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Trey is the Chief Operations Officer of TicketBiscuit, the parent company of TutuTix
Browsing All Posts By Trey Hoffman

Dance Photography: 4 Photography Tips

Dance Photography: 4 Tips

When many people think of dance, they think of the beauty of its motion, its grace and its uniformity. Those qualities, though beautiful, are ephemeral. If you’re a photographer, or simply a parent who’s taken an interest in dance photography, you want to capture the fleeting magic of dance in your photos. Consider these four suggestions on how to do it.

“Photographers need to understand this movement and how to capture it.”

1. Understand Movement

During all performances, whether dancers are beginners or advanced, they’re going to be on the move. For dance photography, you need to understand this movement and how to capture it without ending up with a bunch of blurry photos.

The main way to capture this movement correctly is by focusing the camera. During dance performances, some photographers will use auto focus instead of manual focus, which can take too long and cause you to lose desirable shots. If your camera has the capability, use continuous auto focus so it will stay focused while you move around to capture different angles.

Having a fast lens with a high frame rate is also beneficial. This way, you can continually shoot without having to refocus every single time, and you’ll get more frames out of it. This technique gives you a better chance of capturing that one breathtaking photo. Lastly, consider getting a monopod or tripod, as this equipment can help steady your shot as you move.

2. Get to Know Lighting

Lighting is a critical part of dance photography. However, during dance performances, capturing the right lighting is hard. Many performances will take place in low lighting in dark rooms. Sometimes the lighting will be colored to help set the scene for a performance. As a photographer, this can throw off your images if you don’t know how to handle this dark and colored lighting.

Many theaters and venues also will not allow any flash to go off during the performance, meaning you need to get creative if you’re looking to create the right photo. Moreover, if you are taking pictures at a live event, you must respect the event’s photo policies, as well as the viewing experience of other attendees.

Lighting plays a large part in whether your photos come out great or poor. Lighting plays a large part in whether your photos come out great or poor.

First, photographers need to determine the color temperature of the stage. Every type of artificial lighting has a color. For instance, most household lighting is orange, and fluorescent lights are green. Once you’re familiar with reading color temperature, you can easily figure out how to get your best photo.

Go into your white balance settings in your camera and adjust your color temperature which is usually set off by numbers. The lower numbers are for orange and red light, the high numbers are for white and blue lights. If you’re attempting to take photos during a performance with colored light, turn your saturation down as far as it will go. Otherwise, your photos will be oversaturated, which can affect the shape of your figures.

3. Look at Your Setting

Before you start shooting, look at the setting your pictures will be taken in. Are you capturing photos of a single dancer with a backdrop, or are you capturing one dancer with others in the background? Looking at your background and foreground before you start shooting, and planning your shots, will allow you to take the best photos possible.

If you’re taking photos of a solo performance, try to get decorations and other items within the frame to make the photo more captivating and interesting. You can shoot past dancers in the front of the photo or capture the dancers in the front and avoid those in the back.

4. Move With Your Shot

In order to capture the most captivating shots, you may need to move with your subject. Move around to capture different angles and lighting with your dancers. Moving around can be helpful in dance photography whether you are taking photos of one dancer or of a whole group. Even if you decide to stay to the left or right of the stage, changing angles and distance can give you a more dynamic set of photos.

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Dance Competition Essentials: 5 Things You Should Always Have

dance competition essentials

Regardless of whether you’re a ballet dancer or into hip-hop, there are a few critical items every dancer needs at competitions. Without these items, something is bound to go awry. While other products may seem more essential, these five help every dancer be at their best at dance competitions. Whether you’re a forgetful person or always on top of your game, don’t forget these five dance competition essentials!

1. Hair Supplies

Believe it or not, hair can play a larger role in your dance score than you think. Along with accurate timing and a smile on your face, your hair should always be put together and kept in place. However, managing these expectations can be difficult.

You may figure that your hair will stay in place on its own, but after performing a few routines, it will begin to come out. That’s why every dancer needs a hairbrush, hairspray and plenty of bobby pins, Backstage noted. Each part of this group is critical to a dancer’s performance. If a dancer’s hair begins to fall out of its style, it can distract them, get in their eyes and potentially cause them to mess up their dance steps. Make sure that the bottle of hairspray is big, as you might have to apply again after a few performances. Pack hundreds of bobby pins, in case a dance partner or teammate needs a few extras.

2. Extra Tights

Tights are an essential dance item and come with almost every dance costume, the University of Texas-Dallas stated. Yet this necessary item often tears quite easily. Torn tights can make a dancer’s appearance look sloppy and disheveled during her performance.

Whether your tights rip while you’re offstage or they catch on a splinter during your first performance, it’s important to have back up! Make sure you pack at least two more pairs of tights in your bag that are the exact same color as your current pair, unless you need different colors for different outfits. You don’t want to be scrambling last minute looking for an extra pair of tights!

3. Warm-up Gear

Every dance studio’s temperature can be different, so it’s important to be prepared. Always bring a pair of loose pants and a zip-up sweatshirt to warm up in before your dance performances. Plus, if your routine involves a lot of movement on the ground, your warm ups will prevent your costume from getting dirty!

4. A Nutritious Snack

A day at a dance competition can sometimes be long and grueling. While some venues may have places that dancers and families can grab a quick bite, not all do. In these instances, it’s wise for dancers to pack a healthy snack for themselves during the competition.

