Archive | Tips & Advice

Dance Audition Don’ts!

Dance Audition Don’ts!

By Rebecca Martin of Dance Informa.

You’ve landed your dream audition for a company, school or production and you’re all prepared for the big day. Or are you?

Hopefully you know what you should do, such as arrive on time, wear appropriate attire, pay attention, be respectful of others, etc. – but do you know what irritates potential employers or teachers?

There are a number of cardinal sins that dancers make when attending auditions and Dance Informa has compiled a list of things you absolutely shouldn’t do. Ignore our advice at your own risk…

DON’T be unprepared

This means many things. Have the right shoes and have spare shoes just in case. Pack a needle and thread, band aids, resin, hair pins, knee pads, Advil, anti-inflammatories, a change of clothes, music, sheet music, a copy of your CV, head shot, completed application form, water and snacks.

You don’t know what might be needed of you on the day of, so you must be ready for anything. If you are going to a theater or studio you’ve never been to before, the floor could be sticky or slippery so bring different shoes and wear what works best.

Prepare yourself mentally and physically as well. Get plenty of rest the night before the audition, eat an energy filled breakfast, and warm-up your body before the audition. 

Do your research on the school or company so that you are able to answer questions when asked. By saying you don’t know the answer to something, you’re really saying that you don’t care enough to learn.

DON’T be late

No one wants to hear about the traffic on the freeway, your train delay or whether your bus broke down. Leave home early and account for any possible mishaps on the way in to the audition. If you want the job or the place, then you need to prove it. Things may go wrong but you need to show that you can still be relied upon. If you’re late to an audition, it’s safe to say you will be late to rehearsal, class, photo shoots and possibly even performances. Being late is disrespectful to the other auditionees, not to mention the people holding the audition.

DON’T be insulted

Often the criteria for a place or role is very specific and you may not be the right height, build or sex. Try not to become disheartened or insulted if you don’t get the role.  Definitely don’t be rude to the auditioners or complain to other dancers about the school or company. The dance world is tiny and you are likely to run into these people again so you don’t want to burn any bridges. For all you know, you may attend another audition down the track and be exactly what they are looking for.

Not every dancer is right for every position and the constant rejection can be hard. The best you can do is just keep working hard and stay positive. 

DON’T hide in the back

If you’re going to do this, you may as well stay home because you want to be seen.  You also want to show that you’ve got initiative, confidence and drive. Naturally, you shouldn’t be pushy or show off, but you need to present yourself. Be polite, attentive and give your all.

DON’T do your own thing

Sure, you may be able to do seven pirouettes or hitch your leg up around your ear, but if you have been asked to do a double pirouette and keep your legs low in a combination then that’s what you must do. Never change the combinations you are shown. You are being assessed on how well you pick up choreography, pay attention to detail, listen to and apply corrections, and adapt to different styles of dance. It’s okay if you make a mistake in a combination, so long as you aren’t consistently stuffing up throughout the audition. We all know nerves can get in the way of an audition, but you will also get nerves on stage and before assessments, so you need to show that you can work under pressure. If you make a mistake, move on and show that you aren’t fazed by it.

DON’T forget to let your personality shine

All the technique in the world can only get you so far. Be engaged at the audition, smile if something is funny, show emotion in your dancing where appropriate and be yourself in spoken interviews. Your personality will ultimately set you apart from the other dancers in the room.

Make sure to check out Dance Informa’s Audition directory for auditions and casting calls around the country and internationally.

Photo (top): © Diego Vito Cervo | Dreamstime.com

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Tackling Common Dancer Questions and Myths

Tackling Common Dancer Questions and Myths

By Emily C. Harrison MS, RD, LD
of The Centre for Dance Nutrition.
www.dancernutrition.com

As a dietitian for dancers and a former professional dancer myself, I get lots of emails. Many of these questions are about some common dancer myths that I remember from when I was in the school and the company. Here we take a deeper look at some of these and try to separate fact from fiction.    

Dear Dietitian: “I am a 17-year-old female ballet dancer (5’4″) and I have struggled within the last year in knowing what a healthy weight is for my body. I read online that ballet dancers should be 10 lbs. lighter than a healthy BMI for normal people, despite the fact that their muscle weighs more than fat. Is a BMI of 20.4 (over 120 lbs.) overweight if I wanted to get into a company?”

The term “BMI” refers to a calculation of someone’s height to their weight. I haven’t heard that ballet dancers have to be 10 lbs. lighter than a healthy BMI. This is one of those dancer myths. Healthy BMI is a big range and beautiful, successful, professional dancers come in all shapes and sizes. There is not a correct weight or BMI that dancers have to fit, and BMI doesn’t take into account muscle mass.

Successful ballet dancers are lean and muscular because they regularly make smart, healthy choices, not because they starve themselves to fit some arbitrary calculation or number on a scale. They know that they can’t eat junk, fast food or drink soda. Real professional dancers know that if they want to look good in tights, they have to fuel the body well with healthy food. It’s possible to eat well and still have a great career. Dancers shouldn’t define their potential for success by a number on a scale, but instead focus on hard work in the studio and smart food and beverage choices outside the studio.

Dear Dietitian: “I am 23 years old and I just got a company contract, but this past season my energy levels have been terrible and I am having trouble feeling strong at the end of class. I have tried eating more protein and less carbs, but it’s not working. Should I increase my protein before class?”

Energy levels depend on many factors. First, don’t go for more than three hours without eating. Never dance on an empty stomach. Second and most important, carbohydrate or “carbs” are the preferred source of energy for any athletic activity. The body likes to save protein for rebuilding muscle after exercise, maintaining fluid balance and many other biological processes. Eating protein and no carbs before dance is a great way to feel exhausted. Eat complex carbs like whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Try a bowl of oatmeal/porridge before class.

Energy levels can also be affected by hydration. Are you getting approximately 2800 ml (10-12 cups) of water per day? If not, make sure your water bottle goes everywhere with you and refill often.

