water This entry in the Step Up series centers on twins Tal and Janelle, who move from Ohio to Atlanta, home of High Water—the city’s most competitive performing arts school. As they attempt to navigate their new world—on and off the dance floor—they discover just how deep they’re willing to dive to…Read More
NYCB’s Woetzel Named New Juilliard President While The Juilliard School’s Dance Division is often considered the pinnacle of higher-ed dance training, a dancer has never held the school’s top job. As of next summer, that will no longer be the case. Juilliard announced in May that former New York City Ballet dancer Damian Woetzel will…Read More
Words from our readersRead More
We’ve all heard the saying, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” It may sound clichéd, but it’s true. A positive first impression sets the tone for your relationships with customers and plays a vital role in building your business. How your school looks and feels when potential clients first drive by or walk in can impact the entire customer experience.Read More
Ask most professional dancers where they got their start, and they’re likely to name a dance school you’ve never heard of. That’s because, like most of us in the field, they were introduced to the world of dance through their hometown studios. These small independently owned businesses are the backbone of the dance industry. They offer children their first vision of themselves as dancers, their first taste of across-the-floor euphoria, their first memory-making moments on the stage. They ignite the dance spark and nurture the flame through the most crucial years of a dancer’s development.Read More
Perhaps the question “When do you know it’s time for a bigger studio?” isn’t difficult to answer when your studio space is a closet.Read More
by Karen White
The educational power of movement serves as the foundation of Locally Grown, a residency program through which Fusionworks Dance Company uses modern dance to take schoolchildren on an academic journey into subjects such as marine life, immigration, haiku, and earthquakes.Read More
by Heather Wisner
If you want to add contemporary dance to your studio’s schedule, your first task might be to ask yourself, “What exactly is contemporary dance?” It may sound like a silly question, but ask five different studio owners and teachers and you’ll get five different answers.Read More
by Karen White
Dance intensives are called that for a reason—generally, a lot of learning is crammed into a limited time. The dancers are expected to rise to the occasion—fast—in an unfamiliar atmosphere where everything from experiencing new movement to finding the bathroom can prove challenging.
Dancers who spend one, two, or three weeks of their summer with the bicoastal School of Creative and Performing Arts (SOCAPA) tackle all that—plus they perform in one or more professional-quality dance videos.Read More
by Joseph Carman
When flamenco artist Carlota Santana demonstrates her snaking arms, articulate fingers, fiery footwork, stalking strides, and laser-like gaze for observers at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, she evokes the ancient echoes of Gypsies in Andalusia. The pride and passion of her flamenco moves ignite the soul. Santana has produced numerous flamenco symposiums at Duke University, but they represent only a fraction of her efforts to share the technique and cultural aspects of this art form through performance and instruction.Read More
Let’s imagine that one town has two very good schools, and let’s say that they are roughly equal in size and that each offers a quality dance education. What could make one school stand out above the other?Read More
Located only 45 minutes from New York City, Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts provides a personal approach to dance education with extensive performance opportunities and access to a wide range of guest artists. The Dance Department offers an intensive, conservatory-style BFA degree that trains students to be well-rounded performers and choreographers. The BFA curriculum includes a strong theoretical base in a variety of dance studies and required liberal arts courses.Read More
After months of attending conferences and giving speeches across the United States and Canada, I’ve discovered that there is always more to appreciate about our dance education community.
We are witnessing a time in dance history when many school owners have become smart small business owners who offer quality dance education to every child—and they are being rewarded with financial success. For dance teachers, there have never been more opportunities to teach, not only at these schools but also in a new field that has evolved, in which master teachers travel throughout North America to teach and choreograph at small-town studios. And everywhere they go, they inspire young people to pursue their dance dreams.Read More
Today school owners want to learn to lead with confidence, both in their schools and as mentors, leaders, and teachers in their communities. They want to be part of a unified voice in dance education that stands for everything that is good for their students and the field. By working together, teachers and school owners can preserve the integrity of dance education—and, on a personal level, evolve in this exciting, ever-changing world of dance and dance studios.