Getting in a nutritious snack, instead of an unhealthy one, can help dancers get through their routines without feeling weighed down. Consider small, easy-to-eat snacks such as cheese and crackers or celery and peanut butter. Both these snacks have a little bit of protein as well as carbohydrates to keep dancers satisfied and energetic throughout their routines.

5. Water

Regardless of the length of your competition, it’s important to stay hydrated. As mentioned, some venues can get really hot, and during more intense routines, dancers may sweat a lot and become dehydrated. It’s important to replenish the fluids lost to keep dancers at their best.

Every dancer at every level needs to constantly drink water to keep from fainting or becoming light-headed during a performance, which can be very dangerous and lead to threatening injuries. Consider getting a large, hard plastic bottle that is resilient and durable. That way, if you’re on the go, you’ll have enough water without immediately needing to fill up.

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4 Ways to Balance Dance and School

balance dance and school

Regardless of what age and level you are, it can be hard to be a student and a dancer. You want to be the best dancer you can be, but you also don’t want to fall behind on your schoolwork. Yet between homework, tests, practices and recitals, it can be hard to get it all done. So what are you to do? Consider these four tips on how to balance dance and school.

“Ask your dance studio owner or teacher for a estimated calendar of events.”

1. Get a Planner

Between school and dance, you may not have much free time. That’s why it’s important to stay organized. One of the best ways to do this is to get a planner. If a paper planner isn’t your thing, consider one of these great organizational apps. As soon as you get your syllabus from each class, log all quizzes, assignments and tests. That way, you can’t miss your assigned homework or a last-minute practice. Visually seeing these tasks a week ahead can also keep you organized. Sometimes you might not know about a performance or recital until a few weeks before. At the beginning of the year, ask your dance studio owner or teacher for a estimated calendar of events that you can log into your planner as well. Hopefully those dates will stay fairly accurate throughout the year so you can keep on top of it all.

2. It’s OK to Put School in Front of Dance

Some days, it may seem like dance is more important than school. You have more fun there anyway, right? However, at the end of the day, academics still matter. If there is a way to compromise, then make it happen. Otherwise, put school first. At the end of the day, dance may not be worth it if you’re failing classes. If you have a big test or presentation coming up, work on it during your free time at dance practice or a recital. However, if you know that you won’t have that free time at dance, it might be better to skip it.

3. Time it Right

As a dancer, you may tend to put a little too much on your plate. Aside from school and dance, you may also try to balance a job, friends and time with family. Be careful – this can lead to a fast burnout if you try to make it all work. Each week, plan out your timing. Look at how much time you plan to spend at dance, at school, on homework and so on. If you don’t have time for everything, it’s important to cut out activities that matter less. Though it could be hard to cancel on good friends, it might be necessary. Make sure you dedicate the most time in your day to dance and school. If you have extra time at the end of your day, great! If not, then it’s time to make some cancelations.

4. Think About Home School

If you’re looking to be a serious dancer, it might be time to think about home school. That way, you can plan your hours around practice and recitals. However, if you decide to do this, it’s important to talk to your teachers, parents and dance directors first. They may decide against the idea or note that it isn’t the smartest move for you. Your parents or guardians may also note that they don’t have the time to teach you at home. Sometimes, you may be able to compromise. Consider meeting halfway by going to class part of the time and then attending dance classes for the rest of the day. That way, your schoolwork is still partially structured while being able to focus on dance.

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How to Start a Musical Theatre Program

musical theatre program

Starting a musical theatre program is no easy feat, especially if you’re only fluent in dance programs. However, oftentimes, dance and musical theatre mix. Many people who are in musical theatre programs are also talented dancers, and vice versa. So if you have talented dancers asking if you have any musical theatre programs, you don’t want to lose them. Establishing both can also help boost your business and brand. Consider these five tips on how to begin your own musical theatre program.

1. Think About Your Administration

When planning your musical theatre program, it’s important to think about your management team, the American Association of Community Theatre stated. If you already have a well-established dance program, it might be a little easier to get a musical theatre program off the ground. Simply consider if you have staff members, or even experienced dancers, who have backgrounds in musical theatre and would be willing to teach it with you.

Or, you may want to keep the two programs completely separate and bring on a second staff mainly affiliated with musical theatre program. It may be easier to organize events and programs if you have two separate staffs. However, more staff members means more money, which you might not have right off the bat. Consider your options when initially planning a musical theatre program.

2. Consider Your Finances

Before establishing a musical theatre program, it’s important to review your budget. Look into how much you’ve made for the dance program, and what savings you have that you might be able to apply to the musical theatre program. Review your financial options with an advisor or a trusted bank member.

It also may be smart to keep your earnings from the dance program and musical theatre program separate, especially if you have separate staff members for each, the AACT recommended. Sorting out your budget before investing in a musical theatre program is key, especially so you don’t immediately jump into turmoil, according to The New York Times. Many companies are willing to throw in the towel because of financial crises that could have been avoided.

3. Get To Know the Market

Look into your competitors in the area to find out when they are hosting events, shows and what prices they are charging for dance and music classes. This step is especially critical if you are unfamiliar with the musical theatre business. You want to offer competitive prices so that your program is earning the same amount of money as companies around you.

