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

Tricks for Perfect Performance Hair Every Time

Grab your hair spray and arsenal of brushes because it’s that time of year again. With recitals looming, studio owners will be dictating recital hairstyles, and parents everywhere will be scrambling to smooth out their children’s locks. Whether you’re a dance teacher putting finishing touches on your student’s updos or a parent struggling to tame a curly mane, use these tricks to get perfect dance performance hair every time.

For short hair

Dancers with shoulder-length tresses often struggle to get their hair up into ballet buns. There’s always the option to use a fake bun and cover, but there are also ways that short hair can be pulled back into a professional style. The YouTube tutorial below shows how dancers with short hair can slick their locks back with a pomade, then twist any remaining ends into cute little spirals. This trick calls for plenty of bobby pins to hold the hair in place, but it’s a great option for ballerinas who don’t want to go the fake-bun route.

For unruly hair

Dancers with curly, thick or coarse hair may have trouble coercing their hair into desired performance styles. To say it’s challenging to get some hair types into a smooth updo is an understatement. Some dancers use chemical relaxants to get their hair to cooperate, but Dance magazine explained that this will only damage the strands. Instead, students should try using a moisturizer on their hair once a week. On the day of the performance, spray a heat protector onto your hair, then carefully blow dry it, working with a small section at a time and elongating the locks as much as possible while you’re working. Once your hair is dry, use a flat iron to further flatten your locks. With the help of a strong hair wax or balm and a fine-tooth comb, you should now be able to pull your tresses back into a smooth updo.

For the perfect bun

It can be tricky to make a perfectly neat, stable bun, but dance veterans have a few tried and true tricks. Before you begin, you’ll need hair rubberbands/elastics, plenty of bobby pins, hairspray and/or gel, a brush/comb, hairnet, and for this example, a bun “donut” (see example here). Our client Elite Dance Force recommends the following steps in their excellent tutorial:

  1. Starting with wet or gelled hair.
  2. Pulling hair into a high ponytail.
  3. Pull the ponytail through the bun “donut.”
  4. Smooth hair around bun maker.
  5. Add a rubberband around base of bun.
  6. Part hair on right and left of bun. Apply more gel.
  7. Twist one side of hair.
  8. Wrap around bun, gel and bobby pin it.
  9. Repeat on other side.
  10. Wrap hairnet around bun.
  11. Apply any head piece for your dancer’s costume.

For a tutorial that does not use a bun “donut,” check out the video below.

For headpieces

Some cute costumes call for complementary hair accessories, but these are especially prone to falling out while the performers are twirling and leaping. If you’re wearing a headpiece, decorative flower, bow, extensions or fake ponytail, there are a few tricks you can use to ensure the piece stays in place. The most well-known trick is to simply put as many bobby pins as humanly possible onto the accessory. Try to place the pins so they’re crossing each other, as this will create a better hold. Dance parents on the DanceMom forum recommended going all out with 25 or more bobby pins! Another expert tip is to attach some horsehair braid ribbon onto the accessory with hot glue. This will give bobby pins a surface to grip and help the piece to stay put.

Be Gentle

If you’ve ever been a dancer yourself, you probably know how much it can hurt when a parent or teacher is yanking your hair, trying to get it just right. Keep this in mind as you help your students prepare for their performances! Dance Advantage explained that a comfortable dancer is a happy dancer, so being as gentle as possible during prep can go a long way. Here are a few tips to ensure that students don’t leave the hairdressing station with tender scalps.

  • Avoid hair ties with metal clasps, which can easily get tangled or poke into the skull.
  • Let students brush their own hair to get rid of any initial knots and tangles.
  • Pay attention to the body language of the dancer – they might not tell you when you’re pulling too hard!
  • Ask the performer if her ponytail feels comfortable or is too tight.
  • Let dancers wipe any excess hair spray or gel off their skin with a baby wipe, which can otherwise become itchy and dry as the day goes on.
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4 Ideas for a Show-Stopping Dance Recital Finale

Dance Recital Finale

The best performances are often the ones that end with a bang. You know that feeling after a movie where you just sit back in your seat and think, “Wow!” as the credits roll? That’s the same emotion that you should leave your dance parents with at the end of your seasonal recital. A show-stopping dance recital finale is not only rewarding for your students, but it can also encourage parents to re-enroll their little dancers at your studio. That’s why you’ve got to knock their socks off!

Need some inspiration for a killer finale? Here are four tips that will help you impress the audience this recital season.

1. Leverage Your Theme

No matter what theme you pick for the recital, it should be clearly tied into the final performance of the show. Sometimes studios like to do a feel-good piece, like “We’re All In This Together,” as the finale, but you should only go this route if it’s relevant to your overarching theme. Otherwise, you run the risk of having a disjointed show. It doesn’t really make sense to have fairies and butterflies flitting around the stage for dance numbers, then to end with “The Time of My Life.”

