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Tag: inspiration

5 Festive Holiday Themes for Dance Performances

themes for dance performances

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

1. A Christmas Carol

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

2. The Steadfast Tin Solider

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

3. White Christmas

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

4. The Hip Hop Nutcracker

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

5. A Winter Fairy Tale

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

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

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How to Prepare for a Dance Audition

Whether you’re auditioning for a high school dance team, studio competition team or a professional company, there’s no denying that auditions can be nerve-wracking. Chances are you’ll be jittery at the audition, but that doesn’t have to affect your performance! With the right attitude and plenty of preparation, you can channel your nervous energy into a powerhouse performance at audition time. Here are some tips on how to prepare for a dance audition.

Fine Tune Your Skills

Many studios and schools have auditions at the end of the season, but some wait until the beginning of the season, after summer break. Whether you’ve been on hiatus of not, make sure that your skills are up to snuff. It’s sometimes too easy to let dance and fitness slip your mind during a long break, and this can hurt your performance.

It may be helpful to videotape your audition piece, so that you can see for yourself the areas that need work. A basic video will do. Grab a smartphone, a volunteer, or a tripod (or even prop your phone up at a suitable height) and get a recording of your full routine from multiple angles so you can see what you may be missing. Work on any skills or techniques you’re not confident with or haven’t yet mastered.

Outside of rehearsal, use our tips to stay in shape during a break to balance fun with training. You don’t have to hit the gym every single day, but try to make healthier food choices and fit in some exercise. This will help your stamina when it comes time for your audition.

What to Wear

Once your skills are where they need to be, you can start thinking about other details, like what to wear and bring to your audition. Tiler Peck, a ballerina with the NYC Ballet, offers some great tips in the video below.

As Peck explained, it’s important that you wear something you’re comfortable in and that will show off your body. Do some run-throughs of your audition piece in your chosen ensemble. After all, you don’t want to risk a wardrobe malfunction or have the judges unable to see your clean lines.

When you’re packing your dance bag for the big day, make sure to include anything listed on the audition info sheet, like paperwork or particular shoes. If you are supplying your own music, make sure you bring it in whatever form is required, plus some form of backup in case something goes wrong. You’ll also want to stash a few emergency supplies, such as extra hair elastics, a spare pair of tights, hairspray, bandages and knee pads. Anything that you would bring to a dance competition will probably help you out at an audition.

Attitude is Everything

Your mindset the day of the audition is crucial not only to performing well, but also to making a good impression on the judges or directors. If you’re jittery, standoffish or rude – even unintentionally – it may hurt your chances of making the team or company.

“Sometimes we don’t even realize what emotion we’re portraying in class,” Jacquelyn Long of the Houston Ballet corps de ballet explained to Dance Spirit magazine. “Take a step back to think not only about your technique, but about what message you’re projecting.”

With this in mind, remember to always keep a smile on your face, even if you’re freaking out on the inside. Be polite and friendly to the other dancers, as they could be your teammates soon. You should also be gracious and take any criticism with an open mind.

Keep smiling, regardless of what happens.
Keep smiling, regardless of what happens.

Tips to Stay Confident
Need a little confidence boost on the big day? Use one of these tactics to pump yourself up:

  • Arrive early so you can scope out the audition room and do a few calming stretches.
  • Put in your headphones and listen to your favorite music. Channel your nerves into adrenaline.
  • Clear your mind. It won’t do you any good to dwell on what might go wrong.
  • Think positive thoughts. Picture yourself as a member of the team or company.
  • Remind yourself that every audition is a learning opportunity. Even if you don’t make it, you’ll come away a better dance.
  • Focus on dancing! After all, it’s what you love to do, so don’t let jitters ruin that.
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How to Start a Special Needs Dance Program

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

The Benefits of Dance Classes

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

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

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

Considerations When Starting a Special Needs Dance Program

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

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

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

How to Spread the Word About Your Classes

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

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

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After the Audition Rejection Letter

audition rejection letter

One of the hardest lessons to learn as a dancer is how to handle rejection. It’s a part of everyone’s career, whether it comes early during competition team tryouts or later in life when you’re striving to go pro. Even Misty Copeland, a legendary ballerina who ended up becoming the first African American principal ballerina with the American Ballet Theatre, encountered rejection at some point along her path to greatness. In fact, her toils were highlighted in a viral video that was part of Under Armour’s “I will what I want” series.