Adversely, you don’t want to offer unrealistic prices that have customers running for the hills. Do lots of research when considering starting up a musical theatre program to make sure you get off on the right, competitive foot.

4. Think About What Makes You Different

With competitors in mind, what makes you different? It’s important to stand out from the rest, the Guardian noted. Otherwise, you may not get that initial business boom you were looking for. It’s important to find your unique selling point and run with it. Use it in every way possible to make sure that your business is marketable and gets people talking. Whether you have a well-known, notable dance teacher, or you have one of the best locations in town, make sure you have a few outstanding factors that cause customers to want to try you out.

5. Build Your Brand

Now that your dance program also includes a musical theatre program, it’s time to rebrand. Think about what that constitutes. Do you plan to change the name of the business or keep it? What about the logo and the website? If you are putting both programs under one business, but they are at two different locations, it’s important you create business cards and labels noting both. You don’t want to confuse new customers when they eagerly arrive for their first lesson.

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DIY Dance Studio Decor on a Budget

DIY Dance Studio Decor, On a Budget

If you’re a new studio owner looking for some ideas on decorating your new space or just looking to refresh your current space, you might be seeking out a DIY way to create dance studio decor that won’t break the bank! Decorating can be so stressful, time consuming and expensive—especially when you’re doing DIY projects on the floors, walls and furniture. However, with some good tutorials and a long weekend you can transform your space in no time!

Cubby Revamp Project

Cubby Shelf

When starting up a new studio some of the essential items can be the most expensive to buy. A large cubby or shelving unit can be very expensive to buy brand new. This DIY project from a blogger on “My Love 2 Create” suggests a way to take a cubby shelving unit from the dumpster to a dance studio! This blogger found her cubby unit abandoned by the side of a dumpster, but you could also check various re-stores or the local dump. Once you have your unit, let the fixing begin!! She shows you how easy it is to transform a piece of furniture from shab to fab!

Top Hat Lighting

Top Hat Light Fixtures

Lighting can be one of the hardest projects to do on a tight budget! Especially something as fancy as a ceiling fixture. However, this DIY tutorial on top hat light fixtures shows you how to brighten up your studio or lobby space (with a twist!). The best part is that you only need 3 simple (and cheap) materials to get the project done! If you have more room and want to create some additional desk lamps to match your fixtures for your studio or lobby, all you have to do is use a lamp base and screw top with the hat as a shade. The linked blog has the details of the project, including a step by step tutorial on creating both the ceiling and the desk top hat fixtures.

Polka Dot Wall

Polka Dot Wall

Tackling a wall decoration project can seem like one of the most overwhelming and expensive projects to tackle from the kind of paint, to all of the professional supplies involved to make your wall a work of art. But what could be easier, cuter and more fun than a polka dot wall, made with sweet potatoes!? This tutorial shows you how to create your own fun and colorful polka dot wall with acrylic paint, sweet potatoes, and materials that you can find around the house. It’s an easy project to do by yourself, or you can grab a friend or even the kids! The best part is that this project saves you a day full of headaches and frustration at the home improvement store looking at paint chips and the tutorial writer even suggests mixing some of your own colors with the acrylic paints. The blog post linked gives you the step-by-step instructions to creating this fun work of art!

Paper Bag Lobby Floors

Paper Bag Lobby Floors

Flooring in the lobby can be such a hassle to figure out! There is constantly traffic coming in and out, moms with their coffee, little siblings with snacks, and not to mention those rainy days where keeping the floor clean can seem impossible. This tutorial shows you how to transform your wood or concrete lobby floors into a durable floor that will take a little bit of a beating, with a few simple supplies. The feature of this project is that the look of the floors is so rustic and simple, it’s easy to clean and it hardly shows the wear and tear! The blogger that posted this DIY idea, even made a post linked to a year later to show how well the floors held up after much use.

 

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What’s Trendy for Dance Costumes 2016

dance costumes 2016

As a dance teacher, you constantly want to stay up to date with the latest trends, including performance styles, music, and most importantly, costumes! Costume trends are ever-changing, following inspiration from actual style trends as well as pulling trends from other decades. As a result, it can be hard to keep up. Luckily we’re here to help keep you on top of the latest trends as soon as they come out. Let your dancers shine in these trends for dance costumes 2016.

1. 90’s hip hop

If you’ve got a few hip-hop dancers at your studio, they better get ready for dressing like 90’s  rappers. This year’s costumes include lots of harem pants, joggers, jerseys and even camouflage, accessorized with beanies and flannel shirts, according to Weissman costumes. Many of the colors are inspired by urban looks, including graffiti designs and geometric neon prints. Pair these costumes with your favorite pair of Converse sneakers or high-tops to complete the look.

2. 80’s style

The 80’s are back again! These costumes channel Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, Michael Jackson and all of your other favorite 80’s artists. This season, dress your dancers in hologram metallics, mesh, leather and neon-colored geometric and animal prints. According to A Wish Come True costumes, hot colors include bright pinks, blues, yellows, greens, oranges and of course, black. Accessorize these costumes with leg warmers, studded accessories, denim vests and patent leather combat boots to complete the look. For the final touches, give your dancers colored highlights and blue eye shadow.