Let your imagination run wild with your final performance. The Brooklyn Dance Center demonstrated how an out-of-the-box theme can translate into a fun, unique finale with their #Dance #Selfie performance. The students used old cellphones as props for the show-stopping performance, perfectly capturing the “Instagram” theme.

2. Think Beyond the Stage

Some studios have hundreds of dancers who perform at each recital, so it can be tough to showcase all that talent in the finale. You may choose to have classes prance across the stage in waves, but another option is to bring the performance out into the audience. When you think beyond the stage, you can create an innovative piece that really gets the crowd involved. Older dancers can perform in the aisles, which gives parents a great photo opportunity and contributes to a 360-degree dance experience.

3. Come Full Circle

Take a page out of your favorite novel or play, and use a full-circle ending for your recital. This technique is often used in literature to create the feeling of completeness for audiences. The trick is to clearly tie the beginning of your show into the ending. You can do this for your recital by staging a short introductory performance that gives a preview of what the audience can expect throughout the evening. For example, if you’re doing a “Through The Ages” theme, you could have a few dancers in their decade costumes perform a short piece to kick off the show, then bring this same concept back for the finale.

4. Bring New Life to Old Favorites

Certain dance recital finale songs are tried and true favorites in the industry. Studio owners and dance teachers chimed in with some of their best show-stopping choices on a Dance.net forum. Their picks included:

  • “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now),” C+C Music Factory
  • “Y.M.C.A.,” Village People
  • “We Are Family,” Sister Sledge
  • “Let’s Dance,” David Bowie
  • “You Can’t Stop The Beat,” the cast of “Hairspray”
  • “Footloose,” Kenny Loggins.

These songs are all classics that your audience will enjoy singing along to, but you can make the show more interesting by giving new life to the hits. See if you can find a modern arrangement of the song or a mash-up that includes a current Top-40 track. This will give another level of interest to the finale and make it one to remember.

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Dance Recital Makeup: 6 Tips

Dance Recital Makeup

Whether you’re a studio owner, dance teacher, performer parent or dancer, your brain is probably filled with a flurry of little details the day before a recital. There’s costumes to be steamed, stage props to be perfected and flowers to be purchased. And of course, there’s the issue of applying each performer’s dance recital makeup.

Regular daytime makeup simply doesn’t cut it when it comes to recitals. The dancers are a significant distance from the audience, so a light coat of mascara and a sweep of blush won’t be visible to the proud parents. The concept of stage makeup is tricky and often counterintuitive to new performers, so use these six tips to apply bold, eye-catching dance recital makeup.

1. Clean Those Tools

Before you apply any foundation, eyeshadow or blush, clean off your brushes! Allure magazine explained that cosmetic brushes and spongers are porous and can soak up oil, debris and bacteria. You definitely don’t want to be spreading those around your face! It’s best to be using clean tools to apply your stage makeup, so wash off all your implements the day before the recital. You can use a bit of a moisturizing shampoo or a special brush cleaner to get all the makeup remnants off your brushes.

2. Use the 3-Step Eyeshadow Method

Almost all dance recital makeup includes eyeshadow, and you can make any style look for dynamic by using the three-eyeshadow method. You’ll need three colors for this look: a highlighter, your main color and a dark complementary shade. To start, sweep a light layer of lid primer over your entire eyelid. Gotta Dance NJ recommended that you then liberally apply the highlighter, usually a white or champagne, under your eyebrows and in the corners of your eyes. Lightly blend the highlighter toward the center of your eyelid.

Next, you’ll want to apply the main color, which usually matches your outfit, to your eyelids. Go ahead and sweep a good amount onto each lid, then blend the color upward into the highlighter. For this application to look its best, keep blending until your lid has an ombre effect. The colors should seamlessly transition from dark to light.

Finally, look straight ahead and dab just a bit of the darkest shade into your crease. This will help your eyes to really pop when you’re up on stage. Be sure to blend this color along your crease for a flawless eyeshadow look.

3. Embolden Everyone’s Brows

If there’s one step that some performers forget about, it’s filling in their brows. However, this is a crucial step, especially if you have light or sparse eyebrows. Use a slanted precision brush to carefully outline each brow with color. You’ll want to use a product that’s pretty close to your natural hair color, otherwise your brows might be too prominent. Another option is to use a brow pencil – just make sure it’s sharpened for a neat, precise line.

4. Don’t be Afraid of Blush

You may be tempted to just sweep on a light layer of blush, but those rosy pink cheeks are a crucial part of stage makeup. Many people shy away from this product because when applied liberally, you may look a little clownish. However, you have to keep in mind that blush helps to keep your face colorful and lively under those harsh stage lights. You may think you look silly after applying a heavy coat of pink to your apples, but it will translate into a happy, radiant look on stage.

When you’re applying blush, start with your brush on the apple of your cheek – smile to make the area more prominent – then sweep the color out and upward toward your temples. This will help you look great head-on as well as from a profile view.