The audition rejection letter read in the video is anything but sugar-coated. The school essentially told Copeland that she would probably never be a ballerina, and those harsh words are often enough to crush a young hopeful’s dreams.

So how do you shake off a bad audition rejection latter and get back on pointe? Here are some tips that will help you bounce back from even the most disappointing audition rejection letter.

Shake it Off

It’s hard not to take rejection personally, but Pointe Magazine recommended that dancers keep in mind that their art form is subjective. One director may not see your potential, but there’s probably someone out there that will – which is why you shouldn’t give up! However, you’re going to have to shake off your post-rejection slump if you want to further your career. Here are a few tips that will help you shake off the bad news:

  • Ask for Feedback: Make the most of an unpleasant experience. Ask what you could have done better and what areas you can improve in.
  • Banish Negative Thoughts: It’s easy to let unsavory thoughts creep into your mind after being rejected. “What if I’m a bad dancer? Should I just give up?” Get these thoughts out of your head. Instead, think about positive feedback you’ve received and your strengths as a dancer.
  • Do Something Fun: One of the easiest ways to perk yourself up when you’re in a slump is to do something you enjoy. Don’t rush right back into the studio – take a day and do something fun with your friends.
Channel your sadness into your dancing.

Take Your Next Steps

Once you’ve taken a few days to come to terms with the rejections, it’s important that you pick yourself up and take your next steps. Reevaluate your goals as a dancer: Do you want to try out for another dance team or company? Or should you just focus on improving your skills and auditioning again next year? Chances are that if you use the feedback you were given and dedicate yourself to improving problem areas, you have a good shot at being accepted in the future.

“Because we’re dealing with young adults, a great deal can change over the course of just six months,” Ethan Stiefel, dean of the dance program at University of North Carolina School of the Arts, explained to Pointe Magazine. “I would encourage a student who’s been rejected to work hard and re-audition the following year, because they may have made huge leaps and bounds.”

Work with your teacher or coach to create a plan to achieve your new goals, and then get to work! Rejection is only the end of your road if you let it be.

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

end of year party

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

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

1. Partner with a Local Venue

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

2. Hold a Parents vs. Students Game

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

3. Invite a Guest Speaker

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

4. Have a Pinterest Party

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

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

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5 Cost-Efficient Dance Studio Marketing Ideas for Summer

Chances are that, like most dance studios around the country, your cash flow drops during the summer. You may host dance camps and a few summer classes, but you won’t be as busy as you are during the school year. Just because your studio has hit its seasonal lull doesn’t mean you can’t continue to market your business and services. In fact, summer is the perfect time to hone in on some of your marketing tactics and see how you can revamp them for the seasons to come. Here are five dance studio marketing ideas for specific areas that you may want to focus on while you have a little extra time this summer.

1. Work on SEO

Search engine optimization best practices are always changing and evolving. The strategies that may have boosted your website in search last year may actually be hurting it this year. That’s why you should take time this summer to read up on SEO and how you can improve your studio’s site. Here are some of our SEO tips for beginners, but you may also want to look into mobile optimization, keyword strategies and best landing page structures.

2. Set Up a Referral Program

If you don’t have a student referral program, set one up this summer! The Dallas Chronicle explained that referrals are one of the most cost-efficient ways to bring in new students without shelling out a ton of money for advertisements. Think about what you could offer students who refer friends to your studio – discounted tuition? Free merchandise? Free recital tickets? Whatever you choose, just make sure that it’s valuable enough to be appealing to your dancers, but not so generous that you’ll wind up regretting it.

3. Create Testimonial Videos

You probably have some great videos stored on your phone or computer from seasons past, so why not put them to good use? Gather your videos together in one place and work to compile short films that you can display on your website. You may also want to see if a few of your long-time dancers are willing to sit down and talk about their experiences at your studio. A compelling testimonial video will likely perform well on your website and social media pages.