3. Havana nights

Many costumes have taken on a Spanish and Cuban influence this year. A lot of the costumes embody a look from flamenco and salsa dancers. The hottest costumes include lots of ruffles, feathers, rose prints and skirts. If you’re looking to channel Cuban influences, dress your dancers in oranges, pinks and yellows with off-the-shoulder tops. If you’re looking for a more authentic Spanish style, aim for red and black and a ruffled skirt. Accessorize with lace pieces, rose hair clips, hoops and heels!

4. 60’s mod styles

The 60’s mod look has stuck around for another year. These costumes include looks from artists like Twiggy and go-go dancers. Dress your dancers in polka dots, halter necks and geometric prints. The hottest colors include pinks, blues and yellows, as well as the standard black and white. Pair these looks with penny loafers, oxfords and flats, and high socks! Complete the look with cute headbands and big eyes.

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How to Perfect Your College Dance Audition

college dance audition

You’ve finally narrowed down the list of schools you’re going to apply to, and have been daydreaming about life after graduation and all the excitement that comes with growing and maturing as a dancer in a college program. Big things are on their way! But first, you have to get through the college dance audition process. The pressure is tough and the competition can seem intense, but there’s a better way to think about auditions. They’re a chance for your unique personality to shine and for you to get a better sense of whether the school is the right fit for you.

A typical college dance audition begin with a ballet class and is followed by solo performances, improvised performances, classes in other styles like jazz and contemporary and even an interview process. While nervousness is natural, don’t let your anxiety get in the way of showcasing all you have to offer as a dancer. Extensive research and preparation and a positive attitude are key to making the best impression and helping you stand-out from the rest of the pack.

Follow our tips below to perfect your college dance audition.

Do Your Homework

Every college dance program is unique, and judges want to see that you’re a good fit for their program. Spend time in the weeks leading up to your audition learning all you can about the college and its program, the types of courses it offers, the styles of dance it performs and its values and mission. Think about how you can contribute to the program, and which of your personal and dance qualities line up with its values. Having these kinds of answers ready will prove useful in the interview phase.

Once you register for the audition, you will receive a packet detailing the schedule and specific requirements of the audition and what will be expected of you. Pay attention to this document and refer back to it frequently, noting the requirements for your clothing, costumes, makeup and shoes, and whether you need to bring photographs of yourself, an audition tape or a dance resume. If you have a better idea of what to expect you will feel more confident, and following the requirements carefully shows you pay attention to the details, which is a quality of any great dancer.

Devote Time to Preparing Your Solo

The solo performance is usually only 90 seconds long. In this short time you have to show the judges who you are as a dancer, which can be overwhelming! To make sure you’re truly showcasing all that you have to offer, prepare and practice your solo far in advance of the audition. Heather Guthrie, the dance coordinator at Southern Methodist University, told DanceSpirit Magazine that she recommends starting to practice your solo at least two months in advance.

It’s fine to choreograph the dance yourself, or have a coach or instructor do it for you. Even if you do it yourself, make sure you’re practicing the dance in front of teachers and receiving feedback on it so you can make it the best it can be. Focus on showing your personality in the dance, and not the number of high-flying tricks you can do, since coaches want to see your spirit and style more than flashy skills. Make sure both your technical precision and presentation skills are as well-developed as they can be. And when the time comes to perform, take a deep breath, smile and go for it, knowing you’ve prepared as best you could.

Practice in Multiple Styles

A typical feature of a college dance audition is being asked to perform in a style other than your primary one, for example having to participate in a hip-hop or jazz class when you’re trained in ballet. This is because judges want to see that you’re versatile and can adapt quickly and confidently to new choreography. Prior to audition season, add a class or two in a different style to your schedule so you can get more comfortable dancing an unfamiliar genre and also get better at learning new skills and memorizing new routines quickly.

“Focus on personality in your solo dance, not your tricks.”

However, don’t drive yourself crazy trying to learn every style of dance on the planet. These tests are more to see how you dance and act in uncomfortable situations. “Our predominant technique is Graham,” said the dance chair at SMU Patty Harrington Delaney in an interview with DanceTeacher Magazine. “A lot of people have never done Graham before, and we know that. We’re looking for their openness to the direction, their attentiveness and spatial quality.”

Calm Your Nerves

Being nervous on the big day is normal, but it’s important to keep your nerves under control so they don’t impact the quality of your performance. Don’t think about all eyes being on you, but instead think about how you are talented and have prepared to the best of your ability. Remember why you dance – for the passion, the excitement and the ability to tell a powerful story through movement. Focus on the moment you are in, and not the next test or whether you are going to be accepted or not.

Follow these tips, then take a deep breath – you’ve got this!

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5 Festive Holiday Themes for Dance Performances

themes for dance performances

“The Nutcracker” is a holiday staple as much as a gorgeously garlanded tree, prettily wrapped present or warm mug of hot chocolate. Clara, Drosselmeyer and the Sugar Plum Fairy have been part of the holiday season since the ballet was first performed in Russia in 1892. While putting on “The Nutcracker” with your studio is sure to wow, why not try something new this year? These five holiday themes for dance performances are fresh and creative celebrations of the season.

1. A Christmas Carol

You’ve heard the story hundreds of times, but have you ever seen a ballet interpretation of the Dickens’ classic? “A Christmas Carol’s” dramatic scenes, from Fezziwig’s gleeful holiday ball to the Ghosts of Christmas Past and Present whisking Scrooge from his bed and flying him across the city, lend themselves well to whimsical choreography. Bustling ensemble scenes set in the lantern-lit streets of Victorian England promise a festive performance that will have audiences experiencing the classic story in a whole new way.