Nutrition status can affect energy levels. Are you getting enough vitamins and minerals? B-vitamins and Iron are just two examples of nutrients that contribute to energy levels. If low energy persists, let your doctor know so he/she can rule out anything medical or food allergy related. Now get some good sleep and keep dancing. 

Dear Dietitian: “I am 15 years old and am in school during the day and dance in the evenings for 3-6 hours each day. It’s late by the time I finally get home after dance and I have lots of homework so I don’t eat much. I heard other dancers say that you shouldn’t eat after 8 p.m. anyway. Is that true?”

It is a myth that you shouldn’t eat past a certain time at night. Those calories don’t “turn into fat” just because you are going to bed soon. This is a critical time for muscle building, so eat something even if it’s small and quick. The body doesn’t shut down at night. You need nutrients even when sleeping. You have been dancing hard in class and rehearsal so you need to provide the building blocks for repair and strengthening if you want to improve.

An example post-dance meal might be some bean and veggie soup and a whole grain roll or quinoa. Rice, veggies and soy are easy, or you could have a sandwich and/or a salad with garbanzo beans with a glass of soy, flax or almond milk. Avoid the temptation to stop by fast food on the way home and get a calorie bomb meal. Instead make smart choices. You will gain strength faster if you provide nutrients post-exercise. 

For more letters to the dietitian related to these topics, see www.dancernutrition.com/ask-the-dietitian.html and feel free to send your own questions to the dietitian.

Emily Harrison
Dance nutritionistEmily Cook Harrison MS, RD, LD
Emily is a registered dietitian and holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in nutrition from Georgia State University. Her master’s thesis research was on elite level ballet dancers and nutrition and she has experience providing nutrition services for weight management, sports nutrition, disordered eating, disease prevention, and food allergies. Emily was a professional dancer for eleven years with the Atlanta Ballet and several other companies. She is a dance educator and the mother of two young children. She now runs the Centre for Dance Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyles. She can be reached at emily@dancernutrition.com www.dancernutrition.com

Photo (top): © Photographerlondon | Dreamstime.com

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What You Need to Know as a Freshman Dance Major

What You Need to Know as a Freshman Dance Major

By Katherine Moore of Dance Informa.

Here you are! After years and years of dance study you’re finally enrolled in a college dance program and are on your way to becoming a professional. You’ve made it…sort of. Here are some tips and guidelines for getting the most out of your college experience as a dance major.

1. Keep an open mind

For dancers who have been training for most of their lives, the tendency to feel like you already know it all can be strong. After all, you haven’t been training several nights a week and spending your summers inside at dance intensives for nothing, right? While all of those years of training and experiences are certainly a worthwhile part of your dance education, college study can be a totally different ballgame.

Your teachers will come with years of higher education teaching experience in addition to their work as dancers and choreographers, and they will use those skills to challenge you! Don’t be surprised if they ask you to think about your body, technique, or even what dance is in a totally different way.   If you’re attending a conservatory-type program, you will probably be pushed in ways you couldn’t have imagined as a dancer, performer, and possibly choreographer. If you’re attending a program at a liberal arts or research institution, you will probably be encouraged to look at dance within a variety of artistic, scientific, social, and cultural perspectives.

Instead of fighting against your teachers with what you “think” you already know about dance, embrace a beginner’s mindset and see what happens! This will give you a much fuller and more expansive dance experience over the next three to four years.

2. Take care of your body

Ever hear of the freshman 15? Yes, this can apply to dancers, too. In your late teens and early twenties, your body can go through big metabolic and hormonal changes that may affect your general health. Combined with the late night pizza parties, drinking, and lack of sleep that often characterize the first few years of a college experience, it can be a challenge to keep your body healthy.

It goes without saying that dancers should be particularly mindful of maintaining a healthy diet, but this can be hard to do. If you’re using food services on campus, try to choose nutritious options whenever possible. If you find those hard to find, college is the perfect time to teach yourself how to cook! Depending on your previous training, this may be the most dancing you’ve ever had to do in your life, so now is not the time to deprive your body of the nutrition and fuel it needs to perform at a high level.

Sleep is perhaps the most underrated tool you have to stay healthy in college. Yes, between dance classes, rehearsals, academic classes, and maybe even a job, you’ll have a lot going on. Lack of sleep can lead to injury, make you more susceptible to contagious illnesses, and lead to mental stress and anxiety. Seek out counseling services on campus if you find that you’re struggling to keep everything in balance. Being a dance major will also mean that you will face critique about your performance from your teachers, so find healthy ways to deal with corrections and advice about your dance training.

As a young adult you might also be making choices about drinking, drugs, and your sexual activity. Just remember that whatever you do with or put into your body will affect your dance performance and ability to get the most out of your program, so be safe and make informed, legal decisions. Think about your future, not just about having fun in the moment.

3. Explore all avenues

While at this moment you might be 100% certain that the only thing you ever want to do is dance, life has a funny way of opening different doors. A dance career requires years of hard work and your college experience may confirm your commitment to dance, or it may transform your dream in other ways. You might find an interest in directing or choreography, stage production, writing, or even physical therapy and dance medicine.

Your college years are a unique time when you get to explore lots of interests, so if something piques your attention, go for it!  If time and money permit, maybe you can even study abroad and explore dance in a foreign country. Be open to learning how dance can impact other areas of your life, and remember that your grades in academic classes do count!

4. Plan for the future

Once you’re in the college bubble, it can be easy to forget that there is an outside world you’ll have to re-enter after you graduate. Your teachers can be some your greatest assets when planning for life after graduation. Even as early as your freshman year, sit down with mentors and advisers to discuss what you want out of your program and where you hope to be at the end of it. They may recommend summer programs or internships to help you meet your goals, and they might be able to connect you with professionals in the field.

If your school has visiting guest artists who have their own dance companies, be sure to audition for their performances and sign up for their classes. They could be your future employer! Take advantage of career and counseling services, workshops, and opportunities to build relationships with peers and teachers. The dance world is actually quite small, and you never know who might want to hire you someday down the road.

Photo (top): © Antoniodiaz | Dreamstime.com

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Dance Injury Prevention 101: Your Friendly Neighborhood Athletic Trainer

Dance Injury Prevention 101: Your Friendly Neighborhood Athletic Trainer

By Leigh Schanfein of Dance Informa.