4. Work on Your Brand

Small businesses are always growing and evolving, and it’s essential that you keep your brand consistent across all forms of communication. If you haven’t had the time to upload your new logo onto your email newsletter or are still using outdated class prices on your website, take time this summer to update all these little inconsistencies. It may not seem like such a big deal, but potential customers are more apt to trust your business if they receive consistent messages about who you are and what you do.

5. Keep Up Your Newsletter

Your summertime marketing should ideally grab the attention of prospective students, but you also want to keep your current dancers engaged. That’s why it’s crucial to keep up your studio newsletter during the summer. Send out updates about what’s going on in the classroom during the warmer months, changes that you’ll be making for coming seasons, what other dancers are doing at summer intensives or even just tips on how dancers can stay in shape over break.

Don’t have a newsletter? Create one soon! There’s no excuse not to take advantage of this easy marketing strategy, as free platforms like MailChimp provide you with all the tools you need to put together a professional, polished email blast.

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Dance Registration That Rocks

Dance Registration That Rocks

It’s THAT time of year again! Yes, you know it….

ZERO time.

Zero time? Yes. That’s what I call the period after recital. In my world, it looks something like this:

  • From eating out every day at rehearsals to ZERO food in the fridge at home the next week.
  • From 800 students on the day of the last recital to ZERO students the next day.
  • From performance adrenaline to ZERO energy the morning after recital.
  • From hundreds of people telling you how great you are at the show to seemingly making ZERO people happy after fall placements come out.

It may feel like zero time to those of us in the trenches of dance studio ownership, but to quote YouTube sensation ‘Sweet Brown,’ “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

It’s dance registration time, people! So kick off the recital dust and “zero time” blues and get ready for 5 Tips for Dance Registration that Rocks:

  1. Amp the excitement with a new program. Last year I felt like our registration buzz was a little low, so we added Acro, Leaps & Turns and Modern to the roster. Every one of those classes was full with a waiting list in 9 MINUTES after online registration opened. While that was exciting, the real win for us was that the people who rushed to register for the new and exciting classes also registered for the standards like ballet, tap and jazz at the same time.
  2. Tie accepting a performance company placement to registration. At our studio we hold our auditions for performing groups the week after recital. Audition results go out at the same time as registration info. To accept a placement, a student must register for fall (and summer) classes. This is a great way to firm up involvement for fall, especially with teen students who may lose motivation for returning classes as the summer wears on.
  3. Race to Registration. Last year we launched a “Race to Registration” contest that was very successful. Here’s how the contest worked: At the end of each week of the contest we drew a name from those who had enrolled over the course of the week. The winner could choose from a $100 studio gift card, a studio jacket or a studio birthday party. To claim the prize, they would need to come with a parent to the studio and have their picture taken, which was then promoted on Facebook and Instagram, and ultimately shared by the winning family to their social circles. We ran this promotion for the four weeks leading up to fall classes and captured more than 50 additional students in the process.
  1. Make FB actually work for you. Gone are the days of counting on FB posts alone to drive action from your fan base. FB has changed its algorithm so that less than 10% of people who like your page will ever see a post from you. The new power of FB belongs to paid promotions to targeted audiences, boosted posts and getting people to share posts, which puts your message into the news feed of people who already know and love you. If FB advertising isn’t already in your budget, make room for it this year. Even a small budget of $5/day for a week on a specific call to action can make a big difference.
  2. Don’t let people fall through the cracks. Do you know what the least expensive way to get enrollment is? DON’T LOSE YOUR CURRENT STUDENTS! This should be obvious, but based on the number of calls I get from people wanting to know how to attract new students, it isn’t. My first piece of advice is to do whatever you can to get the current students to return. Do you have a system to measure who returns and who doesn’t? What do you do to reach out to previous students? No, they won’t all come back. Some move on, some age out and some just weren’t your cup of tea. Many, however, probably had a great experience and just have not gotten around to re-registering. If too much time passes after recital time they might figure it’s just too late. Don’t let people fall through the cracks. Even if they don’t re-register, they will appreciate the care you showed in reaching out to them and likely refer future families to your studio.