2. The Steadfast Tin Solider

Based on a fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen, “The Steadfast Tin Solider” is a love story that will have children wondering what the toys under their trees are really up to. A tiny tin soldier falls in love for a paper doll ballerina, and they dance and twirl together beneath the sparkling light of a Christmas tree until the solider gives the ballerina his heart. It’s no lightweight tale – the pair meets a heartbreaking end when a cold winter breeze from an open window sweeps the ballerina into the fireplace – but audiences will be enraptured by this sweet tale of tiny love.

3. White Christmas

Celebrate the season with vintage class and flair by performing this Irving Berlin classic. Two entertainers fresh from the army put on a Christmas show at a cozy Vermont inn with two lovely singing-and-dancing sisters. Spectacular sets, colorful costumes and some of America’s favorite Christmas songs will have audiences clapping and singing along during a performance of this holiday favorite from the Fifties.

4. The Hip Hop Nutcracker

Treat audiences to a fresh and energizing spin on a classic. “The Hip Hop Nutcracker” takes Tchaikovsky’s classic score and turns it on its head – literally. Fierce hip hop choreography breathes new life into the tale, injecting it with an energetic dose of modern, urban flair, trading Clara’s grand living room for the city streets. We’re sure you audience haven’t seen anything like it before – and that they’ll be on their feet cheering by the end.

5. A Winter Fairy Tale

Add another performance to your typical seasonal lineup with “A Winter Fairy Tale,” a traditional Russian New Year’s Eve story. The forest animals are having their Wintertime celebration deep in a snowy, enchanted forest when the Bat Queen swoops in and steals away an innocent bunny. The forest animals unite, along with a Magician and stunning Rose Maiden, to rescue the bunny in this delightful winter fable set to music by Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov.

Celebrate the most wonderful time of the year by adding one of these festive and fresh themes for dance performances to your studio’s holiday lineup.

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How to Start a Special Needs Dance Program

One amazing trend that’s been gaining a lot of attention in the dance community in the past few years is new programs for children with special needs. These classes, often called adaptive dance, allow kids of all ages and abilities to experience the mental and physical perks of dance class, all while having a blast with other students. If you’ve been considering starting an adaptive dance program at your studio, you may be wondering what it should entail and how to get it off the ground. Here are some tips that will help you cater to the children in your community with a special needs dance program.

The Benefits of Dance Classes

It often helps to understand just how dance classes can benefit students with special needs. Michael O’Donnell, whose 6-year-old daughter Kiera has Down’s Syndrome, explained to San Diego Family magazine that adaptive dance classes have a number of benefits for both the children and society.

“Dance allows creative expression, both individually and in a group setting, encourages exercise and promotes healthier living,” O’Donnell explained to San Diego Family magazine. “An argument can be made that dance stimulates the intellect and learning as well.”

Further, dance classes allow children to become comfortable interacting with new people. On the other side of the same coin, having an adaptive dance class will help to break down barriers between your existing students and their peers with special needs, fostering strong and inclusive relationships.

Considerations When Starting a Special Needs Dance Program

One of the most important things to consider when you start forming a new program is whether you have an experienced teacher. Expert Beacon explained that you’ll want someone who has experience working with children with special needs to teach or at least help out with the class. If you can’t find a teacher who fits the bill, consider partnering with a occupational therapist or special educator in your community. They’ll be able to help you create a class plan and run each session.

You’ll also need to think about your studio’s accessibility. If you’re on the first floor, this shouldn’t be a problem. However, if you have a second- or third-floor location, make sure there’s an easy way for handicapped individuals to reach you. Otherwise, you may not be able to welcome all potential students.

Finally, pick a day and time that will be convenient for your new students. Dance Advantage explained that students with special needs and their parents often strive for consistency in their schedules, so it’s important to hold classes at the same time each week. This will help minimize any problems regarding rides, work schedules and other commitments.

How to Spread the Word About Your Classes

Once you’ve figured out all the logistics, it’s time to find students for your new adaptive dance program. Dance Advantage explained that other community organizations that cater to individuals with disabilities are usually willing to help spread the word about dance classes. Reach out to your local chapter of the Special Olympics or a community center to see if they’ll help you publicize your program.

You can also reach out to local schools and employ traditional marketing strategies, like posting fliers, using ads or posting on social media. Encourage your current students to share social posts and talk to their friends about the new program. Before you know it, you’ll likely have a fresh group of dancers who are ready and eager to learn all that you have to offer.

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How to Create Believable On-Stage Dance Chemistry

dance chemistry

Chemistry is an essential part of many dance performances, especially duets. However, it’s a little bit like musicality – difficult to explain and even harder to teach. After all, many people might say that dance chemistry can’t be learned, it just has to be felt.

That’s not entirely true though. Talented dancers can figure out ways to amp up the sizzle when performing with a partner. It just takes time and lots of practice. Here’s what dance teachers should know about improving on-stage dance chemistry between their students.

What Qualifies as Good Chemistry?

So what exactly is “good chemistry”? Well, similar to musicality, it’s something that you know when you see it. When a dyad can work seamlessly and dance effortlessly together, that’s chemistry. However, contrary to popular belief, there don’t have to be any romantic feelings between the partners for them to have that special connection. Trust and mutual respect are often the key components of believable on-stage chemistry.

