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Tag: let’s get technical

Ballet Terminology: A Primer

ballet terminology

For new dancers and their parents, ballet terminology can be a bit intimidating. Many of the names for moves and positions are in French – and there’s so many of them! If you or your child’s first dance class has your heads spinning, don’t stress any longer. Read on for a overview of the basic ballet moves in clear English. Don’t worry – you’ll be an expert soon!

The Basic Positions

The five basic positions form the foundation of ballet. They affect how dancers begin and end their leaps, spins, jumps – basically everything! First position is when a dancer stands with her heels touching and both feet turned away from each other – as close to horizontally as possible. For second position, the heels are placed about should-width apart, and the heels are still facing straight out to either side.

Things get a little different with the third, fourth and fifth positions. Third position is when one foot is placed in front of the other, with the midpoint or arch of the back foot touching the heel of the front foot. Fourth position is similar to third, but the front foot is moved forward so the feet are no longer touching at the heel and arch. And finally, fifth position is when the front foot is slid back so that the toes of the back foot touch the heel of the front foot.

It sounds confusing, but it’s easy to grasp after seeing the positions demonstrated a few times. Also, as the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre notes, third position is not very commonly used these days, since the heavy turnout of modern dancers makes it look confusing similar to fifth position.

Turnout

Turnout is not a move, but it is a basic concept essential to understanding ballet. Turnout is when the legs are rotated from the hips so that both the feet and knees are turned outward. It involves a high degree of flexibility and should be used to do nearly all ballet moves.

Developpé

Developpé is when the knee is raised up to the hips, followed by an extension of the leg so that it is held in the air. A dancer can developpé to hip-height, or if they have the requisite flexibility, extend they leg to reach above their head.

Jeté

Jeté means “throwing” or “thrown,” explained Ballet Hub, and is when a dancer leaps forward, leading with one leg, and then lands on the other leg. There are many variations of jetés, some small and quick, some big and dramatic.

Fouetté

Ever been mesmerized by a dancer spinning around and around like a top? What you’re seeing is a fouetté. This move is when the dancer does a pirouette with one leg raised out to the side.

Plié

Another essential ballet movement, a plié is when both knees are bent as a dancer lowers her hips. They can be done in various positions, frequently at the barre.

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Styles of Ballet: An Overview

Here's an overview of the major styles of ballet.

Ballet has a rich history that goes back hundreds of years and spans various continents and countries. As a result, the has undergone many modifications as dancers and teachers incorporated new styles of ballet and techniques into their practice.

Years of experimentation and artistic inspiration have established various ballet styles that each have special characteristics and trademarks. Here’s an overview of the major styles of ballet.

Classical Ballet

Classical ballet is the most well-known and popular style of ballet. Its origins go back to the Renaissance courts of Louis XIV, explained Les Grand Ballets, and still adheres to traditional ballet technique. Classical ballet emphasizes elegant, graceful lines, heavy turnout of the legs and fluid, smooth movements. Perhaps the most famous of all classical ballets is “Swan Lake.”

Romantic Ballet

The Romantic ballet style prioritizes emotion, drama and strong story-telling. Romantic ballet is not just about the technical or athletic feats of movement that dancers can achieve, but how movement can be used to tell a compelling narrative and connect with the emotions of the audience. According to California Ballet:

“The basic subjects of the Romantic ballets came from the perceived conflicts between beauty and ugliness, good and evil, spirit and flesh realism and fantasy.”

Contemporary Ballet

Dance Magazine describes the contemporary ballet style as “anchored in the old, hungry for the new.” It’s all about experimentation and creativity, drawing freely from other dance styles like jazz and modern. The focus is not on narrative or telling a story, but on prompting the audience to think about the power of movement and what aesthetic the lines of the body can convey. As choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa told the magazine:

“With contemporary ballet, you turn the room. The audience is asked to look at what is happening between the dancers.”

Neoclassical Ballet

Neoclassical ballet is synonymous with the work of George Balanchine, an incredibly influential choreographer who created the Balanchine method, which is the most widely taught ballet method in the U.S. It is a 20th-century creation, Pittsburgh Dance Theatre explained, and emphasizes athleticism, speed and impressive technical feats. This style largely rejects elaborate costumes, sets or intricate stories to for a simpler design that places the focus on the dancers themselves. Neoclassical ballet pushes boundaries while still prioritizing technical skill and perfection.