Who is an athletic trainer?

The National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) defines Athletic Trainers (AT) as “health care professionals who collaborate with physicians to provide preventative services, emergency care, clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions.” They specialize in educating and treating patients in order to prevent injury and re-injury. As the name suggests, they primarily work with athletic populations but they may work with other patient groups under the umbrella of physical medicine and rehabilitation.

Considering all they do, I’m surprised I didn’t find out about Athletic Trainers until I was in college, which is when I discovered them through the assets of the university sports teams. Fortunately, I was able to access care because of my proximity to some massive sports funding, though I was left wishing I’d known about what ATs could do for dancers earlier in my training. A lot of dancers don’t realize they have access to the great expertise of ATs, particularly those at university.

The dancers at SUNY Purchase, however, know all about the amazing care dancers can get from a Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC). They have regular access to Lauren Kreha, ATC, Clinical Specialist at the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries, NYU Langone Medical Center in New York. Lauren provides clinical care as well as a great deal of preventative care for dancers in companies like Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet and Ballet Hispanico, as well as at Purchase. She wants dancers to see her before they are injured so that they can avoid dance injuries.

Harkness Center for Dance Injuries

Lauren Kreha working with a dancer at the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries. Photo courtesy of Lauren Kreha.

“You don’t need to be hurt to see me. A lot of the time, dancers in my athletic training room just come for nutrition advice, to vent, or work on getting stronger. Athletic trainers have the opportunity to build rapport with dancers before they’re hurt, which makes it easier to comfort and treat them in those moments of crisis.” ATs like Lauren put in the extra work to make sure dancers like you don’t get injured, get well as quickly as possible, and return stronger so they don’t get injured again.

Can I trust them with my dance injuries?

Just as you would trust a doctor, physical therapist, masseuse or acupuncturist, an AT is a licensed health care provider, and whether or not you should trust them with your injury depends on what kind of experience they have with dancers and our somewhat unique needs. Fortunately, ATs are used to working with athletes who have extremely similar demands to those of dancers. Just as they know an athlete needs to get back onto the field or court, they will understand your need to get back into the studio or on stage as quickly and painlessly as possible. 

As Lauren points out, an AT’s training makes him or her ideal for working with dancers. “We understand the need for a dancer to return to peak physical condition as quickly as possible, and are highly skilled in finding ways to make that happen,” she said.

Also critical for dancers is getting help right away so an injury doesn’t get worse because care wasn’t available or the dancer was afraid to go to someone about his or her injury. Sometimes, this means getting help immediately in the wake of a serious injury that can threaten the overall health, livelihood, and even the life of the dancer. “Athletic trainers are also prepared to evaluate injuries right after they happen and make quick decisions about returning to activity or referral. One of the things that makes me most proud to be an athletic trainer is that you can not only trust me with dance injuries (e.g. ankle sprain) but also life-threatening injuries. I am ready to respond if your heart stops beating, and can save your life.”

Harkness Center for Dance Injuries

Lauren Kreha stretching a dancer at the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries. Photo courtesy of Lauren Kreha.

How does an athletic trainer differ from a physical therapist or a personal trainer?

Though they have a similar name, ATs and personal trainers have very different roles. ATs go to school for a bachelor’s and/or master’s degree in athletic training, and 46 states also require them to become certified (that’s the “C” in ATC). They work under the direction of a physician to prevent, diagnose and intervene in emergency, acute and chronic medical conditions. They are healthcare professionals. A personal trainer develops and implements exercise programs according to fitness goals and is not qualified to provide medical care.

Physical therapists and ATs have more in common when it comes to schooling, level of expertise, and what exactly they are permitted and expected to do with a patient.

After beginning an education that started out with a combined Athletic Training/Physical Therapy track, and learning the skills that both professions attain, Lauren realized she wanted specifically to pursue the AT because of the critical care component. “Athletic trainers (in the traditional sense) are there when an injury occurs. There’s a lot of excitement in immediate care and acute assessment that you don’t get in the clinic.”

How do I find a trustworthy ATC in my town?

Because ATs must practice under the direction of a physician, they will be associated with medical teams at clinics, hospitals, high school and university settings, and other medical organizations. Lauren makes a particularly important point about getting in to see an expert at your school or medical center: “If you don’t currently have access to their care, change that! One of my interns last summer was a dancer at my athletic training alma mater. We talked about getting the dancers access to the athletic trainers on campus, and then [she] went back to GVSU and made it happen!”

SUNY Purchase dance students

ATC Lauren Kreha working with a group of her SUNY Purchase students in a “Running for Dancers” workshop. Photo courtesy of Lauren Kreha.

Sometimes it’s not obvious how to find an AT, but if there are athletics in your town, there is probably at least one AT associated with that team, and you can seek them out or inquire if there is a branch of their services that non-team athletes can access. Never be afraid to ask, you might just find your new best friend in injury prevention and rehabilitation! 

Lauren Kreha, ATC, is a Clinical Specialist at the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries at NYU Langone Medical Center. She provides backstage coverage for Broadway shows and dance companies in New York City as well as injury prevention assessments and educational lectures to the dance community

Photo (top): ATC Lauren Kreha working with a dancer at the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries. Photo courtesy of  Lauren Kreha.

Posted in Dance Health, Teacher Tips & Resources, Tips & Advice1 Comment

Failing to Plan Nearly Killed Me…but it may have saved our businesses

Failing to Plan Nearly Killed Me…but it may have saved our businesses

By Paul Henderson for Dance Informa.

I used to scuba dive a lot when I was in college.  When I learned to dive, since it’s possible to actually die if you do it wrong, we had a saying.  “Plan your dive.  Dive your plan.”  It meant that before you get in the water, know exactly where you’re going, how deep you’re going for how long and where you will surface…among other things.