Some past performers on “So You Think You Can Dance” explained you can create natural chemistry by drawing from real life experiences. Hear what they had to say in the video below.

Tips to Improve Dancers’ Connections

When you first pair up dancers to perform together, they’ll probably feel a little awkward. That’s completely natural, as it can be uncomfortable to let someone into your personal space. However, it’s your job to work with them to establish the levels of trust and comfort necessary to create believable on-stage chemistry.

“Encourage your dancers to get to know one another.”

The first step toward better dance chemistry is often for dancers to get to know one another. Encourage the performers to talk about the performance and what they hope to get out of it. Fostering open lines of communication will help the pair feel more at ease with their performance.

Next, your dancers will need to get comfortable dancing in tandem and feeding off one another’s energy. Dance magazine explained that your students will need to be comfortable making eye contact if they want to give a great performance.

“Establishing eye contact is the biggest thing—it’s all in the eyes,” Victoria Jaiani, a member of the Joffrey Ballet, explained to Dance magazine. “From the first moment of the first rehearsal we need to learn how to look at one another. It helps us breathe in the music together.”

From here, the best way to improve on-stage connection is simply to practice. The more dancers work together, the stronger their bond will be. However, it’s essential that both partners are working toward the same goal. If one member thinks he or she is better than the other or isn’t willing to collaborate, the pair may run into problems along the way.

“We have to leave our ego outside the dance studio,” Junio Teixeira, a member of the New Jersey Ballet Company, told Dance Informa. “When both dancers are trying to reach the same proposal, the partnership will reach a great level.”

Don't let your dancers forget about connecting with the audience. Don’t let your dancers forget about connecting with the audience.

Another Kind of Chemistry

While having a connection with one another is essential, remind your dancers not to forget about connecting with their audience. Plenty of eye contact, smiling and a general openness will make performers seems more likable to the people they’re entertaining.

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Dance Photography Tips for Studio Owners

Dance Photography Tips

Nothing sells your dance studio to prospective students quite like a perfectly captured photograph. Maybe it’s all your dancers smiling during their final recital number or a great shot of a tumbler in action. Whatever your favorite pictures may be, they’re likely an essential part of your marketing strategy. But sometimes pictures need a little help before they can wow your audiences. Capturing action shots is tricky to begin with and even more difficult when you’re in a dark auditorium. That’s why it’s important for studio owners to learn how to artfully manipulate digital photographs with editing software. Not sure where to start? Here’s a guide with dance photography tips that will help you capture the best pictures and transform them into invaluable works of art.

How to Get the Best Pictures

Just like with choreography or any other work of art, the better your materials are, the more impressive the final product will be. You’re not going to create a breath-taking performance with lackluster tricks, and you probably won’t end up with an amazing photograph if you start out with a sub-par snapshot.

With that in mind, use this tips to get the best pictures possible:

  • Use a digital single-lens reflex camera, also called a DSLR, if possible. These cameras are easy to use and capture much clearer pictures than point-and-shoot cameras.
  • You’ll want to put your camera on the highest ISO setting, which will make the camera more sensitive to light and therefore better able to capture quick snapshots of moving subjects.
  • Try to take photos in quick bursts so you have a number of action shots to choose from. A fast shutter speed will improve the clarity of these pictures.
  • Don’t get stuck in one spot. Move around to capture different angles so you have pictures from every side.
  • Try to take pictures both close up and far away. To accomplish this, you can either use the zoom function or simply move closer to the stage.
Grab your DSLR and get shooting!
Grab your DSLR and get shooting!

Choosing an Editing Program

Before you can start digitally altering your photographs, you’ll need to find editing software. There are many great programs available, and there are options to fit just about every budget. Software like Apple’s Photos is free for Mac users, as are online programs like Pixlr and Photobucket. If you’re willing to spend some money for a more high-tech option, look into Adobe Photoshop Elements or Pixelmator, both of which have low one-time fees.

Whatever program you choose, you’ll need a few key feature editing capabilities. Look for software that offers the following tools:

  • Cropping
  • Straightening
  • Resizing
  • Shadow and highlight adjustment
  • Saturation adjustment
  • White balance adjustment
  • Sharpen and blurring
  • Red-eye removal.

“Photo editing is often learned through trial and error.”

How to Edit a Photograph Step-by-Step

Now that you have a host of pictures and editing software, it’s time to start learning the ropes. For many amateurs, editing pictures is a trial-and-error style process. You have to figure out the flow that works for you! Here are a few guidelines to get you started.

1. Upload and Store Your Images

You’ll need to transfer your pictures from the camera onto the computer, whether it’s through a USB cord or the Cloud. Once they’re uploaded to the computer, create a file for the original images and label the folder clearly so you can quickly find them later on.

2. Pick Out Superior Snapshots

If you have dozens of images to chose from, you can make your job a little easier by doing an initial run-through of all the pictures. Find five or six photos that are clear and focused, and separate them into a new folder. These will be the images that you edit.

3. Crop and Straighten

Start by using the cropping tool to cut off any empty space in the picture. It’s often better to have a close-up view of your subjects than to have them get lost in a big background. You’ll also want to use a straightening tool to level the horizons of your photo. If the picture is on a slant, tilt it so the dancers are standing tall.