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Ballet Methods: What Are They?

ballet methods

If you need to get a lively conversation going at a party full of dancers and dance teachers, ask them which ballet method they think is the best. Ballet methods are different teaching styles or schools of ballet that have developed around the world since ballet’s inception in the 15th century. Each method has unique characteristics that define it and special characteristics in the manner it’s taught to students.

Read on to learn about the main methods of ballet – and to make sure you can hold your own in that dinner party conversation.

Balanchine Method

The Balanchine method is also known as the American method. It was invented by George Balanchine, an esteemed choreographer who immigrated to the U.S. from Russia in the 1930s, Juliette Dupre of the blog Ballet Scoop explained. Together with Lincoln Kirstein, Balanchine opened the School of American Ballet in 1934.

Younger in age than the other main ballet methods, Balanchine’s style is full of energy and vitality. While Balanchine took initial inspiration from the traditional Russian method, he rejected classical stiffness for jazzy, athletic movements, breathtaking speed and dizzying height. Every movement is pointed, emphatic and performed with the utmost expression and force. As Dupre wrote:

“Even a simple port de corp devant was not to be considered a stretch but a fully artistic movement where the aesthetic of the body’s journey through space was the most important thing.”

Consequently, the Balanchine method is considered neoclassical ballet. The modern and fresh approach to movement in the Balanchine method is expressed in other aspects of ballet performance as well. It rejects flouncy and frilly costumes for clean leotards, and scrapped fancy sets for simple backgrounds so that the focus is on the dancers, Ballet In You explained.

The French School

Where the Balanchine method is modern, the French School goes back. Way back – to the courts of Louis XIV in the late 16th century. In 1713, the Ecole de Danse de l’Opera was opened and was the teaching grounds of some of ballet’s greatest masters, according to the American Ballet Theatre.

While the French school traces its influences back centuries, it came into its own under the leadership of Rudolf Nureyev, who was director of the Paris Opera Ballet in the 80s. The French School is a classical ballet style that emphasizes elegant lines, fluidity and graceful dancing along with technical precision. The French school’s true trademark is the petite batterie – a prime example of the method’s emphasis on quick, precise footwork, according to DanceSpirit magazine.

Cecchetti Method

Created by Italian Enrico Cecchetti, the Cecchetti method was invented as a way to teach ballet to new generations, ABT explained. Cecchitti meant business – his teaching method involves eight intense stages of training and includes strict repetition and routines.

The rigid and regimented teaching style is a result of Cecchetti’s scientific attitude toward ballet and the idea that jetes and arabesques don’t just involve one part of the body, but the body as a whole, according to Ballet In You. Technical skill is tantamount, and Cecchetti dancers must practice the same movements over and over again daily. The goal is that heavy repetition, dedicated focus and steady discipline will create dancers that can withstand – and thrive in the face of – the harsh demands of ballet.

English Style

The English Style is also known as the Royal Academy of Dance. It was pioneered in 1920 and is a blend of the French, Italian, Danish and Russian methods, explained Dance Informa magazine. The Royal Academy of Dance is also an international dance examination standard. For English-Style-dancers, the focus is on the details and getting each and every movement exactly, with an emphasis on perfecting the basics. Progress is ultimately slow for dancers taught in the RAD method, and it takes countless hours of practicing even the smallest movement to be able to move on to the next stage.

Russian School

“The most famous of all Russian styles is the Vaganova Method.”

Of course, no discussion of ballet methods would be complete without the Russians. This school was formed from a blend of influences. French dancer Jean-Baptiste Landé is credited as its creator, while ABT noted that Italian ballerina Virginia Zucchi had an incredible influence on the Russian School when she performed in St. Petersburg in the late 1800s, along with Enrico Cecchetti, who also spent some time in Russia. Other ballet masters also influenced the Russian Method, including the legendary Marius Petipa.

However, the most famous of all Russian styles is the Vaganova Method. It was developed by Agrippina Vaganova, a Russian ballet dancer with the Marinsky Ballet who retired early to devote her time to teaching, explained Dance Informa. Defining characteristics of the Vaganova method include precise, crisp and strong movements that are still artistic and expressive. The Vaganova method is one of the most popular methods used in Russia today.

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Ballet Terms for Beginners

ballet terms for beginners

It’s normal to feel a little overwhelmed going into your first ballet class. The plethora of poses and positions to learn might have your head spinning, especially since many of their names are in French. But with practice and time you’ll soon be fluent in the language of ballet. And it’s always helpful to have an easy guide with ballet terms for beginners.

