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Tag: inspiration

How to Make the Most of The UDMA Costume Shows

How to make the most of UDMA

Attending the United Dance Merchants Association’s (UDMA) yearly costume shows can be a beneficial and fun experience for any studio dance owner. You’ll have the opportunity to learn about new costume trends and get to see the latest styles in person. You’ll also be able to learn about a number of studio-related products and services that can help make our life easier.

UDMA even offers educational opportunities with renowned dance professionals on a variety of topics. If this is your first time attending a UDMA event, check out the tips below to make your first experience a success!

Come Prepared

When it comes to attending one of the large UDMA shows held each year, it’s important to be prepared. These events allow dance professionals to get insight on upcoming costume trends and do some groundwork for recitals and performances. The shows include information and vendors beyond costumes, too—be prepared so that you are ready to make the most of it!

  • Bring a big bag or, even better, a rolling suitcase. You’ll be happy you have it after receiving lots of catalogs, giveaways from vendors, and samples.
  • It’s important to dress smart. As you run around from vendor to vendor, you won’t have a lot of time to sit and take a break. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes to keep you on your feet. You don’t want to have to end your visit early because your feet are blistered and sore.
  • Bring cash for coffee, snacks and lunches. These events last the whole day, and if you’re enjoying yourself, you don’t want to have to go far to find food and drinks.
  • Print off a sheet of address label stickers with your name, studio name, address, phone and email. If you want to request more information from a company or enter one of the many giveaways offered by vendors you can simplify the entry process by using your stickers on the entry forms.

UDMA 2019

From the UDMA Website https://udma.org

Check Out the Seminars

During the three sessions this year, UDMA will be offering five seminars that dance teachers and studio owners can attend. This year, there are THREE business seminars (open to studio owners who may register their staff) and TWO movement seminars.

And the lineup of speakers is impressive! Steve Sirico of DanceTeacherWeb.com. Suzanne Blake Gerety of DanceStudioOwner.com, and the man himself, Rhee Gold will each present a business seminar in each city. Anthony LoCasico of Taplife and Tricia Gomez of Rhythm Works Integrative Dance will each present the movement seminars.

Note that the seminars require a separate registration from the vendor/costume show, as well as an additional fee. You can find more information here.

Come Visit Us at the TutuTix Booth!

This year, TutuTix will be visiting the various sessions of UDMA to talk costumes, recitals, and more. Look for our booth – it’s hard to miss (look for the sparkly pink shiny wall!)

We’ll even be hosting a surprise item giveaway: earlier this year we gave away iRobot Roomba’s to lucky guests! Stop by to pick up some goodies and sign up for our big giveaway.

Talk to People and Have Fun!

Before you get there, visit the UDMA website to find out what vendors will be attending your local event. Make a list of the booths that you’re really dying to see so you know where to go as soon as you arrive.

As you see dancers in the latest costumes, don’t be shy! Approach them and ask them to move around in their attire so you can better understand the look and feel of each costume.

Something to note: photography isn’t allowed at this event. So be sure to bring a notebook to help you jot down what you like to help you prepare for this year’s dance season.

Want to do some exploring? DanceInforma has some cool ideas for how to make the most out of your travel experience while at UDMA.

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Kindness at Competition Starts with Your Dance Team

competition kindness and dance team

Bullying seems so senseless and unnecessary. And yet, it still occurs in seemingly all environments. It happens at school, extracurricular activities, via social media, and, yes, even from members of the dance team at competitions. Social media outlets has removed accountability and personal connectivity from today’s youth, allowing them an impersonal way of criticizing and degrading others in a very passive manner.

I have heard stories of bullying occurring at dance competitions for the past few years. But, it wasn’t until recently that I actually observed negativity at an event.

Via social media, an older student from one studio’s dance team was blatantly criticizing much younger students from another studio. Using that message, the older student had other dancers joining in the conversation, and it felt so unnecessary and inappropriate.

What do you think made this student feel as though this was an okay choice?

Respect and Appreciation at Competition

As instructors, we have to instill values of respect in our students. These values should transcend the studio classroom and reach other studios, peers, and life endeavors. Our values become our lifestyle, and I would like to think that studios would never condone this kind of behavior.

Most competitions and conventions encourage appropriate behavior. I appreciate and applaud the steps they’ve taken to guarantee students are learning and growing in a nurturing, supportive environment. Studio owners, parents, instructors, students, and peers have to support and encourage that mission, too.

Ultimately, we are all in this together. And, personally, I know that I want every dance experience to be positive, meaningful, and productive for each and every one of our students.

Dance Spirit featured an article in 2011 entitled Beat Bullying, which discusses the issue from an in-studio perspective. It’s just as relevant to think about bullying in regards to outside events and encountering other studios.

At the end of the day, we have to lead by example. That way, we make sure our students are aware of their choices, actions, and consequences.  We are all working hard, striving to do our best, and encouraging our students to grow. Each individual is on his/her own dance journey, and we have to be respectful and supportive of each dancer’s work and achievement.