Don't be afraid to mess around with test photos to get comfortable with your editing program.
Don’t be afraid to mess around with test photos to get comfortable with your editing program.

4. Adjust the Levels

Now comes the tricky part. There are many different levels that you can adjust in a photograph, including exposure, brightness, white balance, sharpness, shadows, highlights and more. Some pictures may not need adjustment in these departments, but you can fool around with the aspects to see how you can improve the photo.

In general, you may want to tinker with the white balance so that any white objects appear clearly and aren’t tinted by the stage or studio lights. You can also sharpen the image a bit if it’s unclear or blurry. This is also a good time to remove red eye from any of your subjects and smooth out blemishes on any close-up shots.

5. Save or Scrap Your Edits

The great thing about digital photo editing is that it’s easy to revert back to the original picture if your edits don’t come out right. Keep working at your editing skills, and soon you’ll discover that with a few quick tweaks, your photos look as if they were shot by a professional.

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The End of Year Party: 4 Fun Ways to Celebrate the End of Dance Season

end of year party

After the curtain closes on your seasonal rehearsal, there’s only one essential event left for your dance students: the end of year party! It’s common for many dance teams (sports teams, too) to finish off a successful season with a big party. Students usually bring their parents and siblings, and everyone gets to relax, have fun and reminisce about the past year.

This year, use one of these four fun end-of-season ideas to host a bash that no one will forget.

1. Partner with a Local Venue

If there’s a small business in your community that would be a fun venue for your event, see if they’re willing to partner with you to make it happen. It could be a recreational facility, a pizza parlor, ice cream shop, trampoline park or something else. Many times local businesses will be happy to support your students with a discounted rate or in exchange for in-kind services. You never know until you ask, so put reach out to a few companies. You may be surprised at the generosity that you receive!

2. Hold a Parents vs. Students Game

Get everyone on their feet by organizing a parents versus students sporting event. You can all head over to a local sports field for a friendly game of kickball, soccer or basketball. If you have enough students, you can even make it into a studio-wide tournament. The best part about this idea is that you can have a picnic or barbeque going on at the same time. No one will get bored, and you’ll be able to enjoy the great outdoors.

3. Invite a Guest Speaker

You can bring any party to the next level by having a guest speaker give the end-of-year toast. Some good options for people to invite might include local celebrities, past students who have become professional dancers or even members of a local dance troupe. These people often have lots of advice for your budding dancers, and it will make the event that much more memorable.

4. Have a Pinterest Party

Even if you’re on a tight budget, you can kick your gathering up a notch with some fun party ideas courtesy of Pinterest. Simply search for “dance studio party ideas” and you’ll find lots of great options for decorations, food, games and awards. The best part is that most ideas are do-it-yourself, so you can keep the cost of the party reasonable.

No matter what you do, take the opportunity during your end of year event to invite students back for the following year. Make sure parents have information about upcoming events and camps, and give them the opportunity to sign up during the event.It’s a great opportunity to capture registrations from the folks who haven’t yet committed to the coming dance year!

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Choreography Tips: Overcoming Choreographer’s Block

Choreography Tips

Just like writers and painters, dance choreographers hit artistic blocks once in a while. If you’ve experienced this lack of inspiration while creating a performance, you know how frustrating it is! It can be especially stressful to have choreographer’s block if you’re on a tight schedule with a recital or competition coming up. However, there are a number of ways that you can get those creative juices flowing and start planning plies and box turns again. Here are a few choreography tips and tricks to help you create newly inspired choreography.

Find New Beats

If your jazz students do a final number to “All That Jazz” every year at the recital, chances are you’re going to lose momentum while choreographing after a few seasons. After all, how many different routines can one person come up with for the same song?

When this type of block hits, the easiest way to overcome it is to simply pick new music. Try not to choose a song that you’ve done before. Instead, look for something fresh that you’ve never worked with. You’ll be amazed at how naturally the steps flow when the music inspires you.

Get a Fresh Pair of Eyes

Sometimes the moves seem disjointed because you’ve spent too much time in your own head. When this happens, ask someone to give you feedback on your progress.

“I have people come in throughout the process. Friends, colleagues, some who aren’t even dancers,” Amy O’Neal, a dancer and choreographer, explained to Dance magazine. “It helps you get out of your own head, whether you agree with their opinions or not.”

You may want to turn to other dance teachers or even advanced students. A fresh pair of eyes can help you see why the steps aren’t working and get you back on the right track.

Clear Your Mind

Sometimes you just need to step away from the studio, especially if you’ve been working for a long time.

“Take personal time, even if it’s just 20 minutes,” teacher and choreographer Rhonda Miller suggested to Dance Teacher magazine. “Have dinner, read a book, get a cup of coffee – anything that has nothing to do with dance.”

Don’t think about what you’re working on while you take a break. After you’ve relaxed a bit, return to the studio with your fresh mindset and jump back into choreographing with a new perspective.

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Kickstarter Dance: How to Use Crowdfunding to Further Your Studio

Kickstarter Dance

If you’re active on social media, you’ve probably seen a friend or acquaintance trying to raise money through crowdfunding. People use these newly popular platforms to collect donations for trips, creative projects, business startups, tuition and really anything else you could imagine. Because crowdfunding has proven lucrative for many small-business owners, many dance studios try fundraising with KickStarter dance campaigns or other crowdfunding resources when they’re in need of new facilities, recital venues, transportation to competitions, studio upgrades and more.