To get you started with confidence, here’s an overview of some common terms first-time ballerinas will need to know:

The Five Basic Positions

Understanding the basic positions is a great place to start when beginning your practice, since they make up the building blocks of ballet. As BalletHub noted:

“The five basic positions are usually one of the first things taught in a beginner’s ballet class but are essential to the technique of classical ballet as practically every step begins and ends in one of the five basic positions.”

The basic positions concern the placement of the feet and are aptly named: first position, second position, third position, fourth position and fifth position.

First position: The heels are together with the toes of each foot pointed out toward either side, with legs straight and turned out, following the position of the feet.

Second position: Legs are straight and the feet are turned out to each side like in first position, but the difference is that the heels do not touch and are instead about hip-width apart.

Third position: This position is rarely used, since it can be mistaken for a sloppy first or fifth position, BalletHub noted, but it is still important to learn. Begin in first position, and then slide the heel of one foot so it lines up with the middle of the other foot, keeping both feet pointing out in opposite directions.

Fourth position: Stand with one foot about a foot’s length in front of your other foot. Each foot should be pointing in an opposite direction, and the toes of the back foot should line up with the heel of the front foot.

Fifth position: This position is the most difficult one. It’s like fourth position, but there is no gap between your feet. The toes of each foot should be directly in front of the heel of the other foot, and make sure your legs are turned out and straight.

positionsThe five basic positions are the building blocks of ballet.

Adagio

Adagio is a series of fluid and focused exercises that are performed slowly in order to improve dancers’ balance, strength and lines. It also refers to the opening sequence of a two-person dance that includes one partner lifting the other.

Allégro

Allégro means fast, brisk and energetic movements and is associated with jumps.

Arabesque

An arabesque is when the dancer stands on one leg with the other leg extended behind the body. The arms can be held in a variety of positions. Regardless, the goal of the arabesque is to create as smooth seamless a line as possible with the body, from the shoulders through the arms and down to the toes of the extended leg.

Barre

This is the wooden bar attached to the walls of the classroom, though some barres stand on their own. The dancer holds onto the barre for support, and a sequence of barre exercises is part of every ballet class.

Battement Tendu

This when the leg and foot are fluidly swept across the floor from one position to another. Typically, a “battement tendu” starts from first or fifth position, the leg is extended in the motion, and then it returns to the starting position. The leg should be straight and fully extended so that the foot only brushes the ground during the movement. BalletHub noted that many teachers refer to the move as just “tendu.”

Changements

When a dancer begins in fifth position, jumps up in place and then switches the position of their feet while in the air so that they land in fifth position with the opposite foot now in front.

En Pointe

“En pointe” is when you dance on the very tips of your toes. Pointe shoes, typically made of satin, are used to achieve this. Students begin dancing en pointe only after they have advanced to a higher skill level, Learntodance.com noted. However, on their way to dancing en pointe, students will practice moves and positions in demi-pointe, which is when a dancer stands on the balls of their feet.

Pas de Deux

Pas de deux means “a dance for two people,” and is sometimes shortened to “pas.”

Pirouette

A pirouette is a 360 degree spin made on one foot that is en pointe or demi-pointe, and is frequently begun from fourth position. The move requires strong core alignment and balance, and, as Balletdancersguide.com stated, “are the mastering ballet move which every dancer is undoubtedly always trying to figure out how to improve.”

Plié

Plié means “bent” or “bending,” and is when one or both knees are bent while legs and feet remain turned out, and are done in first, second, fourth and fifth positions. There are two main types of pliés, demi and grand, which George Mason University’s dance department defined as follows:

Demi: This is a small bend of the knees while heels are on the floor which creates a diamond shape.

Grand: A large bend of the knees during which heels are raised off the ground in a motion that mimics a “frog stretch.”

“There are two main types of pliés: demi and grand.”

Ronde de Jambe

Ronde de jambe means “round of the leg.” It is when the dancer rests on one leg and makes a circular movement with the other leg. It may be done “à terre,” which means the circle is made while the foot is touching the ground, or “en l’air,” which means the circle is made in the air.

Sauté

Sauté means “jump,” and is frequently used in combination with other moves to signify that they should be done with a jump, Learntodance.com explained. The source gave the example of sauté arabesque, which would mean to jump in the arabesque position.