As J.K. Rowling said: “It is our choices…that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

Let’s make the choice to be kind. After all, we’re all in this together.

– Chasta

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Add a Little Magic with Dance Studio Mascots

dance studio mascots

Last year, we decided to adopt a “Studio Mascot” for our studio and competitive team. Since we were attending Nationals in New Orleans, we selected a fun-looking alligator, named her Louise, and dressed her in dance-like attire (yes, we actually went shopping for a stuffed alligator).

We introduced Louise to the studio with the following poem:

I am proud to say “Hi there,
my name is Louise.”
I am a pretty little dancer
from Stage Door, if you please.

I hail from a southern city.
You may know it as New Orleans,
A city with lots of culture
Known for its Mardi Gras scenes.

You may be thinking
You’ve seen me before in a bog
But you’re thinking of my brother
from Princess and the Frog

I was so busy dancing
While my brother played his trumpet
They wanted me in the movie,
But I had to dump it!

I love ballet, tap and jazz,
theatre, acro, and hip-hop!
I love every style of dance,
And I doubt I’ll ever stop!

I am thrilled to be a part
Of the family at Stage Door
I will be your mascot, your friend
and so much more!

I will travel to competitions
with the Stage Door Elite
I will cheer real loud,
and stamp my feet!

At the end of the season
In July of twenty thirteen,
My journey will continue at Nationals
down in New Orleans.

I’ll show you my stomping grounds
and we’ll have fun
Riding in swamp buggies
in the hot summer sun.

After the summer,
I might choose to stay
at the studio in Raleigh
to laugh, dance, sing, and play.

So let’s start this adventure
And become great friends
We’ll work hard, practice,
and be a team to the end!

Louise had such popularity that smaller mascots began popping up at competitions:

dance studio mascots

 

Our studio families and students LOVE Louise! The students enjoy seeing her at events, and they are always eager to sit beside her, hold her, and take pictures with her.

Louise even had a starring role in our Spring Recital:

 

dance studio mascots

 

So, how can you create dance studio mascots for your team/studio?

  • Select something that ties into the theme/mission/culture/events of your studio
  • Tailor the mascot’s presence to reflect your brand
  • Promote the dance studio mascots to your studio and students
  • Be imaginative! Creativity is what brings a mascot to life.
  • Have fun!

The mascot brought a great level of camaraderie to our team and studio last year, and we are excited to begin Louise’s adventures this year. Select your mascot, and join in on the fun! It will add a little magic to your season. 🙂

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The Power of Performance for Young Dancers

young dancers

I often hear the debate of what age is acceptable for a child to begin performing. I firmly believe that the earlier young dancers can start performing, the more comfortable, self-confident, and present they will become as performers and artists.

At my studio, I am completely comfortable putting a 3-year old student onstage for the annual performance (taking show times and performance length into consideration, of course). I first performed at 3-years old, and I remember absolutely loving the experience. When I am feeling nostalgic, I will find the VHS (and the VHS player) and watch the playback (anyone remember toast shiny tights?).

Younger students are so capable and uninhibited, and I think too many instructors (and, perhaps, even some parents) underestimate their power to learn. If you instill disciplined habits and work ethics in students at a young age, they will really excel in their training dance training.

Obviously, there are proper teaching methods and philosophies for younger students that are developmentally in-line with their physical and psychological maturation. These students should be nurtured, loved, and taught in a way that will allow them to develop a proper passion for the art.

And, performing at a younger age can mean many different things. Obviously, the expectation is not that a young, 3-year old will perform double pirouettes, extensions, and aerials. Rather, the accomplishment lies in the completion of the task.

Some of a young student’s accomplishments may be: standing on stage and not crying, forming the circle in the routine, knowing where to stand, remembering to smile, finishing a routine, or feeling proud of themselves for accomplishing a goal.

With each opportunity, the child will feel more comfortable and progressive in his/her capabilities and performance. The growth is truly rewarding for everyone involved in the process.

Getting Older Students to Start Performing

As a counter observation, for students that begin performing in their pre-teen/adolescence, it is more difficult to instill performance qualities since they lack the extent of early exposure to the stage and performing. As students age, they become concerned about others’ opinions of their projection, which usually translates to being more nervous, apprehensive, and tense when asked to perform and project onstage.

Of course, students’ projections can be fostered and improved, regardless of age, but, for students that are truly interested in performing, the younger a student can start acquiring the culture of the performance environment, the better. Then, the act of performing becomes second nature.

Certainly, younger students’ performance capabilities are dependent upon maturity, personal readiness, and level of interest. This philosophy is not a blanket standard; rather, it is something to consider for students that are young and ready for the performance experience. Do not write off opportunities simply because of a child’s age; rather, see how you can further ignite their passion and interest in dance.

You have the power to offer students opportunities to grow and blossom, regardless of age, and that is a tremendous gift and reward of being a dance educator. Let’s use it!

(This is a recital picture in the dance scrapbook I created in high school. This pic is from my second recital; I was 4 years old.)