A couple of years ago, after not diving for over a decade, a buddy and I went for a dive in Cabo San Lucas.  It was to be a simple dive to a depth of 70 feet where we would descend against an underwater cliff, scoot along the sandy ocean floor about 400 meters to explore another rocky area and then surface.  Before we hopped in the rickety old water taxi, our guide, in very poor English, explained that we should not touch the sand with our hands because of some sort of danger that lurked there.  My dive buddy and I, along with our guide, hopped into the barely floating vessel, rode out to the site, donned our gear, jumped in and started descending…our guide leading the way.

When we hit the bottom of the ocean, which happened to be right near the Arch at Land’s End, our guide proceeded to swim swiftly along the bottom toward a giant rock that we couldn’t actually see.  My dive buddy and I quickly ran into trouble.  Our dive spot happened to be right where the Pacific Ocean meets the Sea of Cortez.   It was rough down there.  It was like swimming into invisible waves.  The surge would rhythmically pull us away from our destination and then push us toward our destination.  The problem was that since the dive master had told us not to put our hands in the sand, we couldn’t stop ourselves and had to kick furiously to keep from going backwards.  Further exacerbating the problem was that neither of us had used the “kicking with fins” leg muscles in so long that it caused our heart rates to sky-rocket and our breathing became deep and rapid.

Meanwhile, the dive master, who had told us not to put our hands in the sand, would jam his hands and the tips of his fins into the sand every time the surge wanted to pull him backwards.  Once the surge reversed, he would kick merrily away from us at warp speed, barely breathing at all.

Communication underwater is not easy, especially when you haven’t done it in a decade.  After 10 minutes of surging back and forth I grabbed my buddy’s fin, shook it until he looked at me and pointed to my air gauge.  Despite only being underwater for 25 minutes I only had 1000 psi left in my tank – 1/3 of what I started with.  At the rate I was breathing, that would only last another 10 minutes.  Normally, this would be when surfacing started.  He looked at it.  He looked at his gauge, which also said 1000 psi (pounds per square inch).  He looked at the dive master swimming away from us.  I pointed at the dive master and indicated we should try to catch him, which we did.  I yanked on the dive master’s fin and held up one finger in front of his mask.  He held up the OK sign and swam away.

I knelt on the ocean floor, wondering what to do 70 feet below the surface.  I decided that I needed to surface, but it’s a rule not to leave a dive buddy.  I swam after my buddy, caught him, passed him and caught the dive master.  I only had 400 psi now.  I tapped the dive master on the shoulder and this is where I made the biggest mistake.  When he turned around and looked at me I again pointed with one finger toward the surface.  I even pumped my hand up and down toward the sky…as if to poke at the surface.  He nodded, and again he swam away into the surge.  I was confused.  I was angry.  I was becoming worried.  I thought I had told him I needed to surface.

The mistake I made was that the signal to surface is a thumbs up motion…not a “point to the sky like an idiot” motion.  I had inadvertently told him that I had 1000 psi.  I didn’t think I had the air to chase him down again, which would have been ideal because I could have shared his air.

My buddy was down to about 400 psi also, but he was about 15 feet away from me.  I swam over to him.  I pointed up again…my eyes wide open.  I was scared.  I was about to run out of air on the bottom of the ocean.  He nodded.  I looked at my gauge…200 psi! My depth gauge read 85 feet below the surface.

I had no choice.  I started ascending.  Slowly.  My buddy started ascending too, but far away from me.  When scuba diving, ascending too fast can cause nitrogen bubbles to form in your blood.  Those bubbles can cause all sorts of problems…like decompression sickness, severe pain, death. You’re supposed to ascend at about 30-60 feet per minute, or as fast as your smallest exhaled bubbles float up to the surface.   Running out of air also causes some problems…like not being able to breathe which would force a Controlled Emergency Swimming Ascent, which is extremely uncomfortable when done correctly and if done incorrectly can cause your lungs to explode (pulmonary barotrauma) and decompression sickness just for fun.

With only 200 psi, and at the rate I was breathing, which was becoming more and more rapid with every worried breath, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it to the surface.  I tried to calm myself down.  I kicked slowly, deliberately.  At about 40 feet, it was becoming harder and harder to get the last bits of air from my tank.  I was becoming more and more worried, which made me want to breathe faster which caused me to use more and more air.  I wanted to swim up faster.  My buddy was ascending about 30 feet away from me and I knew he was nearly out of air too.  Our dive master was nowhere to be seen.

At about 20 feet I knew I would make it to the surface, but the air in my tank must have been really low, because it was like trying to breathe through a straw that had been chewed on one end.  There just wasn’t anything coming out.  I continued kicking…15 feet, 10 feet, 5 feet…surface!  I bobbed on the surface and waited for my head to explode.   I looked at my air gauge.  Less than 50 psi.  My dive buddy surfaced 30 feet away.  Our dive master surfaced a few minutes later about 100 yards away – looking confused.    I found out later he had 2000 psi left in his tank!

We had planned our dive poorly and we didn’t dive our plan.

It’s an interesting metaphor for running a dance studio, or any business for that matter.  A good plan, in most cases, will reduce the likelihood of something bad happening.  A good plan will increase the chances that something good will happen.  Running around without a solid plan will most certainly result in something bad happening or at the very least, missing an opportunity to make something very good happen.

It doesn’t matter if you have one studio with 40 dancers or 7 studios with 4,000 dancers…you still need a plan or you just might run out of air at a critical point in your season.

At our studios we have something called “The TDA Book”.  We call it “The Book” for short.

Because dance studios are typically owned by someone who is also teaching classes, it is easy for that person to become distracted at various times throughout the year.  A good office manager or studio director can help, but it’s up to the owner to plan the season and ensure the plan is carried out.

Here’s what we did.  We created a Google Doc spreadsheet and listed all of the “Events” that occur in a season.  For example, Nutcracker, Newsletter, Daddy Daughter Dance.   By the end of the exercise, we had listed 17 “Events”.

Here are some of ours:

Costumes
Daddy Daughter Dance
Fall Registration
Newsletter
Nutcracker
Parent Observation

We then added a column called Activity. For example an Event might be Nutcracker and an Activity for that event might be “Design Nutcracker Program”.  Believe it or not, we have 270 “activities” to manage the 17 events.