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Promoting Your Studio With a Dance Class Groupon

dance class groupon

As a consumer, you’re probably a big fan of Groupon. After all, who doesn’t love getting 25, 50 or 75 percent off services from their favorite stores and restaurants? While this site is very popular with consumers – it boasts 70 million subscribers – Groupon isn’t always a win-win experience for business owners.

A study from Rice University showed that Groupon promotions aren’t always profitable. Of the 150 businesses surveyed, 66 percent said their promotion generated money. Despite more than half making money, just 42 percent said they would consider running a deal again. Keep these numbers in mind while you’re deciding whether to use the daily deal site.

If you’re considering offering a discount with a dance class Groupon, here are some pros and cons that you’ll want to weigh before clicking “OK.”

Pro: Groupon Helps Create Your Deal

No need to fret if you’re not a whiz with words. Groupon will not only help you pinpoint services that will sell effectively, but an associate will also give you a hand with the web copy. This comes in handy if you’re not so great at crafting compelling advertisements.

Pro: Bringing New Customers In

Getting new dancers in the door is always a good thing, especially if you’re the new studio on the block. If you choose to run a dance class Groupon deal, it’s safe to bet that you’ll see some new faces in the studio. People love discounts, so this is a good way to edge out some of the more established studios in your area and give your school a competitive edge.

Con: Having to Discount Your Services

While you’ll likely get some new students out of your Groupon promotion, you’re not going to make the same money as you do from regular dancers. No one is going to purchase your deal if you only discount 10 percent – the appeal of daily deal sites is that businesses offer services with steep discounts.

Because you’re only going to be making a portion of your usual revenue from Groupon deals, make sure you will still be bringing in enough money to pay your fixed expenses. Otherwise, you may be better off using traditional marketing tactics to bring in customers who’ll pay the full rate.

Con: Groupon Takes a Cut

After you discount your prices to attract customers, Groupon is going to take a portion of the money you make. The New York Times explained that Groupon usually takes 50 percent of the revenue, so if you sell $500 worth of classes, you’re only going to receive $250.

This can be problematic if you had to discount your prices a lot to begin with. If you offer your services for 40 percent off through your promotion, then Groupon takes half, you’ll end up with 30 percent of the money you would have made if the customers paid full price.

Pro: Getting Paid Immediately

However, one upside to the Groupon method is that you get paid right away. Even if the Groupon buyers never show up to redeem their classes, you’ll still get your money from the site.

Con: Attracting Bargain Seekers

Inc. magazine explained that another less-than-desirable outcome of Groupon is that it attracts people seeking deals. Many of the students who come in as a result of your promotion may only be looking to redeem their classes – not to sign up for more. As a studio, one of your long-term goals is likely to build a solid base of returning students, and if Groupon buyers are only interested in the bargain classes, they’re not going to contribute to this objective.

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Dance Photography Tips for Studio Owners

Dance Photography Tips

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

How to Get the Best Pictures

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

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

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

Choosing an Editing Program

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

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

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

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

How to Edit a Photograph Step-by-Step

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

1. Upload and Store Your Images

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

2. Pick Out Superior Snapshots

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

3. Crop and Straighten

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

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

4. Adjust the Levels

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

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

5. Save or Scrap Your Edits

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

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Dance Audition Tips: How to Put Together a Dance Audition Video

Dance Audition Tips: How to Make an Audition Video

When your advanced dancers apply to a summer intensive, conservatory or dance company, they’re probably going to come to you for help crafting an audition video. An increasing number of dance schools and troupes ask for videos from applicants to help them quickly assess skills, technique and overall fit. However, the process of putting together a professional and impressive audition video can be challenging if you don’t have much experience with technology. Here are some dance audition tips that will help students and their teachers to create impressive audition videos:

Pick an Appropriate Piece

The first big decision that dancers need to make is what they should perform for the video audition. Some institutions may detail what they’d like to see in the video. But, other times the choice will be left to the performer.

Advise your dancer to choose a piece that is appropriate for the school or company. Meaning, don’t perform a jazz piece when applying to a ballet school. It should also be a piece that showcases the dancer’s individual strengths and is a good representation of skill level.

Some experts recommend that dancers include a variety of clips to show off their range of skills.