5. Blending is Your Best Friend

Whether you’re applying foundation, eyeshadow, blush or lip color, the key to a great look is to blend, blend and blend some more. This technique will ensure that your makeup is cohesive and not splotchy. Many cosmetic gurus like to use foam wedges or sponges to blend out their foundation. However, you can also use a big, soft brush as long as it’s free of any other makeup. Blend your eyeshadow for a flawless transition between colors and work your lip color into the lip liner to make your pout look professional.

6. Cheat a Little

Some people are naturally talented when it comes to applying makeup, but there’s no need to worry if you’re all thumbs. Plenty of dancers have to practice for years before they get the hang of stage makeup application. Luckily, there are some ways you can make your life easier with cosmetic cheats or “hacks.” You can dry up acne with a dot of toothpaste, open up sleepy eyes with white liner, perfect a cat​ eye with an index card or even apply falsies on the first try with the help of a cotton swab and a pair of cuticle scissors.

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Teaching Stage Directions: 3 Tips

Teaching Stage Directions

When you’re preparing for recitals, you’ll probably start thinking about how your dancers will take their performances from the classroom to the big stage. An important part of transitioning dancers into a venue setting is teaching them stage directions like upstage, downstage and the like. This lesson can be tricky, especially if you’re working with young performers, but it’s important for students to learn if they plan to pursue dance in the future. Here are three tips you can use to make teaching stage directions easy and fun.

1. Explain the Terminology

The first step toward helping your students fully comprehend stage directions is to take a few minutes to go over the concept. The Scottish Ballet explained that modern stage directions are from the point of view of the dancer, which makes them easier to learn.

However, there are also the terms upstage and downstage, which may seem counterintuitive to some dancers. The origin of these directions comes from when stages were “raked,” or built on a tilt so the audience could see better. In those days, going upstage, or away from the audience, literally meant going up in elevation. Understanding where the terms came from may be beneficial for your students.

2. Use Directions in the Classroom

Another way to help your dancers get the hang of stage directions is to use them in the classroom. The Dance Exec recommended taping signs to your mirrors that detail stage left and right after you teach the lesson. Begin using the terms during classes and rehearsals so your dancers become accustomed to responding to the directions. You should be sure to use the terms when teaching recital choreography, as these performances will have to be moved out of the studio and onto a real stage.

3. Play Games to Check Knowledge

You can also use games to measure how effective a lesson has been at teaching stage directions. Take down any signs that you may have up, then call out a stage direction – downstage center, upstage right and so on. Have your students go to where they think the direction dictates. Dancers who go to the wrong zone are “out,” and you can continue playing until you have just a few students left. It’s a fun way to test your dancers’ knowledge between run-throughs and other activities.

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5 Inspired Dance Studio Design Ideas

Dance Studio Design Ideas

If you have a defined vision of how you want your dance studio to look, that will make the task of decorating a lot easier. However, many new studio owners may have a lot of competing ideas or no clear path when it comes to interior design. One of the best ways to get inspiration for your dance studio’s design is to browse sites like Pinterest to see what other schools are doing. There are many creative individuals who are happy to share their ideas for others to use. Here are five inspired dance studio design concepts that you may want to incorporate into your new or existing dance studio.

1. Gallery Walls

One of the hottest interior dance studio design trends right now is the collage or gallery wall. This unique decor style can be used in just about any space, from a bedroom to a foyer or even a dance studio! If you have a blank wall in your studio space that you’re not sure how to decorate, a gallery wall will really showcase your personality while adding interest and dimension to the room.

What can you display in the collage? Anything you want! Some framed inspirational quotes may be a good place to start. If you have any ribbons or plaques from dance competitions, throw those into the mix as well. You can also include less conventional items like clocks, wooden initials or chalkboards.

2. Glittery Glamor

If your studio caters mostly to females, you may want to give the rooms a magical feel. What better way to do that than with everyone’s favorite crafting supply?

When you paint the walls of your studio, mix a packet of paint crystals into each gallon. You can pick up this inexpensive product at most home improvement stores, and they usually come in your choice of silver and gold. Then you just paint as usual, but your walls will be instantly glam with their sparkly sheen.

3. Strikingly Mod

A glittery pink wall may be good for your preschool ballerinas, but it’s not the best way to make your studio appealing to male dancers. If you’re trying to attract more boys to your school, make sure the design is “unisex,” so to speak. You can achieve an aesthetic that’s appealing to both boys and girls with a modern-inspired look.

Choose a few bold and vibrant colors, such as electric blue and lemon yellow, to paint the walls with. Make your signage, chairs and tables simple and in a plain color like black or white. The stark contrast will look elegant and sophisticated without being overly feminine.