 

(This pic is of one of my students. He has been performing on stage since he was 2 years old. Now 6, he absolutely loves the performance experience. We are fortunate to have many students at our studio that feel the same way. Words cannot begin describe the pride we feel towards our young, tenacious, passionate performers!)

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Dance is for Everyone

dance is for everyone

I truly believe dance is for everyone, and can move everyone in some capacity- as an observer, as a mover, or as a dancer. As dance educators, we have the opportunity to build programming that is accessible to everyone. Once students are a part of our programming, we have an obligation to serve them to the best of our ability.

When a studio culture transforms into statements of regularity such as “those kids aren’t good”, “he/she will never be an overall winner”, or “so-so refuses to dance with so-so”, it becomes a danger zone. It compromises our mission as educators to create a positive infrastructure that focuses on building the art of DANCE through technique, style, acceptance, and diversity.

As educators, we must take the lead. Our leadership is required to promote the accessibility of dance for everyone.

Our art is not elitist- it does not require Olympic level ability for success and impact. Rather, it requires time, patience, love, and nurturing.

Then, you create a dancer (in whatever capacity that may be), and you also build a relationship that will far outlast a student’s tenure at the dance studio. That’s impact.

That’s the importance of DANCE FOR EVERYONE.

ailey quote

 

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Why You Should Develop Good Habits in Dance (and in Life)!

develop good habits

Highly successful people choose to develop good habits and routines. They work consistently, with discipline, and do not allow excuses to overshadow their goals. It is rumored that a habit forms in 20-21 days; however, this Forbes’ article (a great read!) debunks the myth and elaborates on the formulating steps required to make an activity a way of life.

Examples of habits for our students may be:

  • More Stretching/Flexibility
  • Working Towards a Technical Goal
  • A Conditioning Plan
  • Time Management & Organization

Examples of habits for Instructors/Studio Owners may be:

  • Healthier Lifestyle Habits
  • Business/Work- Oriented Goals
  • Artistic Aspirations
  • Improved Time Management

Whatever you are working towards, commit to achieving the level of success that will positively impact your quality of life. It will make a difference!

habits

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Dance Recital Prep: It’s The Final Countdown

Dance Recital Prep: It's the Final Countdown

It’s biggest day of the year for your families. If your students are like mine, they are raring to go! And it’s easy to see why when you consider all of the hard work they have put in over the past year preparing for recitals:

  • 30+ weeks of lessons
  • 2-3 minutes of choreography for each dance
  • Costume measurements, fittings, exchanges and alterations
  • Group photos, recital tickets and t-shirts, flower orders and more!

In fact, for every minute of a dance that appears on stage, an average of 100 HOURS of preparation has already been put in before one sequin ever hits the stage. But before you sign off on your dance recital prep, I want you to put ONE MORE HOUR to make sure your recital day is GREAT.

Keep reading for 8 last-minute dance recital prep tips that will ensure you have the best recital day yet!


  1. Schedule a production meeting with your staff
    Communication is key to a successful show. Getting your staff together for a final round of show notes, last minute lineup changes and planning for prop transitions will help to avoid surprises during the show. This is also a great time to thank them for all of their hard work to remind them of the positive impact they will have on so many children on show day.
  2. Assign specific staff duties
    Make sure your team knows where every staff member should be and what they should be doing during pre-show, backstage, finale, dancer pick up and post-show clean up. Post these assignments backstage and provide printouts for each teacher.
  3. Create signage to dressing and audience areas
    Nothing makes parents more anxious on show day than not knowing where to go or feeling like they might arrive late. Help parents get their dancers to the appropriate pre-show gathering place by providing signage and friendly staff/crew members to personally guide the way.
  4. Prepare info-boards for each staff member
    Equip your team for success by giving them a clipboard for each show containing all all pertinent show information. Be sure to include all costume information for each class as new parents are likely ask ANY staff member for help, not just their own teacher.
  1. Identify quick changes or back-to-back numbers
    Notify back stage crew of any tight spots in show flow that may require changes backstage. Prepare the emcee ahead of time to plan on engaging the audience a little longer between numbers in the event you have back-to-back numbers for any dancers.
  2. Build a backstage entertainment kit
    Keep little ones busy while waiting for their turn including non-messy snacks, coloring books, movies and games. Parents will be more confident leaving their little ones in dressing rooms with your staff if they know they will be entertained while waiting for their turn to dance.
  3. Coordinate a backstage show for the little ones
    Giving the older students an opportunity to run dances before they hit the stage can double as entertainment for little ones waiting to dance. We call it the “backstage recital”!
  4. Equip your staff to be able to figure things out
    We have a saying at recital that says everything is “figure-out-able”. This means that my team has to ability to solve problems in all situations. Lost shoes? We can borrow from someone else? Costume left at home? We can put that dance later to give Dad time to run home? Communicate now that everything is “figure-out-able” if you work together.

Are you looking for some more recital tips and ideas? Check out these other articles and resources from Misty:

The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.