“I have found that showing a variety of styles and clips that include strong acting along with the dancing make for a more interesting product,” Barry Kerollis, a former dancer with the Pacific Northwest Ballet, explained to Dance Informa. “You need to have some flash, but then you need to have the depth in technique and character to back it up.”

If your dancers have well-shot clips from past performances, it may be worthwhile to make a video compilation. If you choose to go this route, make sure you have access to professional editing software to stitch the clips together.

Carefully Select Your Attire and Backdrop

Once you’ve helped your dancer decide on the best piece to perform, it’s time to iron out the logistics of filming. Dance Advantage recommended that dancers chose a clean space that has a lot of natural light. A studio with a wall of windows may be one good option. Alternatively, you can bring in lighting equipment to make sure the video adequately captures your movements.

There should also be some thought put into the performer’s outfit. Dance magazine suggested that dancers wear form-fitting attire with minimal frills. Hair should be pulled back and neat. Make sure that the dancer stands out against the background. If she’s dancing in a room with black walls, a black leotard will make her blend into the background.

Find a Videographer and a Consultant

The person who ultimately films the video should ideally have experience behind a camera. Most dancers don’t hire professional videographers, but it’s a good idea to ask a video-savvy friend to film the performance. This will ensure that the clip is focused and steady – both of which make a big difference when the director or choreographer reviews the video.

Dance Advantage also recommended that a teacher or studio owner be present while the video is filmed. Videographers don’t always understand which aspects of a performance are most important, and a dance professional can serve as a type of consultant, pointing out what angles and shots would be best.

Formatting the Video

When stitching together the final video, use these tips to ensure it captures the attention of the viewers:

  • Keep the video as short as possible. Five minutes is a good length, especially for entry-level dancers.
  • Include text overlay at the beginning of the tape that details the dancer’s name, age, web address and contact information.
  • Put your strongest clips first, just in case the viewer stops watching halfway through.
  • Dance Informa noted that dancers should never digitally alter their appearances in videos, as this may be seen as deception.
  • Contact the school or company to see what final format they would like to receive the video in.
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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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How to Add Effective Calls-to-Action to Your Studio Website

The importance of a strong studio website can’t be overstated in today’s digital world. Potential dance students will likely check out your studio’s online presence before committing to classes, so you should do everything possible to make sure your site can effectively convert viewers. One important aspect of an effective studio website that often gets overlooked is the call-to-action.

This marketing tool, often referred to as a CTA, is a small but crucial part of your dance school’s webpages. If you’re uncertain about how to use CTAs, this guide will explain how to implement them onto your studio website.

Define Your Online Goals

Before you can create CTAs for your website, you’ll need to figure out your goals for the site. Your overarching objective is likely to generate new student leads, but you probably have supplementary goals as well.

Start by outlining how you would like prospective students to interact with the site. Once they reach your home page, it’s generally good if they view your “About” page and maybe then your class schedule. Then what do you want them to do? Fill out a contact form? Call the office? Send you an email? Figure out what your preferred method of communication is with leads and make a note of this.

Your website can also help to keep current students and parents engaged with your school. Think about what you’d like these visitors to do when they visit your site. Have you been trying to get more people to sign up for your newsletter? Or maybe you want to get more parents to connect with you on social media? These are both objectives that you can further with CTAs, so jot them down!

Determine Your Main Call-To-Action

Once you’ve outlined your goals, it’s time to put together your CTAs. HubSpot explained that effective CTAs are buttons or links that capture people’s attention and get them to take action. It’s best to keep the copy for your CTA under five words. That may seem like a tiny amount of text, but it’s easier than you might think. For example, if you determined that you want prospective students to call your studio so you can connect with them quickly, your CTA might be a button that says “Call today for more information!” It’s short, sweet and to the point.

Create Supplementary Calls-To-Action

You’ll also want to figure out a few effective CTAs for your supplementary website goals. If you’re aiming to connect with people on social media, your button might read “Like XYZ Studio on Facebook” or “Get daily updates on Twitter.” Similarly, you can encourage people to sign up for your newsletter with a CTA that reads “Register to receive email updates.” As you can see, these phrases are succinct, actionable and set clear goals for the viewer.

Add the Assets to Your Studio Website

Once you’ve figured out how your CTAs will read, it’s time to place them on your website. If you work with a graphic designer or developer, work together to design CTA buttons that will work with the aesthetic of your site. However, there are also many websites that offer free CTA templates, like these ones from HubSpot, so you can still have professional-looking features on your site if you curate it yourself.