4. Eclectic Decor

When you are torn between a few great dance studio design ideas, you don’t necessarily have to just pick one. Eclectic decor is especially popular with homeowners, but you can incorporate the premise into your studio. Gather up your favorite decorations and see which unlikely pairings look good together. Sometimes mixing a few sleek modern pieces with more rustic, unfinished elements creates a perfect balance that wouldn’t be possible if you just stuck to one theme.

5. Trophy Displays

If you’ve been teaching dance for a number of years, you’ll likely amassed an impressive collection of trophies. You could simply line them up on shelves for students to see, or you can get creative and think outside the box with your displays.

One fun option – if you have a little bit of money for a renovation – is to install recessed cavities where trophies can be arranged. This will keep them from taking up too much space and create a professional look for your studio. You could also install a narrow shelf around the top of your walls for prominent, yet out-of-the-way storage.

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Dance Competition Checklist: What to Pack

Dance competition checklist

When your first dance competition of the season is approaching, parents are inevitably going to ask you, “What should we bring?” After all, dance competitions are like any all-day sport tournament, and they require a bit of advanced preparation if everyone is going to have a good time. Here’s a simple way to break down must-haves into a dance competition checklist for your eager parents and students.

Costume Concerns

The first big category of necessary items in your dance competition checklist: costumes and accessories. Naturally, your dancers will need their outfits for each performance, as well as the appropriate tights and undergarments. Ask parents to bring an extra pair of tights in each color and a spare set of bra straps if they have them. Some other costume-related items that parents may want to have handy include:

  • Miniature sewing kit
  • Safety pins
  • Lint brush
  • Static guard
  • Stain removal pen
  • Double-sided tape.

During the course of the competition, you may need items like hot glue, body adhesive and rosin, but you should always have those stashed in your dance competition survival kit!

Beauty Bags

The second major category of must-haves in your dance competition checklist is composed of beauty products and tools. It’s best to have extra of any cosmetic that dancers are wearing, be it lipstick, foundation, falsies, nail polish, eyeshadow or blush. Similarly, ask parents to bring along some makeup remover, deodorant, cotton swabs, tweezers and any necessary tools, like makeup brushes, nail clippers and false lash glue. It’s also a good idea to have hair care supplies stashed away somewhere. Don’t dash out the door to a competition without these items:

  • Hair brushes and combs
  • Extra bobby pins and elastics
  • Hair spray
  • Hair nets
  • Any necessary hair accessories.

Miscellaneous Must-Haves

There are also a number of miscellaneous items that students will wish they had at a long competition. These include healthy snacks, plenty of water, disinfecting wipes, cellphone chargers, magazines, cameras and portable games. For parents, you may want to recommend they bring a comfortable chair to relax in during downtime, as well as a book to read and cash for souvenirs.

Show Some Support

Win or lose, your dancers will have a positive competition experience if parents are there to cheer them on. Parents may want to consider wearing matching T-shirts or creating signs for your team if the venue allows it. Most importantly, tell parents to bring their spirit and lots of positive energy!

Editor’s note: Readers have suggested some great additions to the list, including deodorant, clear nail polish for stopping runs in tights, hair gel, mousse, specifically remembering to list all the different shoes a dancer will need (tap, jazz etc.), extension cords, and charging cables for cell phones, and even a glue gun. Specifically for tap emergencies, you may also want to have a screwdriver and shoe polish.

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Tips on Choosing the Right Dance Studio Curriculum

Dance Studio Curriculum

When you’re in the process of opening a dance studio, there are many, many decisions to be made. While you think about names and locations, you’ll also need to take the general dance studio curriculum into consideration. Today, there are two main categories of dance classes – competition and recreational. It’s important to decide if your studio is going to cater to just one of these types or offer both options to dancers. It goes without saying that it’s a big decision! Here are some considerations to take into account when deciding what type of dance classes to hold in your new studio.

Recreational Dance

Studios that boast recreational programs often work with a wide variety of students. You can offer lots of different class genres and have different skill levels, but the bottom line is that your dancers aren’t pressured to perform competitively. Aspire Dance Academy noted that in its recreational dance program, students are guided toward their fitness goals in a more relaxed class atmosphere. At the end of each season, recreational students usually perform in a recital to show off their skills to family and friends.

Competition Teams

The major difference with competitive dance is that there’s a greater financial and time commitment, both for students and the studio. In addition to offering a set number of competition classes each week, you’ll have to take into account the costs of entering, preparing for and traveling to competitions with your dancers. However, the opportunity to perform in front of new audiences and compete around the country is often appealing to many students. If you’re on the fence about offering competitive dance at your studio, it can often be helpful to talk to other studio owners for a first-hand account of the pros and cons.

Consider Your Target Market

As with any big decision when it comes to your studio, you need to take your target market into account. Think about the students who you believe will attend your studio. If they’re dedicated athletes, chances are there will be lots of interest in a competition program. On the other hand, if you’re catering to mostly preschoolers, it may be best to start off with just recreational classes. You should also take into account the other dance schools in your area and the classes they offer – if there are lots of recreational studios, but no competition programs, competitive dance could very well be a profitable niche.