More Than Just Great Dancing

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Making the Most of Your Studio Dance Recital

Making the Most of Your Studio Dance Recital

Of the many hats studio owners wear, one of the most important ones is that of a marketer for our business. In fact, if you think of all of the ways you have marketed your studio over the past year you will probably be surprised to find out just how much time is spent promoting your studio to the next generation of dancers. When I reflected on my studio’s marketing initiatives over the course of this school year I came up with a long list including: printed brochures, postcards, Facebook ads, free trial classes, free dance days, community performances, camps, workshops, master classes, birthday parties, field trips, print ads in the local parenting magazine and various community partnerships.

But if you are only marketing to the public you are missing one of the most powerful marketing tools of all: re-selling to your existing client. Various studies report that it costs anywhere between five to seven times more to attract a new client than to re-sell an existing client. And there is no greater opportunity to re-sell the value of being a part of your studio to your families than the upcoming annual studio dance recital.

Make the most of your annual studio dance recital by adding these 5 Easy WOWs to make a great day-of experience for both dancers and attendees:


  1. Tell your story

    The recital is a great opportunity to tell your story either in a welcome letter at the beginning of your recital program book or laced throughout the show announcements.  For example, if one of your core values is being family-friendly, take time to highlight some of the ways a studio becomes like family. Ideas include having seniors share what it meant to them to grow up at the studio or including quotes from parents and students in your program book. If academic achievement is one of your core values, take time to highlight how your the discipline of dance is helping your students to achieve in the classroom.

  2. Go full service

    There are a lot of details that go into planning recital including rehearsal times, picture information, show details, costume instructions and hair/makeup directions. While it’s important to have all information on a master document, it’s even better to deliver JUST the necessary information so that parents, especially first time parents, don’t have to wade through hundreds of lines of information just  to find the few details that apply to them. Whether you present this info digitally or a hand out, parents will appreciate this concierge approach.

  3. Greet them at the door

    Nothing says “We’re happy you are here!” like actually having someone at the front door of rehearsal and recital actually greeting families in person. At rehearsals we have a rotating team of teachers greeting students at the door and showing them where to go. At recital, our teachers move from the greeter position to the backstage and dressing posts and I take the lead on greeting families. Every year I hear from families, especially new ones, how nice it is that the studio owner is accessible. Recital is likely the only time of year you will see every parent in one weekend so this is your chance to get personal and thank them for being part of your program.

  1. Double down on details

    Over the nineteen years I’ve had my studio I have found that more parents arrive at our rehearsals and shows each year with less preparation. We do our best to combat this trend on the front side with great information, but still we will have parents show up to rehearsal without the proper tights and costumes that need attention. We’ve turned this trend into an opportunity to serve families and provide some WOW with our “Emergency Table.” The emergency table is a place where we can solve most of the common problems of rehearsal and recital. We have a sewing machine, a steamer, extra tights, shoes and makeup. If it’s broken or they haven’t bought it yet, we can fix it. Our Emergency Table has saved a lot of tears over the years.

  2. Adopt the phrase: “Everything is figure-out-able”

    Even with the best of planning you are going to run into issues once the curtain goes up, so have your team adopt the mentality that “everything is figure-out-able!” Did a child forget their shoes? No problem, we can borrow a pair from another student. Missing headpiece? No worries, we can come up with a solution. Did something major happen backstage? No need to stop the show if you can calmly switch the order of a couple of dances. Issues and challenges that happen backstage should never become the audience’s worry. Just remember, “everything is figure-out-able”!

So give these a try! Make the most of a marketing opportunity that you already have and create an even better recital day for your dance families.

Are you looking for some more recital tips and ideas? Check out these other articles and resources from Misty:

The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.

More Than Just Great Dancing

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We Are Proud to Welcome The Dance Exec to TutuTix.com!

We Are Proud to Welcome The Dance Exec to TutuTix.com!

TutuTix is pleased to announce the addition of content from The Dance Exec into its content library. For several years, The Dance Exec (www.danceexec.com) has been an excellent source of training and knowledge for dance studio owners as they grow their business and strive to provide excellence in dance training. As Chasta Hamilton Calhoun, the founder of The Dance Exec, directs her focus to her thriving dance studios, the incredible studio owner resources that the site has offered through the years will find a new home as part of the TutuTix blog, which covers topics of interest to dance studio owners and teachers in particular, and the dance community in general. From time to time, Chasta will continue to contribute to the blog in her ongoing role as a studio owner (and TutuTix client!). The addition of these incredible resources is just one more way TutuTix can help dance studio owners build a successful business. Check out the first article from The Dance Exec archives today: 101 Marketing Ideas & Strategies for Dance Studios

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Three Ways to Evaluate Your Dance School Enrollment

Three Ways to Evaluate Your Dance School Enrollment

As I travel the country talking to studio owners the question I hear exchanged more often than any other is some version of: “How big is your studio?” I understand the motivation behind the question and have asked it several times myself. I believe the enrollment size questions are motivated by a few things:

  1. We are all just trying to figure out how our studio measures up with the rest of the world.
  2. “Am I big?” “Am I small?” “Am I normal?” We really just want to know that we are doing okay.
  3. We want to find other people like us. It makes sense that I might face the same challenges and benefit from the same solution as a studio of a similar size.