Next, we added a column called “Date” and entered the date that each activity needed to be completed.

We also added a column called “Responsible”.  That column indicates whose job it is to complete the task.  Even if you are your only employee, creating this spreadsheet will keep you on track.

Finally, we added a few columns for “Collaborators” since most jobs require a few people to actually carry them out.

Note, we like using Google Docs because it makes real-time sharing and collaboration very easy.

Here is a sample:

Dance Studio Planning Schedule

Now, here’s where it becomes very useful!  Spreadsheets can be sorted by any column.  If you sort by “Event”, you will see everything associated with a particular event.

Dance Studio Planning Schedule

Sort by Date and train yourself and your staff to check The Book at the beginning of each week to remind them of what tasks they need to be working on.

Sort by Date and train yourself and your staff to check The Book at the beginning of each week to remind them of what tasks they need to be working on.

If you sort by “Responsible” you can view each person’s responsibilities.  This becomes unbelievably useful if/when your office manager or a key assistant needs to be replaced.
Dance Studio Planning Schedule

The Book is the “plan” for your studio for the entire season.

Best of all, you really only need to do it once and just change the dates each season!  Get to work on your plan today and you’ll benefit all season.

Paul Henderson

Paul Henderson

About Paul Henderson
Paul Henderson is an expert on administrative technologies for the dance industry and has been around the business for almost 30 years. His sisters were elite state champion gymnasts and dancers and his mother owned a dance studio and eventually a dancewear store. He managed the dancewear store for a few years before moving to the San Francisco Bay Area. He and his wife, Tiffany, currently own and operate Twinkle Star Dance™ – an online choreography and curriculum system for recreational dancers ages 2-11; seven successful dance studios in Northern California (www.tiffanydance.com) and one in Southern California. Tiffany’s Dance Academy’s annual enrollment of over 4,500 students caused Paul to invent ways to automate most of the day-to-day business transactions that take up so much of a studio owner/instructor’s time. Paul’s goal has always been to smooth out the business side of the dance studios so that his wife can spend more time in the studio doing what she loves…teaching. Automating online registration and monthly automatic tuition payments was achieved eight years ago but perhaps the most revolutionary invention is his web-based application – CostumeManager.com.

About CostumeManager.com
For the past six years, Paul Henderson has worked tirelessly with most of the major costume and dancewear manufacturers to consolidate their catalogs into one searchable website. Developing relationships with these companies has been crucial to the success of CostumeManager.com and his efforts have paid off for studios all across the United States and Canada. By creating one searchable website, it is possible for a studio owner to browse all catalogs simultaneously, assign items that they like to a dance class, establish their profit margin, create an online store or print a color worksheet for dancers explaining how they can order their required and or/optional items online or via toll free telephone. Dancers purchase their items securely online and CostumeManager.com orders, receives, sorts and ships the individually packaged items to the studio owner. The studio owner or instructor cashes their “commission” check, hands the bags of goods to the dancer and goes back to teaching. CostumeManager.com eliminates 90% of the work and all the worry associated with distributing costumes and dancewear to dancers while preserving all of the profit margin…if not more.

To connect with Paul Henderson and CostumeManager visit www.CostumeManager.com, www.TwinkleStarDance.com, or www.TiffanyDance.com.

Photo (top): © Aquanaut4 | Dreamstime.com

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Eyelash Envy

Eyelash Envy

Growing, maintaining and curling lashes – plus mascara myths and the truth about false lashes!

By Christine Dion of Mode Dion.

Nothing is more of an eye-opener than having long, thick, curled lashes. Beautiful lashes are a sign of health and youth. Here’s a few tips to help you achieve lash beauty and longevity.

Open your eyes to good health.
Lashes are hair and for shiny, strong hair, whether
Mode Dion Cosmetics and Trainingfrom the top of your head or the tips of your eye lids, both require good health and vitamins. Studies have shown Vitamin B, especially with Biotin, can help not only increase hair growth and strength but is also good for finger nails. The best way to get more Biotin is in your diet. Boost Biotin by eating foods rich in it, like cauliflower, salmon, bananas, carrots, egg yolks, sardines, legumes and mushrooms.

Curling lashes opens the eyes and makes lashes look longer. Position an eyelash curler as close to the roots of your lashes as possible without pinching your skin. Clamp down gently, and hold in place for a few seconds. Move the curler a little farther out, and very lightly press again. Repeat once or twice more, each time moving the curler up the lash. If your lashes are thin, brush on a coat of primer. Avoid curling daily as this can stress lashes and NEVER curl with mascara on!

All mascara is not created equal. Hypoallergenic mascara is for sensitive eyes; this is especially helpful for contact wearers. Any mascara that can be irritating can also cause lashes to fall out. Waterproof mascara should be used just for the beach or pool, not for every day as this formula can be drying and difficult to remove, causing stress to the lashes. Avoid waterproof formulas if perspiring, like when performing on stage or competing in outdoor sports. Skin oils increase when perspiring and will cause the mascara to breakdown and run. On Lengthening and volumizing formulas: Mascara varies in both formulas and applicators. It can help to have both available to layer the formulas for longer and thicker lashes.

Apply mascara from the roots up, gently sweeping side to side until you reach the ends. The roots are important, so spend time to distribute evenly.

Brush up with a lash brush (old cleaned mascara wand works great), or comb to the ends of the lashes to create a more feathery look.

False Lash ApplicationLash serums and primers: Lash serums are designed to treat lashes, providing healthy vitamins and protective ingredients. Primers are used to make lashes larger and are applied as the first layer on your lashes before mascara.

Keep mascara fresh by avoiding pumping the applicator back and forth in the tube. This introduces air into the chamber and can cause the mascara to dry out prematurely. Instead, roll the wand inside gently and tap the tip on tissue to avoid clumps. Mascara should be discarded after three to four months of use. As it begins to dry out, you will notice more flakes and chances for eye infections as the bacteria begins to build up.

Trick for thicker lashes: Use a black, dark brown, navy or black plum pencil, liquid or cake wet/dry liner in between the lashes and along the lash roots of the upper lashes to increase the illusion of thicker lashes at the base line.