The more information you can gather about the needs of your community, the better informed you will be when it comes to making decisions about your studio’s curriculum. If you really aren’t sure about what types of classes potential students would be interested in, it would probably be beneficial to do a little bit of research, either by surveying local students or simply talking to parents in the community.

Quality Across the Board

No matter which path you choose for your studio, it’s important to realize that you should focus on providing the best quality instruction possible. The Dance Exec blog noted that sometimes the dance industry views recreational classes as less technical and informative than competitive classes. However, if you want to run a competitive business, it’s important that all your courses offer the same high-quality instruction. A good measure of if your recreational classes are up to snuff with your competitive offerings is if groups of dancers with similar skill levels can perform together harmoniously at an end-of-season recital.

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Dance Competition Makeup Tips

Dance Competition Makeup Tips

The finishing touch on top of an awesome competition costume is flawless makeup. Your dancers’ cosmetics can truly really make or break their whole look, so it’s important that you put adequate time and effort into planning and executing their makeup. Whether you’re a newcomer to the competition circuit or just want a refresher on best practices, here are several dance competition makeup tips and tricks that will help bring out your inner makeup artist.

“Skin should be hydrated when applying makeup.”

Start with a Clean Canvas

Your students’ makeup needs to last all day, so you’ll want to do everything possible to make sure it’s applied correctly. Instruct your dancers to wash their faces in the morning and apply a light moisturizer. For best results, skin should be hydrated, but not oily, when applying makeup. Use a quality primer under foundation to ensure maximum staying power, and opt for water-resistant products whenever possible.

Know How to Highlight

Once each dancer has applied foundation that matches his or her unique skin tone, you can make the look more stage-ready by applying highlights. Shimmery powder can really add dimension to your dancers’ faces, so gently sweep a light shade on top of their cheekbones. Be sure to finish off the look with a translucent powder that will help the makeup stay.

Another area where it’s important to apply highlights is around the eyes. Sweep a neutral eyeshadow, such as champagne or ivory, under your dancers’ brows to help define the shape. You can also dab a glittery powder in the corners of their eyes to really help them sparkle. These understated touches will give your dancers’ overall look a bit of extra flair and elegance.

Eyeliner is an essential piece of dance competition makeup.
Eyeliner is an essential piece of dance competition makeup.

Don’t Skimp on Liner

It’s probably fair to say that any dance makeup look should include eyeliner and lip liner. These two tools are invaluable when it comes to clean, defined and long-lasting cosmetics. Pick a waterproof gel eyeliner to outline your dancers’ eyes – this will ensure you get clean lines that don’t rub off when they sweat. You may want to bring along an index card to help touch up any smudged cat-eyes before your dancers hit the stage.

When it comes to bold lips, you’ll definitely need to use lip liner. Use a product that’s one shade darker than the lipstick, and make sure to have a sharpener on hand. Define each dancers’ cupid’s bow and the sides of her lips before applying all-over lip color.

False Lashes: A Necessary Evil

If there’s one beauty product that’s a pain in the butt, it’s fake eyelashes. However, most dance professionals agree that false lashes are necessary for big performances, as they make dancers’ eyes look bigger and more prominent. You’ll find many tips and tricks on how to apply falsies, but the best way to get faux lashes on perfectly is simply to practice. Be generous when applying glue, so there aren’t any eyelash malfunctions mid-performance, and don’t be afraid to apply a few coats of mascara over the lashes to separate and define them.

A bold cosmetic look is eye-catching, but also risky.
A bold cosmetic look is eye-catching, but also tricky to perfect.

Tips for Wild Cosmetics

If your competition team is performing a particularly creative piece, you may decide to go with bold, eccentric makeup. Use the following dance competition makeup tips to ensure that you can pull off wild stage cosmetics on the big day.

  • You probably saw this one coming, but practice, practice, practice!
  • Don’t sweat the little details. Chances are that the judges won’t even notice if a line isn’t perfect.
  • If you’re planning a complex design, be sure you have quality tools – brushes, sponges, cotton swabs – and products that will minimize mistakes.
  • Start with a light application of makeup. It’s better if you need to add more than to mess up and have to start over.
  • Set the finished look with a layer of powder, and remind your students not to rub their faces!
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Take a Crash Course on Musicality in Dance

What skills set a dancer apart from the pack? Most studio owners and dance teachers might say technique, dedication, passion or stage presence. While these are all essential for pre-professional dancers, the best students also have a certain “je ne sais quoi” when it comes to music. This intangible quality is often referred to as musicality, and it is essential for dancers who want to take their performances to the next level. Here’s what instructors need to know about musicality in dance and how they can help dancers connect with the music.

Musicality Defined

If you ask professional dancers and choreographers to define musicality, you’d probably get a host of different answers. Some people might explain it simply as an understanding of music. Others may say that it’s letting the music guide your movements. Industry professionals know musicality when they see it, but still might have trouble putting the characteristic into words.