But the number of students you enroll is far from a complete picture of your actually enrollment.

If you are looking for a more complete picture of your enrollment, keep reading for 3 Ways to Measure Your Dance School Enrollment:

Student count is the easiest measurement of enrollment. Simply stated: “How many students take classes at your studio each week?” But for a more accurate picture of enrollment consider tracking the following information:

Units

The term “units” refers to the total number of classes, or spaces in classes, that are filled each week. Here’s a little story problem to help you see the relationship between student count and units. Imagine that you have 200 students and your studio offers 50 classes per week. There are 10 spaces available in each class, which mean that you have 500 units of class for sale. If your 200 students each take one class, you would have an enrollment of 200 students taking 200 units of class. However, imagine that those same 200 students take an average of two classes per week. Now you have 200 students taking 400 units of class per week. Financially speaking that is a much healthier situation for a studio owner. Same number of students, but a completely different outcome for the owner.

Structure

The term “structure” refers to the shape of your enrollment. A “triangular enrollment,” with lots of little ones at the bottom that slowly tapers as kids get older and explore other activities, is normal and healthy. However, sometimes the structure of an enrollment can become a little more “rectangular.” This starts out as a good thing because it means more dancers are staying longer, but if you find yourself in a situation where you have as many older dancers as young dancers, it may be time to work on building your preschool program. If you don’t, you might end up with an “upside down” enrollment where you have more older/competitive than younger/recreational students and that is not a stable enrollment.

Stress Factor

And then there is “Stress Factor.” This is term I use to describe the relationship between enrollment and “workload.” For example, several studio owners of large studios have shared that they feel they are doing too much work for the end result. On the other hand, I know some studio owners with smaller enrollments who feel like what they earn and the work required are aligned. It’s important to remember that not all enrollment is created equal. Some programs are easier to manage than others. Some programs are very labor intensive. As you seek to grow enrollment, the value of the “Stress Factor” cannot be underestimated.

So where are you this year with your enrollment goals? Now is a good time to take a closer look at the relationship between Units, Structure and Stress Factor to make sure you are building a business that is in alignment with how you want to spend your time and energy.

 

Looking for more great dance studio enrollment tips? Check out

The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.

More Than Just Great Dancing

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Dance Competition Music: 4 Tips on Choosing the Right Songs

dance competition music

With competition season, you’re probably in a whirlwind of costumes, choreography and cosmetics. Hopefully you’ve coordinated all these different aspects of your team’s performances to really impress the judges, but don’t overlook one of the most crucial aspects: the dance competition music.

Sure, you could go with a classic like “All that Jazz” or “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” but you might see some peoples’ eyes glaze over when they’ve already heard it three times that day. There are certainly a number of overused songs that you’ll hear at competitions – here’s a handy list from the Dance Exec – so spruce up your routines this year with unique, infectious music that will have the crowds on their feet.

1. Consider Age Appropriateness

If you’ve been competing for a number of years, you’ve likely seen a great dance team get cringes from the audience because their music crossed a certain line. While “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke is certainly catchy and has a fun beat, the lyrics aren’t something that parents want to see young dancers connecting with.

Always take the age of your performers into account when choosing music for their performances. It’s best to steer clear of songs with overly suggestive or mature themes – there are plenty of clean options to choose from!

2. Stay Away From Top-40 Songs

Top-40 songs are a go-to for many choreographers, but you can bet that hundreds of other studios have the same idea.

Stand out from the pack by choosing tunes that will make your performances unique!

Whether you choose an “oldie” or a track that hasn’t made it to the radio yet, you’ll be putting your team in position to give a one-of-a-kind performance.

3. Make Sure Everyone Loves It

You may love a certain ’60s rock ballad, but if your dancers aren’t keen on the music, their performance may fall a little flat. Work to find music that both you and your performers enjoy. After all, you’ll probably be hearing it 500 times or so before the competition, so it’s better if everyone likes the tune.

4. Look for Must-Haves

Once you’ve whittled down your choices to a handful of appropriate, under-utilized options, you can rule songs out by looking for certain must-have characteristics. Your song should be easy to cut down to the right length, and it also needs to have a strong beat and proper tempo.

You’ll also want to consider how the music fits into the genre your kids are performing in. When you take these aspects into account, you’ll be able to pick the perfect song!

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Dance Studio Teacher Staff Meetings That ROCK

Dance Studio Teacher Staff Meetings that ROCK

The school supply lists are posted at Target, the mailbox is filling up with registration paperwork for my children’s schools and Facebook is blowing up with pictures of kids in backpacks. It’s officially time for back-to-school and that means it’s time to get serious about back-to-dance!

As a studio owner, I’m a big fan of observing what the local schools do and taking my cues from their systems. For example, we do our registration for summer classes when the local school opens theirs. We offer parent teacher conferences just like the schools do and we follow their model for teacher training as well.