When it comes to the actual placement of the buttons, Econsultancy explained that case studies have shown CTAs are more effective when they come after your product description. So you may want to place your main CTA at the bottom of your “About” page or toward the bottom of each class description.

As for the CTAs targeted at current students and parents, try to place them in areas of your site that these visitors are more likely to use. If you have a parent login page, this would be a great spot for a CTA promoting your newsletter or social media sites. Another strategic placement option would be alongside studio updates or on a ticket-purchasing page.

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5 Tips for Shooting Better Dance Studio Videos

Dance Studio Videos

A viral video can do wonders for any brand. However, even if you don’t film the next YouTube sensation, you should still be using clips of life at your dance studio to engage your social media followers and reel in new customers. Video Brewery estimated that website visitors are 64 percent more likely to purchase services or products after they watch a branded video, and many marketers tout video marketing as one of the best ways to engage viewers. That’s all great in theory, but the truth is that some people are all thumbs when it comes to filming videos. If you’re struggling to capture clips that reflect well on your studio and capture the interest of online viewers, use these five tips to produce better dance studio videos.

1. Quality is King

A video that is unfocused, pixelated and shaky isn’t going to be enjoyable for viewers to watch. You don’t need to have professional video equipment, but try your best to shoot high-quality clips. The latest generations of smartphones have impressive video capabilities, so be sure to focus the lens and frame your subject when capturing video. If you’re working with a camera, you may want to pick up an inexpensive tripod to help stabilize your shots.

Que Publishing noted that shooting the right size video can also make a big difference in your results. YouTube’s default size is 320 pixels wide and 240 pixels tall, so this should be your minimum constraint. Whenever possible, shoot clips horizontally so you’re filling up a viewer’s entire screen.

2. Aim for Short and Sweet

10-minute dance studio videos of rehearsal might be enjoyable for parents, but that’s probably the only people who will watch it. Video Brewery noted that you’ll quickly lose viewers after your videos hit the one-minute mark. Short, impactful videos are also shared more frequently. Try to cut your clips down and frame only the highlights for viewers. This will help deliver your message with a powerful punch.

3. Shoot Often

You’ve probably told your students that practice makes perfect, and the same holds true for your video skills. The more frequently you work with your recorder, the more comfortable you’ll become and the more great shots you’ll capture. Try to pick up your camera or phone at least once a day and shoot a few frames. You’ll quickly build up a library of great clips that showcase the best parts of your studio. These are valuable to have stored away if you ever decide to compile in-depth marketing videos.

4. Show, Don’t Tell

The best videos capture some sentiment or activity that wouldn’t be adequately explained in words or pictures. One Market Media explained that you shouldn’t use videos to simply dictate information to viewers. The content should be instrumental in giving people insight into your studio’s culture or services. Some good examples might be a particularly well-executed combination or a great client testimonial. However, be sure that testimonials aren’t overly scripted, or else they may come across as phony.

5. Be Sure to Share

The ways your promote your dance studio videos are as important as the quality and content of the film. Don’t expect people to find your YouTube account – instead, share videos on social media like Facebook and Twitter. If you create longer films, you may want to imbed them in your website’s landing pages to supplement your promotional material. When more people see your videos, they’ll be more likely to share with friends and family, thereby optimizing the impact of the clip. However, don’t forget to have students and their parents sign release waivers so you can use your videos for promotional purposes.

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Studio Owners on Dance Studio Management Software

Five Things to Know About Dance Studio Management Software

Because we deal with a lot of dance studios, we try to stay in tune with ways we can help them out in their day to day operations. Recently, we’ve noticed a recurring theme among our dance studio owner friends: questions about dance studio management software.

Should they use it? Which one is the best? How expensive is it?

Dance Studio Management Software Survey Highlights

Working with several studio owners and dance industry experts, we created a survey to help answer these questions and more. The survey was deployed in late 2014, and garnered over 600 complete, verified responses. Here are some of the key things we learned:

  • About two thirds (67%) of dance studios use studio management software.
  • Features rule. 35% of respondents say that they chose their particular software based on a feature set that met their needs. Also important: inexpensiveness (17%), ease of operation (16%), and recommendation of others (16%).
  • The three most important features of studio management software are billing and payment processing, class management, and email or text communication. The three features ranked least important were staff scheduling, website maintenance, and staff time clock.
  • Jackrabbit Dance is dominant, with 28% of the respondents indicating that they used it. Other popular software providers were Studio Director (18%), and Dance Works (14%).
  • Studio owner operators are generally satisfied with their studio management software, with 76% indicating that they were either “extremely satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied.” ClassJuggler, DanceStudio-Pro, Studio Director, and Jackrabbit Dance ranked the highest in satisfaction.