“Musicality is understanding music on a technical level and then dropping all of that knowledge so you can sit deep inside the music,” Wade Robson, choreographer and “So You Think You Can Dance” regular, explained to Dance Spirit magazine. “It’s dancing inside the music, as opposed to floating on top of it.”

Because musicality is a rather vague, intangible concept, there’s not one strict definition of this quality. However, most everyone agrees that musicality in dance sets professional dancers apart from amateurs. The question then becomes whether this innate understanding of music can be taught or if dancers just have to have it.

Introducing the Concept

As your dancers progress to more advanced classes, you’ll want to introduce them to the concept of musicality. Some students may already be able to connect with the music and they will likely understand the quality without too much explanation. However, dancers who are less musically inclined may have trouble melding the steps with the corresponding notes. Dance Spirit magazine explained that nonmusical dancers often show too much effort in their performances, but there are ways you can help them connect with the soundtrack.

Start teaching your students about musicality in dance by honing their ears. Individuals who have played instruments often catch on quicker than others, but the skill can be taught with dedication and practice. Have your dancers close their eyes and listen to the music. Ask them to think about the meaning of the song – even if it’s instrumental. Work together to plot out the different mood, tempo and phrase changes. It may also help to let them free dance to the piece so their bodies are guided by the music.

Honing Musical Intuition

Chances are that musicality won’t be perfected in one session. If your dancers are serious about furthering their skills, they’ll need to continue working on their musical intuition. You can help them practice by switching up your lessons once in a while and throwing them musical curve balls. Dance magazine suggested bringing in a live pianist for class or using different variations of the same song – orchestra arrangements, lyrical and instrumental versions all have slight differences that musically adept students will respond to.

“Orchestral music allows you to hear all the different colors of the instruments,” Finis Jhung, a ballet teacher in New York, told Dance magazine. “It gives you something to play with as an artist – it gives you more to hear.”

Given time, dedicated students will learn to apply musicality to their performances for a little extra pizzazz. Don’t let your dancers get discouraged if they struggle with the concept, as it’s hard to teach and even harder to learn.

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Dance Business Ideas: Small Improvements Make a Big Difference

Dance Business Ideas

You might not have the cash available to purchase new floors and mirrors for your dance studio, but there are other improvements you can make to your facilities that don’t cost quite as much. Even small changes here and there can go a long way toward bettering the space for dancers and their parents. Use these dance business ideas to make a notable difference in your studio’s efficiency and atmosphere without breaking the bank.

Organize the Front Office

Many studio owners focus their improvement efforts on the classrooms, but the front office can often use a little love. If you find that your desk is covered with messages, clipboards and stray papers, you could probably benefit from an updated organizational system. Not only will this help you to keep track of all your paperwork, it will translate into more efficient service for parents when it comes to paying bills, scheduling meetings and ordering merchandise. Invest in some filing cabinets, mail organizers and a studio management program, if you haven’t already.

Consider a Cleaning Service

If you regularly take time out of your schedule to clean your studio, you’re missing out on an opportunity to work on marketing, class planning or teacher scheduling. Dance studio owners are notoriously busy, so why not give yourself a break and hire a commercial cleaning service? This will ensure that every corner of your facilities is immaculate for your dancers and parents. A thorough weekly cleaning can go a long way toward maintaining a professional appearance. If you’re worried about the cost, United Contract Services noted that you can usually get a discount if you sign a year-long contract with a local cleaning company.

Bring in a Little Greenery

Did you know that there are a number of documented benefits of having plants in your workplace? Research has shown that a little bit of greenery can help boost the moods of employees and patrons, as well as improve air quality. Consider purchasing a few plants to brighten up your offices and the waiting rooms. Don’t worry if you have a “brown thumb” – there are plenty of plants that can survive with minimal attention. The Today Show recommended peace lilies and spider plants as two low-maintenance options to display indoors.

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Dance Fundraising: Tips and Tricks

Dance Fundraising

Whether you’re collecting money to attend a dance competition or pay for a studio field trip, dance fundraising can certainly be hit or miss. Some years you might exceed your goals, while others you end up losing money. If you plan to do some dance fundraising at your studio this year, use these tricks to optimize your earnings and reduce headaches along the way.

Be Open about the Process

It’s best to keep your dance fundraising efforts pretty transparent, especially when it comes to how the money will be used. Dance Teacher magazine noted that many times conflict will arise because parents or dancers think it’s unfair that certain people do the brunt of the work but everyone reaps the benefits. If you can be forthcoming about what the benefits of participating in the fundraiser will be and how the money will be delegated, you may be able to mitigate conflict.

“Be sure to do preplanning and have it all lined up as to how it’s going to work and how the money will be divided, before you approach the parents,” Mary Myers, director of The Dance Connection in Oklahoma, told Dance Teacher magazine.