Remove mascara properly. Remove eye makeup before washing your face. Eye makeup removers are very helpful, with non-oily formulas being the easiest to use on a cotton square swiping in downward strokes. For a more natural remover, try Almond Oil, a favorite among spa professionals. Eye makeup or facial makeup remover wipes work well too. Avoid Vaseline and Baby Oil as these leave a film not only on your skin but your eyes, causing infections and eye problems. Never sleep in mascara as this can cause eye irritation and dry out lashes. Brushing lashes with a little Olive Oil before bed has proven to help lashes grow thicker. Be careful not to get any in your eyes and apply a little to your eye brows too if needed.

The truth on false lashes: Natural looking false lashes are feathery and have more spaces between them. Cut little pieces and glue just at the outer eye corner to lift and open eyes.

  • The size: False lashes vary in size from short (just enough to bring out your eyes) to long for deluxe drama. Individual lashes are little lash clusters glued on just where you feel a bit more lash is needed. These can be harder to use than a strip and require a tweezer to place them. For stage, try thicker strip lashes. Consider the best size for your performance style.
  • The cut: For a natural look, cut false lashes down to size by snipping the longer outer lashes. Be sure to cut allowing the inner lash to fall just beyond the inner side of your pupil, leaving the inner 1/8 of the lid lash free. This prevents a cross eyed look from a distance and a more natural appearance.
  • The stick: Use clear lash glue (it comes in black or clear). The clear comes out white, but dries clear so that even if you make a mistake it won’t ruin your make-up. Squeeze a small drop of glue into the false lash container and put the eye lash glue lid back on right away to prevent the glue from drying out. Using the lid tip dip into the glue and line the base of the lash with a very thin application of glue. Now count to five to allow the glue to dry a bit and become tacky. Apply false lash at the base of your lid where lash roots are. Start at outer corner. Glue on lash just at the outer edge of eye corner. Open eyes and check position. If lash looks right (not too far in or out) you are ready to secure across lash root line. Hold tips of the false lash and press in as you go across. Glue will stick to your fingertips, so use the end of a make-up brush or tweezer to push into lash root line. For individual lashes, place one cluster at a time, starting at the outer corner. Use tweezers to hold onto the lashes and help with placement. Apply one coat of mascara lightly starting at base of real lashes and blending into false lashes.
  • Tip: Apply false lashes after eye shadow and liner. The false lashes can block your view, making it harder to see your application and make-up can collect in them.
  • Remove gently to avoid pulling out lashes by wetting a Q-Tip with eye makeup remover and gently gliding it along the lash root base to loosen the glue. Then gently, with downward strokes, slide off the lashes. Wash lashes draped over your pinky to keep the curl with liquid soap and gently brush the soap (use clean old mascara wand) or work the soap into the lash hairs to remove all glue and mascara traces. Then dry shaping nicely on a tissue. Remember – how lashes dry is the shape they will keep.

This helpful tutorial will show you how to get a perfect false lash application:

 

Extensions. In the last year, eyelash extensions have become popular. Rather than applying false lashes yourself (which you’re generally only wearing for a day), you can go to a salon to get individual lashes glued in place between your natural lashes. You can even custom pick the length of your lashes. The process can take a couple of hours, but can provide you with a few weeks of beautiful, eye-batting lashes. (Salons recommend you come in for touch ups every two to three weeks—those take about 30 minutes).

For more information and high performance products including false lashes, go to modedion.com and click Shopping. Mention “Dance Informa” at checkout when shopping and get 20% off your next Mode Dion Cosmetics order! Follow Mode Dion Cosmetics & Training on Facebook for more helpful tips and specials.

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How to Take Care of Your Body and Mind During Summer Dance Intensives

How to Take Care of Your Body and Mind During Summer Dance Intensives

By Katherine Moore of Dance Informa.

To many young people, summer means endless days of freedom, ice cream and time to relax. For dancers, however, summer can mean long days, weeks or even months of classes and intensives. Dance companies and schools around the world offer unique summer training programs designed to push young students further in their technique and performance skills. These programs can be both exhilarating and exhausting. So here are some tips to make sure you are getting the most out of your summer program.  

1. Warm up properly.

With the higher temperatures of summer, the temptation to skip a thorough warm-up is strong. You feel warm, so your muscles and joints must be ready to go, right? Wrong. Simply feeling hot from the 90-degree weather in 100-percent humidity does not equal giving your body the preparation it needs to dance. Your joints need a thorough warm-up to start releasing the synovial fluid that protects the joint itself during movement. While your muscles may feel more flexible and open than usual, warming up gets your central nervous system in gear and ready to protect yourself from injury.

2. Drink enough water.

It might go without saying, but staying hydrated is one of the most important parts of taking care of yourself during long days of dance. You need to drink plenty of water before, during and especially after a day of rehearsal and class. When in doubt, drink more.

3. Eat well-balanced meals.

Some programs could have you dancing for 8-10 hours a day, maybe more. Depending on your typical training regimen, this may be more hours of exercise per day than you’re used to. Consequently, you’ll need a bit more fuel than usual to get you through the day.

During hot summer days, many people feel that they have less of an appetite, especially in the evening, so make sure you eat a full, balanced breakfast to get you off on the right foot and ready for a day of dancing.

Focus on whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats throughout the day, and keep snacks around like nuts and fruit to eat in between class and rehearsal. At lunch and dinner, be sure to stock up on veggies to replace the nutrients and minerals you’ve been using, and don’t forget to get some healthy carbohydrates in there for extra energy. Trust me, you’ll need it. Remember, you can also rehydrate by eating foods with high water content, such as fruit and leafy greens. 

4. Know your limits.

It’s important to know when you need to rest. Most summer programs have fairly strict rules about attendance, but if you have completely exhausted yourself, you won’t be getting as much out of your summer dancing as you should. If you get an option for an afternoon off, take it if you need it. Make sure to establish a good relationship with your teachers and directors so that you can both determine if you need a break. 