Some studio owners might be skeptical of this method of collecting donations, but with the right platform and marketing, the results can be impressive. Dance Studio Life explained that one former professional dancer in Virginia managed to raise $2,500 to open her own studio and provide attire for less fortunate students.

If you’re thinking about giving crowdfunding a try, here are some tips and tricks to make the most of your campaign.

The Appeal of Crowdfunding

The reason that crowdfunding has really taken off is simply because it’s a simpler way for people to raise money. Most studio owners know how hard it is to raise a significant sum through car washes or bake sales, and online fundraising gets rid of all that hassle.

The new way to raise money has become especially useful for artists, including those in the dance community. According to Dance Teacher magazine, the Kickstarter dance category actually has one of the highest success rates.

“One of the reasons dancers have been so successful is that they tend to ask for more modest sums, which makes the campaign more manageable and likely to be funded,” Dianne Debicella of Fractured Atlas explained to Dance Teacher magazine. “Dancers also have strong communities and are able to get the word out to their circles.”

Best Practices for Studios

Once you’ve decided to launch a campaign on a crowdfunding site, the first step is to choose which platform suits your needs. Some of the most popular options are Kickstarter, Indiegogo and GoFundMe, but these choices all come with stipulations and parameters that may or may not work with your goals. Take time to research each site, read through their frequently asked questions and see how well similar campaigns are performing. One big decision you’ll need to make is whether to choose an all-or-nothing approach, where projects that don’t meet their goals get none of the pledges.

You’ll also want to do the bulk of your planning well before you launch the campaign. Entrepreneur magazine recommended that you start spreading the word about your goals to your patrons and supporter six months before you go live on a crowdfunding site.

Another best practice is to offer more than just a thank-you email to your donors. You can encourage parents and students to contribute by offering a discount on next season’s tuition or on studio merchandise. This is also a good way to ensure your re-enrollment rates will be high!

Tips for Success

After your launched your campaign, it’s important to stay on top of managing it. After all, you probably won’t meet your goals if you set up the account, then forget about it. Here are some tips to keep in mind as your promote your fundraiser.

  • Post your crowdfunding page to social media accounts, and encourage dedicated patrons to share the link.
  • Don’t be afraid to share the campaign with local arts groups who could generate interest in your cause.
  • People respond well to visuals, so include pictures and videos in your campaign.
  • Find out what promotional tactics work, then adjust your strategy accordingly.
  • Collect donor emails and give them updates after your campaign is complete. Many people will be happy to see what they helped create.
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A Guide to Selling Dance Recital Flowers

Recital Flowers

One tried-and-true method of generating a little extra income at your studio’s dance recitals is to sell bouquets of dance recital flowers to proud parents. This strategy is genius, as parents love having the option to pick up lovely flowers for their dancers without having to make a pit stop at the florist. However, it often takes studios a few years to perfect their flower-selling processes, as the cost, supply, and execution can be a bit confusing. If you’re selling bouquets for the first time, here are some tips to help you make the most out of this recital extra.

Determine the Demand

The first time you’re selling bouquets at your end-of-season recital, you probably won’t know how many to order. Should you assume that half of the parents will purchase flowers? Or maybe three-fourths? It can easily become a guessing game.

However, it’s best to come up with an informed estimate instead of picking a random number. After all, you don’t want to end up with 20 extra bouquets, as that’s just a waste of money. Consider sending out a survey to parents to get an estimate of how many people would buy recital flowers and what price point they’re interested in.

When in doubt, err on the lesser side. It’s better to sell out than to have bouquets left over.

Arrange for Flower Delivery

Hopefully, you left ample time in your flower-planning process to arrange for delivery. Dance Exec recommended that you contact local florists at least one to two months in advance. If you wait until the last minute, you might not be able to get competitive quotes on the style of bouquets you’d like. You also may want to explore online vendors, such as 48 Longstems. Odds are, you’ll get a better price online.

When you’re ordering, keep the price point that parents agreed to in mind. You’ll want to mark up the flowers at much as possible so you can optimize your profits. If you can find quality bouquets for $10 a bundle, you should aim to sell them for around $20 apiece. Another option to consider is just purchasing a large number of roses or carnations and allowing parents to purchase one or more for around $5.

Consider Pre-Selling Bouquets

Another option that dance studio owners suggested on this Dance.net forum is to pre-sell recital flowers. This takes a lot of the guesswork out of the equation and also eliminates the need for someone to man the bouquet booth on recital day.*

If you’re going to do a pre-sale, create order forms and hand them out to your parents. Then you simply give the orders and payment to your local florist, and let them take care of the rest! Parents can pick up their pre-ordered bouquet on recital day. The only downside of this method is that some parents might forget to place their orders and be disappointed come recital day. If you think this may be the case, pick up a few extra arrangements for last-minute sales. Be sure to mark the prices up accordingly!

Other Merchandise to Stock Up On

When you’re selling bouquets at recitals, chances are that parents will be willing to purchase other add-ons for their accomplished dancers. For this reason, it is often beneficial to have other merchandise available at recitals. Consider having branded studio attire, balloons, teddy bears, trophies, or recital DVD forms available for parents. These inexpensive items are often a hit with students and parents alike, and they are a great way to generate a little extra revenue for your studio.

 

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