Most studio owners consider themselves to be in the business of training students, but the strongest studios I know understand that they are in the business of training teachers as well.

Here are 5 tips to step up your teacher training this year with Dance Studio Teacher Staff Meetings that ROCK:


  1. Timing is everything.
    Time is the most important commodity we have. Make your meetings few and powerful. I meet with my full time leadership team once every two weeks and the entire staff once each quarter. Our bi-weekly leadership meetings are about 1.5 hours in length and our quarterly all-staff meetings are three hours. Bi-weekly leadership meetings focus on weekly operational issues such as scheduling, weekend events, student concerns, ordering costumes, dress code, equipment and tracking classroom progress. Quarterly meetings are centered on important times in our dance season: back-to-school kickoff in August, recital planning in October, parent-teacher conferences and competition details in January and preparing for the two biggest events of the year—registration and recital—in April. Respecting people’s time and hitting the most important parts of the season are two keys to having successful staff meetings.
  2. Remember that there are three parts to every successful meeting.
    The most successful meetings we have address three areas:

    1. Informational
    2. Inspirational
    3. Instructional
Take our Back-to-Dance meeting for example. A big part of this meeting is informational in nature—reviewing schedule changes, turning in contracts and going over employment handbooks. But, the real purpose of this meeting is inspirational. Back-to-school is a time for your teachers to remember why they became teachers in the first place and to set new goals for the year. The last part of a successful meeting is instructional. The best teachers never stop learning, so take advantage of this time together to teach your team something new. It could be as simple as getting everyone in the studio to decide what preparation for pirouette is going to look like for all the classes at your studio, or it could be a short teaching on time management or customer service.
  1. Develop a theme for the year.
    Every year at my studio we have an overarching theme that helps us focus our activities. One year when we were in a high period of growth our theme was “Every Student, Every Class.” The idea was that even though we had become a larger studio we wanted every student in every class to feel the warmth of personal and  positive attention. This year our theme is “Energize Enrollment” because we have set some ambitious enrollment goals for the upcoming season. At each of our meetings we talk about how we are measuring up against the theme that we have prioritized for the year.
  1. Celebrate what you want to elevate.
    Staff meetings are a great time to “lift up” what you want to “build up.” For example, one of our core values is service so I give shout outs at our meetings to staff members who have recently gone the extra mile for their colleagues or our clients. If dress code is something that is important to you, give some public praise to a teacher who exemplifies that. We even have an old-fashioned star chart to measure teacher progress just like you might see in a Kindergarten classroom. Our teachers are broken into teams and the teams can earn stars over the course of the year for things like being in dress code, attending meetings, turning their music in on time, helping colleagues by subbing, etc. Our teachers love it and get silly-competitive over earning stars because they know prizes will be handed out at the next meeting for the leaders.
  2. Bring the fun!
    Most people equate the word meetings with the word boring, so find ways to break it up with some fun.We once kicked off a meeting by tossing a ball from person to person asking them to share one thing we would never guess about them. Who knew I had one staff member whose mom is Australian and another who rides a Harley?! We have also broken it up by giving out dollar-store type prizes for our star chart winners and tossing out small candy bars for those who could answer pop questions about schedule or policies. When the meeting is about recital, we bring food to keep them fueled during the planning process. The idea is to make doing what you NEED to do something that they WANT to do.

How about you? What do you do to make your staff meetings worthwhile for teachers and owners alike? Leave your ideas in the comments below. Have a great season kick-off everyone!

Looking for more inspiration?  Sign up for the Misty Minute for weekly ideas to transform your studio and your life. 

The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.

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First Impressions Still Matter

First Impressions Still Matter

In business we call it “first impressions.” Psychologists call it “thin slicing.” Regardless of what you call it, career experts say it takes just three seconds for someone to determine whether they like you and want to do business with you.

According to BusinessInsider.com (2015), you have even less time to make a good first impression. Research from Princeton, Loyola Marymount University and the University of Liverpool demonstrates that judgments people make regarding your trustworthiness, intelligence and competence as a business leader are based on first impressions—sometimes in as little as one-tenth of a second.

One-tenth of a second?

If you don’t think this is true, just measure your own reactions next time you walk into someone else’s business for the first time. If a friend recommends a new restaurant but it has a funny smell when I walk in the door, I immediately begin to question my decision to eat there. Once, when I was driving on vacation I stopped to check availability at a hotel, but walked out before I could get the answer—based on my first impression.

The situation doesn’t have to be extreme to leave a bad impression. Have you ever taken your children to another activity outside of dance and found yourself fighting the urge to jump in and help the coach manage the children? Or have you ever wanted to straighten up someone else’s lobby? That’s why the saying, “First impressions make lasting impressions” is true.

Keep reading to learn what first impressions you may be giving your dance families without even realizing it.