I am proud to lead this call to unified action by founding the International Dance Entrepreneurs Association (I.D.E.A.), the first business association for dance school owners who are ready to stand up for a business model based on a code of ethics. In addition, I.D.E.A. focuses on cultivating new knowledge—the members’ website is loaded with management tools, e-learning courses, and webinars, along with such tools as customizable forms, correspondence, policies, coloring pages, and marketing materials. Regional professional development seminars will be held around the United States and, eventually, internationally.Read More
It’s September, and all around the United States kids are returning to school and dance studios are beginning their fall sessions. This is also the time of year when competition directors begin hiring adjudicators for the upcoming season. If you aim to book your first gig as a competition judge this year, it’s time to make your move. Put your best foot forward with these tips from three competition directors and three seasoned adjudicators.Read More
Not too long ago, marketing at most dance schools meant investing big bucks in printing, postage, and newspaper ads. Many school owners couldn’t pay for that kind of marketing, but nowadays, social media puts all schools on a level playing field. My motto is “Give it the time, and it will give you the return.” Where many school owners make mistakes, however—and squelch their social media success—is in moving beyond dance into hot-topic issues in their posts.Read More
Many school owners, when they think of hiring non-teaching support staff, want someone to run the front desk. However, in the 21st century, operating a dance studio requires not only a website but also a social media presence, marketing skills, and, often, offerings beyond dance classes, such as birthday parties and competition teams. Studio owners who limit their employee roster to teachers and receptionists may be missing out on creative ways to boost revenue. Read on to explore how some studio owners are delegating important roles, freeing themselves to focus on teaching and their school’s overall health.Read More
Does that Nutcracker recording keep buzzing in your head from September through December? Some dance school owners and teachers think so, and they’ve decided not to follow the Sugar Plum Fairy’s lead. Included here are four directors who have created or produced holiday shows that offer alternatives to The Nutcracker and still draw audiences.Read More
Forget the stereotypes of backstabbing and rudeness among studio owners—competitiveness doesn’t have to be the norm. Nor do studio owners have to feel alone in facing challenges, from fundraising to coping with difficult clients. Those who team up in sister-studio relationships often find unexpected benefits.
Some studio owners share resources such as costumes, teachers, and even students. They collaborate on shows to reduce the burden of production costs as well as expose their students to new ideas and ways of thinking. Perhaps most significant, they lean on each other for moral support and answers to questions that only another studio owner can understand.Read More
“Mindful Diversity”: In this issue we explore racial and cultural diversity in dance schools and why it’s important. You can read about that in the story, which starts on page 82; what I want to do here is make a pitch for diversity in a broader sense.
“Honor or Insult?”: Not long ago, a high school in Utah found itself in hot water over a drill team dance. Clad in Native American–themed costumes, feathers, and braided wigs, the students pounded their feet, spun, and raised their arms to a recording of drums and eagle screeches. One parent, a member of the Paiute tribe, felt her culture was being mocked, and her unhappy post led to an apology from the school. The number was withdrawn, never to be performed again.Read More
As the director of Dance Theatre of Harlem School, Endalyn Taylor had plenty of experience with assessing students. During her 10 years at the school, which included serving as assistant director for education and outreach, the former Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH) ballerina scrutinized dancers at all levels, from beginners to those in the pre-professional group that fed into the company.
But when she left the DTH School in 2014 to become an assistant professor of dance at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, Taylor confronted a dilemma new to her: how to assign academic grades to students’ classroom performance that would be honest from her perspective as a professional dancer yet fair to her students.
“When I started teaching at the university, I brought my history of teaching and training with me—and that was a very conservatory-dance mindset, where what I was mostly looking for was how well someone executed [technique],” Taylor says.
She adds that even though her department uses a syllabus and grading rubric that measures aspects other than technical competence (such as attitude and understanding concepts and principles), the focus on technique still left her with questions about her approach to grading. “I had wonderful students who were so very present in the class,” she says. “Maybe they didn’t come in with the best aesthetic or physical ability, but they were the most giving; they had a certain energy.”
She says she changed her approach this school year. “Now my mindset has shifted to how they’re progressing, how they’re working, the qualities of the movement, their approach to corrections, and not so much ‘This person’s leg doesn’t go up as high’ [as those of other students].”
Taylor isn’t alone. Message boards, social media threads, and conference speeches and workshops abound with discussions about the complexities of applying academic grades to the art of dance.Read More