More Hands Are Better

If you have four or five volunteers trying to run a dance fundraising event for a hundred people, chances are that everyone will be frustrated and overworked. The more people that help out with your cause, the easier the process will be. However, many studio owners don’t like to make participation mandatory. If you can find a way to incentivize students and parents to volunteer, chances are that you’ll be able to host a more impressive event. One option is to let students earn credits for each hour they help out, and let them put credits toward different rewards like discounts on dance attire or private practice time.

Don’t Rely on Traditional Methods

On a Dance Mom forum, a number of individuals noted that traditional fundraising techniques, such as hosting special parties, holding raffles and selling knickknacks, don’t collect enough money to offset the costs and time. Instead of falling back on your usual fundraising method that garners average results, think outside the box and come up with a fun and engaging strategy. Scholastic recommended holding a garage sale, staging a dance-off or running a funny contest. It’s also helpful if there’s a way for people to donate money online, so they’re not limited to the cash they have on-hand during your event.

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3 Tips on Purchasing Dance Studio Equipment

Dance Studio Equipment

If you’re planning to open your own studio and finally secured the place of your dreams, it’s time to start thinking about the equipment you need. Ideally, you should start this process at least six months before opening day. This will give you adequate time to find the best deals, purchase the high-quality products and get everything installed. Here are three tips on what dance studio equipment you need prior to opening.

1. Make A Realistic List

The first step when buying dance studio equipment is to plan out exactly what you need. DanceStudioOwner.com noted that the essential pieces are floor-length mirrors, adequate floor for dancing, barres and a stereo system. Mostly every studio needs these items, and they’ll likely make up the majority of your expenses. Many times you will be able to find quality products for a reduced price when a dance studio is closing, so stay tuned into dance forums and keep an ear about about closings in your area. Also, don’t forget that you’ll probably need to pay for installation, so budget accordingly.

Once you have these items accounted for, you can consider purchasing other equipment for your studio. Things like props, mats, exercise balls and chairs should be secondary considerations. If you have the money for extra products, that’s great, but don’t spend cash you don’t have. You can always pick up supplementary equipment once classes have started.

2. Choose Quality Over Quantity

When you’re first starting a studio, chances are that you’re working on a limited budget. However, you shouldn’t sacrifice the quality of dance studio equipment because you’re strapped for cash. Ballet Barres Online explained that versatility and durability are two characteristics that will pay for themselves when it comes to dance equipment. If you invest in high-quality floors, mirrors and barres, you’ll probably save money in the long run because they won’t break or wear out. Durable, well-made equipment is also safer for your students and instructors. Look for equipment that you can use for all your classes. Adjustable barres are often helpful if you teach both toddlers and teens.

3. Don’t Forget Gadgets

Dance related items are probably at the front of your mind, but don’t forget that there are certain electronics you’ll need to invest in. A computer, phone and printer are all essential to your studio’s office. You may also want to look into a studio management program to help streamline the business aspects of your school.

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Fun Holiday Warm-Up Music for Dance

Warm-Up Music for Dance

It’s the holiday season and your dancers are surely excited for winter break. No matter what their backgrounds, kids are always glad to spend time with family and friends and take a break from school! If you want a way to bring some of the seasonal spirit into your studio, check out our tips on fun holiday warm-up music for dance. Dancers will love to sing along to their favorite festive tunes while they stretch and practice the moves for the upcoming show.

However, the issue becomes playing songs that are both appropriate for students and, if yours is not a faith-based arts organization, nondenominational. The Street explained that focusing too much on religious music or decorations in any business can rub certain customers the wrong way and, in extreme cases, end up in court. Here are a few tips on how to keep your holiday cheer appropriate for all your dancers and their families.

Upbeat Songs From Pop Favorites

Many classic holiday tunes express religious sentiments, so they’re not the best choice to play in the studio. Instead, check out some holiday albums from contemporary artists for some holiday songs. These types of tracks usually have lyrics that are relatable to everyone, as well as an upbeat tempo that’s perfect as warm-up music for dance. Women’s Health magazine recommended the following songs to accompany a workout:

  • “Underneath the Tree” by Kelly Clarkson
  • “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey
  • “My Only Wish (This Year)” by Britney Spears
  • “Santa Tell Me” by Ariana Grande

Another option is to use instrumental tracks of songs like “Jingle Bells,” “Winter Wonderland” or “Deck the Halls.” However, be sure to respect the wishes of any parents or students if they ask you use different songs.

Don’t Forget about Licensing

It’s easy to get caught up in the holiday spirit, but don’t forget you need the proper licensing to play music in the classroom. You might have bought holiday songs through iTunes or another music site, but they’re not licensed for “public” use. Check the details of your blanket business license to see whether your favorite holiday tracks are included. If they’re not, you can always search through royalty free music databases for some comparable tunes. Either way, your dancers will appreciate the change of pace in the classroom, and everyone will get in the holiday spirit!