Indeed the very first impression we make on a potential or new client sets a powerful tone for the rest of the relationship. Think about all of the different layers of first impressions someone has with your business before the first class:

It might start with a referral from a friend, or overhearing an opinion from another community member at the pool or the PTA. This will be followed up with a Google search for your business or a scroll through your social media. You may not be able to control what people say at the pool or the PTA, but once a prospective client visits you online, you are in control of the first impressions and client experience. Will your potential customer find an easy-to-navigate and up-to-date mobile site, or will they be forced to stretch and scroll for days in order to find basic information? Can they register online, or will they have to leave a voicemail and hope someone gets back to them? What will the first time mom find when she searches for you on social media? She’s mostly likely looking for children’s classes. Is that what she will see, or will she only see accolades for your advanced dancers?

It will take much less time for a prospective client to do all of the things above than it took for me to write the paragraph describing the process. That’s how fast business is moving now. The process a prospective client will got through will either be:

  1. Hear about you, look for you online or call, have a good first impression, inquire for more information, become a student.
  2. Hear about you, look for you online or call, have a negative first impression, look someplace else.

And, it can happen in minutes.

Let’s assume for a moment that you leave a positive first impression with the prospective client and they enroll in classes. You’ve won, right? Not so fast. Now begin the many layers of first impressions you will have on your new client for years to come.

First impressions don’t end after an initial introduction or enrollment of a new student. Not at all! This is where the real work begins. Think of all the “first time experiences” a student will go through with your studio.

  1. First class.
  2. First parent’s day.
  3. First costume.
  4. First picture day.
  5. First buying recital tickets experience.
  6. First rehearsal.
  7. First recital.

And, that’s just the first year. The “firsts” keep building the longer they remain clients.

  1. First placement for the next year’s classes.
  2. First audition for a team.
  3. First problem with a class.
  4. First disappointment with a placement.
  5. First conflict with school.
  6. First pair of pointe shoes.
  7. First solo.

Each of these interactions is an opportunity to make another new first impression. How do you handle problems at your studio as a leader? Do you lead with communication and a we-can-figure-this-out-together attitude? Do have an attitude of grace and service or are you quick to become defensive about policies and complaints?

As the old adage goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” I would add, “You never get to stop making first impressions.”

If first impressions matter so much, and for such a long time over the studio-client relationship, why don’t we do more to create more continuous positive first impressions as studio owners? The reasons are simple:

  1. Lack of understanding/awareness
  2. Lack of experience
  3. Lack of time
  4. Lack of resources
  5. You are simply too close to see it

Will you commit with me to make the 2016-17 school year a season of getting serious about the many layers of continuous first impressions we make on the students and families that we serve each week? It will not only help you to influence other’s perception of your business, but it also projects trustworthiness and inspires confidence in your abilities.

Putting continual effort into positive first impressions exudes friendliness, approachability and likeability to your clients and opens doors to opportunities in the community. Put first impressions first on your to-do list this year.

Looking for more inspiration?  Sign up for the Misty Minute for weekly ideas to transform your studio and your life. 


One Small Yes

Check out Misty’s new book, One Small Yes, available on AmazonThis book is a must read for studio owners that are looking for ways to balance the dance of work and life.

“Amazing! One Small Yes is such a great book on finding your calling in life and how to navigate and work through living out the calling. Must have for all entrepreneurs!!” – Kristen, Absolute Dance

“Loved One Small Yes by Misty Lown. Outstanding book for anyone, especially the small business owner or entrepreneur. An inspirational book which helps the reader face challenges and give them the courage to continue to move forward and face what lies ahead. Loved it!” – Melanie, Tonawanda Dance Arts

“Reading Misty’s book was like opening my inbox and finding a personal email written just for me. She took my thoughts and feelings about being a small business owner, put them down on paper, and then step by step carefully explained what was holding me back from achieving more in life. Now I have no excuses to moving closer to my Yes.” – Nancy, Studio B Dance


The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.

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Summer Dance Camps and More: Filling Hours at Your Studio

Summer Dance Camps and More: Filling Hours at Your Studio

To borrow a made up word by one of my favorite bloggers, Glennon Doyle Melton, Summer is a BRUTIFUL season at the dance studio.

BRUTIFUL? Yes. Beautiful + brutal = brutiful.

Summer at the dance studio is BEAUTIFUL for several reasons:

  1. It’s a break from the marathon of weekly classes.
  2. There is a more relaxed schedule with schools no longer in session.
  3. It’s warm and sunny in Wisconsin for a couple of days; I mean months.

But, summer at the dance studio is BRUTAL for other reasons:

  1. A break from classes means far less income to cover fixed expenses.
  2. It can be hard to balance studio and home now that school’s out.
  3. With only a few days of true summer to enjoy in Wisconsin, the last place I want to be is in the office.

If this sounds familiar to you, keep reading for 4 easy ways to fill your studio with summer dance camps and more and still carve out time for family.