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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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Summer Dance Intensives: How Dancers Can Make the Most of Them

Summer dance intensives

If you run a pre-professional dance school, chances are that some of your budding ballerinas will soon be heading off to one of the many summer dance intensives. It’s an experience that’s often invaluable for dancers when it comes to honing skills, building influential relationships and becoming all-around better performers.

Before your students ship off to their summer dance intensives, give them some advice on how to make the most of their time.

Keep a Positive Attitude

Half the battle of having a good time at a summer intensive is keeping a positive attitude. If your students go into the program worried, wary or above it all, they probably won’t get as much from the experience.

Coach your dancers on how to keep an open mind when it comes to summer classes, meeting new people and taking constructive criticism. These skills will all come in handy when they enter the world of professional dance.

A positive attitude is essential during summer programs. A positive attitude is essential during summer programs.

Write It All Down

One way that dancers can retain everything they learn over the course of an intensive is to keep a journal. When they write down notes after each class, jot down tips and tricks shared by experts and document contact information of new friends, they’ll be able to refer back to their experiences later.

If you want to send your students off with a special journal, consider purchasing some inexpensive notebooks with your studio logo on the front! It’s a small gesture that will mean a lot to your dedicated dancers.

Don’t Only Focus on Skills

Yes, summer dance intensives are great places to learn new skills and techniques, but that’s not all these programs offer. Explain to your students that the relationships they make during the summer can serve them throughout their careers. Networking with instructors and other students is an important part of the intensive experience, so don’t neglect it!

Dance Spirit magazine offered some tips on how students can build and maintain friendships while they’re away from home.

When your dancers follow these tips, their first summer intensive experience will be especially great and they’ll be ready and willing to go back in years to come.

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College Dance: Helping Your Students Choose Their Next Step

college dance

You watched them don their first tutus, perfect those tricky steps and blossom into beautiful young dancers. Now, it’s time for them to spread their wings and leave your studio. It’s a bittersweet moment, isn’t it? However, there’s still one more thing you can help your students with. When dancers are considering how to best pursue a career in the arts, they’ll probably ask for your help choosing the right dance program. Pass on these nuggets of wisdom to your graduating performers to guide them down the path to success in a college dance program and elsewhere.

Dance Programs vs. Conservatories vs. Trainee Programs

One of the first steps in whittling down a dancer’s higher education options is to decide whether a conservatory is the right path. Dance Spirit magazine explained that at these intensive training programs, such as the one at Juilliard, dancers live and breathe the art. Students usually spend six to eight hours a day in dance classes, with a few other academic courses sprinkled in.

Tiffany can der Merwe, a teacher at the Ann Lacy School of American Dance and Arts Management at Oklahoma City University, explained to Dance magazine that students who enter conservatories are usually 100 percent certain that dance is what they want to do.

“There are programs where your commitment to dance is prime,” Merwe told the magazine. “Then there are other programs where you’ll be actively challenged in dance, but at the same time you’ll have to be excellent in your academics.”

This other common option for aspiring dancers is usually attained through a dance program at a college or university. This path is a great choice for students who want to explore other academic programs while earning a fine arts degree. Some dance students even choose to double-major or take a minor in another area of interest.

It is also possible that a dancer has the drive and talent to forego conservatory or university-program training, and go directly into a professional company’s trainee program. There are many factors that determine a student’s suitability for this path, and it’s crucial to be realistic about a student’s potential, as well as whether they have the mental toughness and maturity to pursue such an opportunity, should it arise.

It’s worth mentioning that, every year, a free event is held in New York City called “Dancing through College and Beyond.” It’s designed for high school students, and it’s a chance for them to meet one on one with college dance educators, alumni, and students from all over the country. It’s an incredible opportunity to network with many different schools all in one place, learn about their programs, and even apply for scholarships! If your student can make it to NYC, it’s a unique way to see what dance programs might be right for them.

As a studio owner or instructor, your dancers may very well look to you for advice on which path is better for them. And the truth is that you likely have some great insight for these aspiring performers. Give your students your honest opinion on what you think they would be best suited for. However, be sure to emphasize that they should take their own goals and desires into account as well!