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3 Money-Saving Tips for Printing Your Dance Recital Program

Dance Recital Program

A dance recital program is a great keepsake for your students and their parents, but they can be time-consuming to create and expensive to print. If you sell ad space in your programs, you probably can cover your costs, but wouldn’t it be nice to have a little extra cash to put back into the studio? Use these tips to get high-quality programs printed for the lowest price possible.

1. Double- and Triple-Check

The year you’re not diligent about proof-reading will be the year that you end up with a major typo in the program. If you’re not careful, you could misspell a student’s name – or leave her out altogether – and face the costs of reprinting your programs. Make it part of the design process to double- and triple-check your text for errors. The more people that look over the piece, the better. Ask your instructors or a few trusted parents to proofread the program. You’ll be surprised at how many small mistakes a fresh pair of eyes will find.

2. Compare Prices Online

Even if you have a vendor that you trust, you should still shop around before picking a printer. Unique Venues explained that many online companies have extremely competitive prices and can turn around jobs more quickly than other vendors. If you’re concerned about the quality of work you’ll get from a company you haven’t used before, take advantage of free proofs. It might take a little extra time to get everything printed, but you can save some serious money when you compare prices.

3. Adjust the Specs

Making small adjustments to your programs is another efficient way to cut costs. The OmniPress blog noted that you can save up to 40 percent by changing the specs. Some less expensive options are using offset stock instead of glossy paper, designing pages without bleed area, consolidating pages or printing just the cover in color. You can also alter the size and shape of your program to fit your budget. Talk with your vendor about which types of changes will cut costs the most. Most of times you can adjust the specs of your dance recital program slightly and your customers won’t even notice. When you’re savvy in the design process, you can save quite a bit of cash on printing!

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Tiler Peck Stars in Little Dancer Musical

Few dancers are given the opportunity to bring an iconic piece of artwork to life, never mind when they’re just 25 years old. However, Tiler Peck, a principal dancer for the New York City Ballet, is doing just that as she stars in the new Little Dancer musical, which is based off the amazing 17th-century sculpture by Edgar Degas. The show, directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman, is playing at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts through Nov. 30, 2014.

‘Little Dancer Age Fourteen’

In 1878, Edgar Degas began his iconic wax sculpture, “Little Dancer Age Fourteen,” based on the young ballerina Marie van Goethem. Degas began painting dancers after becoming fascinated by the backstage life of the Paris Opera. His work culminated with a diminutive wax dancer who’s dressed in a tutu and slippers and adorned with real human hair.

Artnet Magazine explained that the piece was met with mixed reviews by Degas’s peers, as it was unprecedented to use non-art materials in sculpture. However, the statute and its model, the young Goethem, have inspired dancers and artists since, including Lynn Ahrens, the playwright behind the new musical.

“I began to see a story emerging about an artist who was beginning to go blind, who was frightened that he was losing his power to paint,” Ahrens explained to NPR. “Into his life, somehow, walks a little girl who inspires him in some way, because she is such an urchin, such a spirit and a stubborn soul, and he begins to sketch her and suddenly decides that he wants to sculpt.”

Ahrens shaped the Little Dancer musical into a show that explores Goethem’s relationship with Degas as it relates to the struggle of young women in Paris at the time. The young ballerina was born into poverty but worked hard to secure a spot with the Paris Ballet company.

Tiler Peck as Goethem

Tiler Peck was cast to play the young ballerina, opposite actor Boyd Gaines as Degas. According to the NYC Ballet, Peck has been dancing since she was 7. She joined the School of American Ballet at age 12 and became an apprentice with the company just four years later. Outside the Lincoln Center, Peck has also performed in “The Music Man” on Broadway, danced in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and starred in several major films. It’s an impressive resume for a dancer whose career has just begun.

According the Associated Press, Peck is just as dedicated to this musical as she has been to her previous projects. She’s visited the sculpture, which is located at the National Gallery of Art, a number of times to get in character.

“I want to make sure I get it as perfectly as possible and to be as true to the sculpture as I can,” Peck told the AP. “To be able to see exactly how her hands are clasped and what her hair looked like, where the ribbon was placed.”

Peck described the role as “emotionally exhausting,” as Goethem struggled to overcome many barriers before she made it as a ballerina. Looking at the dancer’s back story, it’s no wonder that Degas was inspired to immortalize her.

If you’re located in the District of Columbia or a nearby state, your dancers might enjoy the opportunity to see Peck bring the Little Dancer musical to life. If you can’t make the play, the National Gallery of Art is hosting an exhibition featuring the original statue and a number of related pieces through Jan. 11, 2015.

Images of Tiler Peck in the role of the Kennedy Center’s “Little Dancer” by Matthew Karas. Used with permission.

Image of sculpture “La Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans” by AgnosticPreachersKid is licensed under CC-BY-SA-4.0.

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