  1. Community Camps
    Last year our Community Outreach Coordinator came up with an idea to offer an hour and a half long camp each month. At first I didn’t think that anyone would be interested in buying one lesson per month, but boy was I wrong!  We had almost 200 students participate in our monthly community camps over the course of the school year. The short camps were so popular that we decided to offer eight of them for our summer session and I am pleased to say that we have had OVER 200 sign up this time. The lesson here is two-fold: 1) Be willing to try new things. My old summer programming had gotten tired and this was the perfect way to freshen it up; 2) Parents really appreciate a low commitment way to try out dance as an activity.
  2. Private Lessons
    On the opposite end of the spectrum from the first-time student who appreciates community camps are the intermediate and advanced students who appreciate private lessons. While private lessons in and of themselves are not new, they way we package them is. Consider selling your lessons in a 10-pack for a discount or connecting them to content specific themes such as choreography, flexibility, core strength or turns. Content-focused lessons are more attractive to students than generic ones.
  3. Guest Artists
    Hosting guest artists has become a staple of summer programming at my studio over the past ten years. The visiting teachers allow us to fill camps and programs during the summer months when our own faculty is travelling as well as get access to fresh choreography for our students before the school year starts. If you haven’t hosted a guest artist before, start with something as simple as having an alumnus who is home for the summer guest teach some classes. If you are ready and able to do more, consider a source like Stage Door Connections to deliver ready-made workshops with professional dancers to your doorstep.
    1. Team Requirements
      About ten years ago we started requiring our team to participate in our annual Dance Camp in August. It was a great opportunity to kick off the year with technique classes and choreography. Soon we added a Stay Strong All Summer series of weekly classes to the roster in order to keep kids moving in the weeks between the spring recital in May and the big camp in August. This helped to keep both the teachers and the students active in the months of June and July.
    2. Family
      As our summer schedule grew at the studio, it became harder to carve out much needed time for family over the summer months. A few years ago, I decided to pull myself off the June schedule and spend some time driving across the country with my family for a reunion. I was nervous about how things would go while I was gone and even more worried about what families would think about my absence. But, then the most beautiful thing happened…the studio survived without my involvement for a few weeks and most of the families told me to have a great time on vacation. Win-win!

Friends, I want you to fill your studio with activity in the summer, but not at the expense of being able to take a break with your loved ones. So, fill those summer hours with community camps, private lessons, dance camp and team classes, but don’t forget to put your family on the schedule as well. You can always teach another class, but you never get a second chance to raise your kids.

Happy Summer, everyone!

Looking for more inspiration?  Sign up for the Misty Minute for weekly ideas to transform your studio and your life. 

The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.

Check out more articles on summer dance camps and other summer programming here.

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Dance Teacher Education: Strengthen Your Own Identity as a Dancer

dance teacher education

Teaching dance is a fulfilling career that allows you to share your passion with others. A dance teacher education can be a combination of performance, formal training, and other experiences with dance. After dancing their entire lives, some dancers decide to devote their time to teaching. However, dance teachers lead busy, hectic lives ruled by demanding schedules, and that means that it can be difficult to continue fitting in personal dance practice or finding the time to stay in shape as a dancer.

For some teachers, especially younger ones, this can be a cause of distress. When your life was previously defined by dance – and your identity defined as a dancer – what happens when you no longer have the time to commit to your own dance practice? Or when you realize that your flexibility is not as impressive as it use to be, or that you can’t turn quite as many pirouettes as you could before you started teaching? This change is even more noticeable in the summer months, when teachers typically have more downtime.

This is a natural shift that comes with the territory, but don’t let it get you down. There are still so many ways you can continue being a dancer while you’re also a dance teacher.

Scheduling ‘Self-Classes’

The best teachers are the ones who continue learning and growing through their own dance practice. But this is easier said than done. For example, the last thing you may want to do after a long and grueling class with distracted kids is lace up your shoes and hit the barre. However, taking the time to fit dancing into your life is key to strengthening your identity as a dancer, and not just a teacher.

Block out an hour of time before or after your class to devote to your own practice. You could also schedule time to practice in the studio on days you don’t teach or on the weekend. If you freelance as a dance teacher, ask the studio owner if they would mind if you used a classroom on your own time – most will be fine with this.

Treat this solo time as if it was an actual class you registered for. Stick to the same time each week, and pencil in your personal practice days on your calendar.

Great Teachers Keep Learning

You’ll find that making a conscious effort to continue developing as a dancer also makes you a better teacher – and a more attractive instructor to prospective students and their parents. In an article on The Dancing Grapevine, continual learning and development is one of the top qualities that dancers and parents look for when selecting a new teacher. The article described “green lights” for teachers as including if they “innovate or take on new dance challenges,” cross-train in other dance styles and train with other teachers often.

A large part of being an effective teacher is empathy – and by being a “student” of your own dance practice, you can relate better to your students.

Summer Study

If you find yourself lamenting lost skills during the slower summer months, don’t despair. In addition to scheduling your own practice time at the studio, there are many other ways you can stay in shape as a teacher.

Dance Information recommended taking time to regularly stretch at home, joining open classes in other dance styles or signing up for a summer intensive. Seek out workshops, seminars and conferences on dance in cities near you. You can also volunteer and perform with a local dance studio or company. Another option is cross-training – check out our article here.

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