Audition Processes as Peepholes

Once your students have a rough idea of which higher education path they want to take, it’s time to make a list of contending schools. Some dancers may have their hearts set on the big-name dance schools, such as Juilliard, Skidmore or the Boston Conservatory. However, this process gets tricky when students are looking for a more general college dance program – after all, these are hundreds to choose from!

If you’re working with dancers to narrow down their program options, Dance Advantage suggested that you take a close look at each contending school’s audition process. The requirements for applicants can provide you with a glimpse into what the school expects from its students and what life will be like within the program.

For example, a university that requires an audition tape, personal essay and in-person performance is likely looking for highly skilled dancers who are serious about their craft. This means that accepted students will be in classes with similarly skilled peers and held to higher standards of achievement.

On the other hand, schools with lax admissions processes may have classes with mixed-level students and provide a less specialized education to dancers.

Personal Considerations

At the end of the day, your dancers should take the same considerations into account that normal college applicants would. Are they looking for small intimate classes? Do they need one-on-one instruction? Will they be able to pursue extracurriculars? How far from home are they willing to move?

These factors will all contribute to a college dance educational/training experience, so it’s important that they don’t get overlooked. Just because a university has an amazing college dance program, that doesn’t mean it’s the right school for every aspiring professional.

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Choreography Tips: Overcoming Choreographer’s Block

Choreography Tips

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

Find New Beats

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

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

Get a Fresh Pair of Eyes

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

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

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

Clear Your Mind

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

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

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

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Running a Dance Studio: 4 Ways to Stay Ahead of Nearby Studios

Running A Dance Studio

Many studio owners have experienced the following situation: Your school is doing great. Enrollment is through the roof, and just when you think it’s smooth sailing for the next few seasons, you see the sign. A new studio is opening up right down the street, and even worse, they’re offering the same classes! All of a sudden your prospective students have another viable option to choose from, so how do you ensure that your school continues to thrive? In the world of running a dance studio, studios need to stay vigilant if they want to succeed in a sometimes crowded field. Here are four steps that will help you keep your school’s doors open, regardless of how saturated your market becomes.

1. Stay Focused on Your Studio

Your first instinct when you find out there’s a competitor opening nearby is to shift your attention to learning everything you can about the new business. After all, it’s upsetting when someone thinks they can one-up your studio! However, you shouldn’t obsess about this new establishment. Instead you should start obsessing about your own.

“There are always going to be people who think they can do it better than you, and maybe some people actually will do it better than you,” Kathy Blake, owner of Kathy Blake Dance Studios, explained on DanceStudioOwner.com. “But what this is all about is you have to be your own voice; you have to find your own culture.”

Blake explained that studio owners need to stay focused if they want to get ahead of the competition. If you’ve been slacking on marketing or facility upkeep, use this as the kick in the pants you need. Crunch some numbers – what’s the return on investment for your different marketing strategies? What’s your customer acquisition cost? Focus on the nitty gritty aspects of running a dance studio, and you’ll be equipped to compete in a saturated market.

2. Find Your Sweet Spot

If your new neighbor is offering the same classes as you, it’s essential to figure out what makes your studio unique. Maybe, like Blake mentioned, it’s your school’s culture and atmosphere. Or perhaps you have more experienced teachers. Sit down and think hard about what your niche is and why it makes your school a great place for dancers to learn.

Coming up short? If you’re floundering to find your differentiating factor, you may want to consider revisiting your business plan. Your previous success may have been based on your lack of competition, but now that there’s a new sheriff in town, you need to reevaluate your business model and figure out what you can do to make your studio competitive.

3. Differentiate Your Marketing

Once you’ve figured out exactly what it is that makes your studio unique, take that aspect and run with it. You’ll need to thoroughly differentiate your marketing from your competitors to ensure that potential students know exactly why your school is the place to dance. Revamp your website and social media sites. Update your fliers with a new emphasis on your sweet spot. Design new ads and do research into effective marketing tactics you may be neglecting. Your goal should be to reach students in new ways and convince them that your school is the best option in town.