Injuries are common during summer programs, often because you are dancing more than your body is used to. Pay attention and listen to what your body is telling you. Take time at the end of the day to cool down, stretch and elevate your feet. This can be a great way to check in with how you actually are.

Remember, especially for the hypermobile dancers out there, overstretching can do as much damage as not stretching at all. Particularly if you are really warm and tired, the likelihood of pulling a muscle with vigorous stretching at the end of day increases. Try passive, gentle stretching to decrease soreness and prepare yourself for the next day of dancing. 

5. Have fun!

While summer dance intensives and programs are designed to put you in the professional dancer’s mindset, remember that summer (and dancing) is supposed to be fun! Work hard, but also keep in mind the real reasons why you dance.

Make friends with the other students in your program, enjoy the opportunity to learn and take advantage of opportunities to try new things and learn from new teachers! If your summer is full of workshops and intensives, be sure to schedule in some down time with friends and family.

Especially if you’re attending a program in a city far from home, take the chance to explore and get out of the dance studio when you can. You’ll be surprised at how much having a little fun will improve your dancing and summer experience. 

Photo (top): © Photographerlondon | Dreamstime.com

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Choosing a Dance Studio – A Guide for Parents

Choosing a Dance Studio – A Guide for Parents

By Emily Yewell Volin of Dance Informa.

Faculty

A studio is only as good as its instructors and different classes require a different type of instructor for optimum benefit. While professional performance experiences with reputable companies are frequently a guarantee of technical ability on the teacher’s behalf, the same doesn’t always translate to top-quality instruction. Find out where current and former students of the studio are and what they are doing. The goal is for your young dancer to find a place with excellent technical training alongside a passion for embracing youth development. This partnership of purpose helps young dancers generalize lessons from dance study to inform their future endeavors. Pay attention to the variety of teachers employed by the school – the more diverse, the better.

Class Offerings

What type(s) of dance does your child hope to study? Find out what genres the school offers. Options include, but are in no way limited to, classical ballet, creative movement, jazz, contemporary, modern, tap, world dance, hip-hop, social dance, leaps and turns, and stretch. Ask the school for class definitions and then compare what your child seems interested in with the options.

Communication

Find out how the studio communicates with its students and their families. Does the school utilize a website or social media to keep families informed of news, weather-related closings and general announcements? What are the payment options for classes? Are discounts offered to those who pay for a half-year or a full year instead of monthly? Can you pay online or set up an auto payment? And on which day of the month will tuition be due? Notice if audition postings, summer study fliers and dance-related news, health and tips articles are available to students. A vibrant studio will have a constant influx of current news and information available for students and their families.

Student Placement & Progress Reports

Ask how the school will properly place your child into class. Is there a placement audition or will the child be asked to sample a few classes and decide, upon consultation with faculty, where he/she best fits? How will your student receive feedback about goal-setting and accomplishment? Is there a system in place for student reflection about his/her progress? Also, find out if/when parents are welcome to observe class. Most schools designate a parent watch week and a few schools offer one-way mirrors or live video feed from the studio to the lobby for interested parents. Know that it is important for your student to be able to do his/her class work without constant parental input, but that it is important for a parent to be aware of his/her child’s work ethic and progress.

Conservatory, Competitive or Recreational

Deciding what type of school or class is best for your child can be tricky. Is your child drawn to dance because of a particular exposure to movement? Does your child enjoy performance and/or competition or want to dance recreationally? These are questions to ask your aspiring dancer. Most studios offer a few different tracks for dancers. You can register for once weekly recreational classes that may or may not include a performance component – typically a recital or informal event. However, if your dancer hopes to be involved in large-scale productions and commit to a conservatory-type of training in various genres for several hours a week, you may want to audition for placement in the studio’s youth company.  Finally, some studios offer a competitive option. These schools typically offer the opportunity to audition for inclusion on a traveling competitive team.

Dress Code

What type(s) of dress codes are in place at the studio you are considering? The answer to this will inform your knowledge of the studio’s approach. You hope to find that the school requires form-fitting clothing as well as appropriate footwear, no jewelry and hair secured off the face. Dress codes for a recreational class will be less formal than for the conservatory or competitive classes. However, it is typical for a youth company format to involve a celebrated succession of color leotards that denote accomplishment of level. For example, the youngest dancers begin in ballet pink, the eldest and most accomplished dancers graduate to navy blue. Instructors must be able to see body alignment in order to provide essential body alignment information. Dress codes also ensure appropriate coverage and support of the body during class.

Facility

Visit the school and assess its cleanliness, safety of the entrance and parking lot and studio arrangement. Find out if there are student dressing rooms, accessibility to water and adequate lighting. Is the studio atmosphere vibrant and are materials (mats, barres, floors) in good condition? Ask about the flooring system in the studios and be certain your dancer will not be dancing on concrete. The gold standard for studio flooring is a floating floor covered with marley. Find out what your dancer’s developing body will be spending hours training upon.

Camaraderie

Plan a time to visit the school with your aspiring student. Aim for arriving during the bustle of classes and, without causing disruption, peek into the classroom windows to get a sense of how classes are conducted at the school. Are the classes conducted in an orderly way? Pay attention to the rapport among studio faculty, students, parents and staff. Do people seem happy to be there and at ease? Do you see evidence of individual and group accomplishments being celebrated by the studio’s community via a newsletter or bulletin board postings in the studio? What types(s) of programs are in place for helping dancers at the studio feel part of the larger studio community? Big Sister/Big Brother programs between the older and younger dancers, open studio days, flash mob participation, fundraising activities and other recreational events help students and their families find the benefits of authentic community through the studio.

Performance Component

Does the idea of performing excite or terrify your child? Find out which class, company or competitive expectations best fit your student’s interests and register accordingly. Ask about the rehearsal time, financial commitment and volunteer expectations involved with the different options. Be realistic about discerning the best balance for your family.

Performance Samples

View performance samples from the studio. Many schools share these samples online. If not, ask for access to a recent recording. As you are watching, assess the age appropriateness of the choreography and costuming as well as the overall quality of the performance. Regardless of the technical ability of the dancer(s), the performance should look well rehearsed and polished.