Read the In-Depth Report on Survey Results

To see the full summary of the survey results, please enter your email below.

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How to Choose the Right Music Editing Program

There are so many audio editing programs on the market, so how are you supposed to find the right one? If you’re looking to take your dance classes’ performances to the next level, you probably want to create some snazzy music mash ups and tweak some recital tunes (just make sure you have appropriate music licensing). There’s a music editing program for just about every skill level and budget that can help you achieve your audio goals. Use these steps to guide you through the process of choosing an editing program.

Start Slow

If you’re new to audio editing, there’s no need to drop big bucks on software. Video Maker explained that you should start out with a inexpensive or free program that fits your most basic needs. Make a list of the tasks you want to accomplish with the music editing program and look for those features. It’s also important to take into account the operating system that you’ll be using to do your editing. There are separate programs for Macs and PCs, and all applications will need a specific processor speed and space on the hard drive. The computer you use needs to be fast enough to run your editing software, else you’ll end up with a lot of frozen screens and headaches.

Try Free Demos

The workflow and design of a music editing program is just as important as its specs. Before you spend money on software, take advantage of any free trials or demos. Most companies will offer a limited version of the program or a timed trial, but you can get a good idea of how user-friendly the software is. You should be able to accomplish your goals quickly and efficiently, with limited help from the instruction manual. Look for a program that feels natural and intuitive for you – those are the ones that are worth spending money on.

Professional Recommendations

If you’re not sure where to start in the search for editing software, ask other studio owners for recommendations. Your peers probably have valuable insight into the pros and cons of different programs.

In an interview with Dance Teacher magazine, Barry Blumenfeld, a dance teacher and professor at New York University, recommended that dance teachers check out the following editing programs.

Free Software

Dance Studio Life listed these programs as good options for dance teachers as well.

Mac Programs

PC Programs

It might be a process of trial and error, but as long as you take your time and do the necessary research, you’ll find the perfect music editing software. Before you know it, you’ll have the hottest tracks for your students and be the star of your next competition.

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Simple SEO Tips for Dance Studio Websites

Dance Studio Websites

If your website is only showing up on page two or three of search engines, it may need an SEO boost. What’s SEO, you ask? It stands for “search engine optimization,” and in a nutshell, it’s the factors that help Google, Bing and other popular search sites rank their findings. SEO can be complicated, but there are a number of simple steps to take to push dance studio websites up the search engine ranks.

Focus on Local Keywords

The easiest way to improve your website’s SEO is to include keywords. They should be based on what your company has to offer and what makes you unique. Many times small businesses use general terms, like “dance studio” or “ballet classes.” While these keywords are a good start, they’re not specific enough to be helpful. In this pool, you’re competing with all the dance studios in the world! Hone down your keywords to those that pertain to your target market. Web Developer suggested starting with local SEO keywords. If you’re located in Dallas, your keywords might be “Dallas ballet studio,” “Dallas pointe classes” or “Dallas youth ballet.” You’ll want to incorporate these phrases throughout your website. Try to place keywords in your page titles, text, URLs and meta descriptions. If you’re unsure where any of these areas are, do a quick Google search or confer with a tech-savvy friend.

Increase Your Citations

Another simple way to climb the search engine ranks is to get more citations for your website. Citations are any other website where your business is mentioned. Whether it’s in an online phone directory or on a community blog, each “citation” of your business helps your SEO. Forbes magazine explained that citations are most effective when your company name is linked and accompanied by your phone number or address. The more quality citations you have, the higher your website will rank in searches. Joining your local chamber of commerce, sponsoring a community event, getting featured on a blog or even being listed in a plaza directory will all help increase your citations and SEO.

Provide Quality Content

The text on your website should be neat, clear and specific. Search Engine Watch noted that Google ranks well-written, on-topic content higher than sloppy or spammy text. You should aim to have at least 600 words per page. If some of your web pages are too short, consider combining or rewriting them. Everything should relate to your studio – no tangents! If you have a company blog associated with your website, follow the same guidelines while writing posts.

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