4. Take Care of Your Existing Students

In the midst of all this marketing mayhem, it’s easy to overlook the needs of your current clientele. However, Marketing Donut explained that if you want to stay ahead of the competition, you’d do well to cater to your patrons like never before. Improve your customer service, orchestrate an amazing recital or poll your dancers to see what changes they’d like made. Paying ample attention to your existing students will ensure that they re-enroll for next season and that you’re not losing business to your competitors.

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5 Benefits of Practicing Dance Improvisation

Dance improvisation

Most dance classes are filled with structured lessons about different skills, techniques, tricks and combinations. After all, these are the aspects that make up a great performance. However, you may want to consider incorporating a little bit of dance improvisation into your classes – even if your students balk when you mention it.

“Almost every student I’ve ever had has been terrified,” Chloe Arnold, director of DC Tap Fest and her company, Syncopated Ladies, told Dance Teacher magazine. “[Improvisation] is scary, but once you give it a try, you realize it’s the best thing that ever happened.”

Here are five noteworthy benefits of taking a less-than-structured approach to dance class.

1. Boost Confidence

If your students are only comfortable in predetermined steps and combinations, they’ll likely be insecure when it comes to improvisation. However, pushing through this fear and letting their bodies guide them can often serve as a huge confidence-booster. Improv exercises can also help alleviate fears that your dancers may have about making mistakes. When they’re making up steps on the fly, there’s no “right” and “wrong.” Instead, it’s just about being confident and creative while having fun.

2. Encourage Self-Discovery

Sometimes stepping outside of their comfort zones can help students discover who they are as performers. It’s impossible for dancers to grow if they’re constantly held inside a box, so encourage your performers to spread their wings. Maybe a few improvisation sessions will inspire your students to take up choreography or pursue a few classes in modern dance. When students aren’t solely focused on learning your steps, their minds will be open to all the possibilities that dance offers them.

3. Improve Musicality

It can be hard to teach dancers about musicality, as the skill is multi-faceted and complicated to explain. However, when words are failing you, sometimes a little improvisation can help demonstrate what this quality is all about. Incorporate free-style dance into your lessons about musicality. Have your dancers feel the music and let it guide their steps. It may seem awkward at first, but encourage your students to take it seriously – no giggling – and soon they’ll understand what you mean about connecting their movements with the music.

4. Aid Performance Recovery

There are times in every performer’s career when she misses a step or falls during a trick. These moments are embarrassing for any level of dancer, but what sets the pros apart from the beginners is how they recover. Many times young performers will freeze after making a mistake. The Dance In Progress blog explained that working on improv can often help dancers recover from mid-performance mishaps more quickly. When they’re used to going with the flow, they’ll be able to turn a trip into a graceful turn, then get right back into performance. Many times, the audience won’t even notice the misstep if the dancer recovers fluidly.

5. Inspire Choreography

Choreographer’s block is all too real, and sometimes you might find that your recital pieces are a bit lackluster. When this happens, you may be able to break free of your inspiration rut with a fun, free-flowing inprov session. Let your dancers have a free eight count in spots where you can’t find appropriate steps, and see what they come up with. Your students may lend that bit of creativity and passion the piece was missing. For older students, you can even hold a light-hearted competition to see which dancer or team can come up with the best opening sequence.

As you can see, both dance teachers and students can benefit from incorporating improvisation into practice. It helps everyone to think outside the box and continue growing as performers.

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How To Improve Posture in Dance: 5 Ways

How to Improve Posture in Dance

Nothing ruins the beautiful lines of a ballerina than slumping shoulders. However, studies have shown that up to 40 percent of kids have poor posture, whether as a result of heavy backpacks, too much TV time or just a general disposition toward slouching. As you teach your young dancers, it’s essential that you work with them to maintain proper posture. Not only will this help them to appear graceful and elegant, but it will also mitigate their risk of back injury. Here are five suggestions on how to improve posture in dance.

1. Use a Visual

Many dancers need to see concepts demonstrated to fully understand them, which is why instructors are always dancing along with their students. The same principle holds true with learning proper posture.

“Most dancers learn visually, so they’ll try to mimic proper body position, but often they don’t understand the roots of where it’s coming from,” Chelsie Hightower, a performer on “Dancing with The Stars,” explained to Dance Spirit.

For this reason, it’s often helpful to show your students pictures or videos of proper posture. You may want to consider showing them an old recital video where a few dancers had really good posture and others were slouching. Another option is to use a TV episode, like one from “DWTS” or “Dance Moms,” where the dancers worked on posture.

2. Stretch it Out

One way to effectively and safely realign trouble areas is stretching. Search the Internet for corrective stretches, or use these ones suggested by Best Health magazine:

  • Chest and shoulder stretch: This activity is often helpful for dancers who slump forward. Have them lie on their backs with their arms stretched outward and elbows bent into a bench-press position. Instruct your dancers to squeeze their shoulder blades together without arching their backs. Hold the position for 10 seconds, and repeat 4 times.
  • Butt bridge: Another area of the body that can get misaligned is the hips. To help dancers strengthen their mid-section, ask them to lie on their backs with their knees bent and feet on the floor. Have them squeeze their butts and push their hips toward the ceiling. Hold this position for 10 seconds, and repeat four times.

3. Try Core Exercises

Exercises that strengthen the abdominal muscles can also help to improve posture. You may want to work a few Pilates exercises into your classes. These can be as simple as a few sets of crunches, but they can go a long way toward straightening out dancers’ lines.

4. Help from Props

On a Dance.net forum, some dance teachers explained that they work on posture during class by using props. A small ball or bean bag can serve as a physical reminder for dancers to keep their arms straight or shoulders back. Get creative with your use of props for a fun lesson that will work wonders for your slouchers.

5. Practice Makes Perfect

Unfortunately, your dancers will continue to struggle with their posture if they forget about it the minute the leave the studio. Holding yourself upright is a full-time job, and they’ll need to be conscious of their posture throughout the day if they want to improve their dance skills. Brainstorm ways that your students can remind themselves to sit up straight in class, stop slouching in front of the TV and relax those shoulders during meals. Maybe they can set a reminder on their phones or enlist a friend to monitor their position throughout the day.

If your dancers follow these five easy steps, they’ll be on their way toward more elegant lines, straighter arms and over-all better technique.

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How to Write a Dance Studio Mission Statement

As a small business owner, you should be doing all that you can to establish your studio’s brand. All the materials you create, whether they’re internal documents, marketing advertisements or informational brochures, should present a cohesive image of your studio. An important part of branding that can sometimes be overlooked is a dance studio mission statement.

Importance of Mission Statements

Do a little research into other educational institutions – schools, colleges or even gyms – in your area and you’ll likely find that they have mission statements that outline their purpose and tie together everything they stand for. Your studio could probably benefit from a similar maxim.

The Houston Small Business Chronicle explained that a mission statement is important not only to a business owner but also to the staff and customers. The mantra explains the primary purpose of the business and outlines the values the company strives to uphold. It can guide decision makers in important choices and help to draw new customers to the company.

How to Create a Mission Statement for a Dance Studio

Your mission statement doesn’t have to be long or complex. In fact, it should ideally be just one or two sentences. To start crafting your studio’s guiding statement, think of what sets your school apart from others. Do you place a heavy emphasis on teaching your students about healthy living outside the studio? Are a lot of your students training to become professional dancers? Or maybe you compete in the most prestigious competitions around the country? Try to work these defining aspects of your studio into your mission statement.

When you know what information you want to include, it’s time to draft the mantra. Dance Studio Life provided this example of a basic dance studio mission statement: “Our mission is to provide professional dance instruction and instill an appreciation for the art of dance in a safe, high-quality studio environment.”

A school that focuses on dance competitions might want to write something like: “At XYZ Studio, we work to provide our dancers with all the necessary resources to be their personal best and encourage students to test their skills by participating in highly selective competitions around the country.”

Once you’ve drafted the statement, put it away for a day or two. Then, reread it and make any changes that jump out to you. You may also want to ask your teachers or a few trusted parents for their thoughts. When you arrive at a final polished mantra, go ahead and include it on important documents, from marketing materials to class registration forms.

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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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