Photo (top): © Antoniodiaz | Dreamstime.com

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MOTION Dance Studio Management Software

MOTION Dance Studio Management Software

MOTION [mo-shunNoun

The action or process of moving forward; Power of movement; The act or process of moving; The ability or power to move.

The word “motion” is defined as the action of constantly moving forward. It was this characterization at its core that was the inspiration and the namesake of the new dance studio management software, MOTION by TigerSix.

To understand the concept of MOTION and why it is so radically different, we need to go back to October 5, 1991 and look at the revolutionary software release of the Linux operating system. Linux revolutionized the software industry because it was the most prominent example of free open source software. In short, the program and its underling source code could be modified and changed by the user of the program. The Linux collaboration method allowed the users to freely contribute and change the software, allowing it to evolve into a more robust product. The more people who used it, the better it got because everyone could contribute to the program. It is this same collaboration methodology that was the inspiration and the driving force behind the development of the MOTION Dance Studio Management Software.

Now, let’s fast forward to 2014 and look at the typical studio management software on the market. The software is designed to be used for multiple industry segments. The software can be used to manage a dance studio, a gym, a karate studio, a spa or even your local town’s lacrosse program. This allows the software manufacturer to get the most “bang for their buck.” The problem with this model is that you need to have every possible feature in the software that will serve every industry segment that you are selling it to. The end result is software that is complicated to use and difficult to learn. You end up with screens, functions and fields that you simply don’t need to manage your dance studio. The compounding problem is that the manufacturer cannot modify the software for a specific user. Any changes to the software have to conform to every industry segment that it is being sold to.

MOTION powered by TigerSixIf you are currently using a software package to manage your dance studio, look at the program. How many fields are on each screen and how many of them do you really use? How complicated is the process of registering a student for a class? Can it handle complex table billing?

Now let’s look at MOTION. The team of software gurus at TigerSix developed MOTION using the Linux software model: Allow everyone to collaborate and contribute to the product. Allow every user of the software to submit their opinion and request new features. Evolve with the dance industry and provide the latest in technology in a simple, easy-to-use format.

It is this underling core value that sets MOTION apart. It is also the reason why MOTION cannot be used to manage a fitness center. MOTION was designed by dance studio owners, teachers, managers and the leaders in the industry, such as Dance Teacher Web, to be used for one thing, managing a dance studio.

After the initial release of MOTION in July 2013, the company asked the users of MOTION what they liked, what they didn’t like and what they needed to make the job of managing their dance studio easier. It was this collaborative model and the resulting input of the actual users that led to the release of some of the most innovative features: the Table Billing Module, Unlimited Discount Module, Automated Text Notification, and the integration of Discount Dance Supply and TuTuTIX. These are just a few of the many unique features developed, tested and released based on the needs of the MOTION users.  

For more information on MOTION, visit www.motionbytigersix.com or call 1-888-910-8060.

MOTION [the software]  

The action of providing the Dance Studio Owner with everything they need to manage their studio in one easy to use, affordable package.

Photo (top): © Neil270 | Dreamstime.com

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Dance’s Dirtiest Word – Advice for Studio Owners

Dance’s Dirtiest Word – Advice for Studio Owners

By Paul Henderson.

I must admit, traveling through Europe has been an eye-opening experience.  You see, my wife, Tiffany and I are on a “trip of a lifetime” this summer after an exhausting season running our seven dance studios.  We’re currently in Scotland and I’ve discovered a piece of my heritage that I never really new existed.

The Scots, widely known as “frugal”, have some proverbs with which I’ve been driving my wife and kids crazy for the past decade.  The one that drives them most insane is “A penny saved is a penny earned.”  I typically shout this to the upstairs portion of our house every few hours when I notice they’ve left the hall lights on…again.  It drives me nuts and I, in turn, drive them nuts.

Another saying I use all the time is “waste not, want not”.  Which I take to mean that one should not waste anything or they’ll be sorry later.

I also say “calm down” a lot…which, I realize, is quite annoying, but it’s easy to get out of sorts when running dance studios.

So, a typical morning at our house goes like this as the kids are about to leave the house for school.

Me:  Turn off the lights!  A penny saved is a penny earned!

Kids:  Ugh!

Tiffany:  Eye roll

Me:  Seriously!?  Waste not want not.

Kids:  Gaw!  Jeez!  Ugh!

Me:  Calm down!  Turn off the lights!  And check your bathroom light and your fans!

Tiffany: Ugh!

What does this have to do with anything dance?  I’ll explain.  For 15 years we’ve been busy building our dance studios and customer base.  We’ve worked really hard and we’ve been successful and we’ve begun the process of sharing what we’ve learned with the rest of the dance community that we love so much.

As I lay awake the other night suffering from jet lag, but completely unable to sleep, it dawned on me that my “waste not, want not” and “a penny saved is a penny earned” proverbs had a deep and profound application for dance studio owners.  This, after all, is what I call the death zone of the dance studio.  Let’s face it, the months of July and August are horrendous and frightening because it’s possible to completely run out of cash.  The effects can last well into November if a reserve of cash isn’t available and student enrollment doesn’t peak until December or January.

I’ll explain a way to earn some cash without spending a penny in a minute, but first I want to touch on one other very important aspect of dance studio life.  It’s an issue I’m not entirely comfortable talking about, because I’m a man.  I do; however, spend most of my life in the company of women and female dancers.  I have three sisters and no brothers.  I have a wife that is very comfortable explaining to me “women’s issues” so that I understand my environment better.  I have about 50 female dance instructors and my entire staff at CostumeManager.com are female.

Here’s what I’ve learned.  Women are pleasers and they make decisions based on pleasing people.  I often hear Tiffany and her instructors say the following when making a decision on whether or not to implement a policy or a program at our dance studio.  “Oh, THEY will LIKE that,” or “Ew, THEY WON’T like that”.  This brings me to the dirtiest word in the dance industry.  Can you guess what it is?

Wait.  Before I tell you the word, I’ll explain a bit more about the “THEY” in the above statements made by Tiffany and her instructors and staff.  Who are THEY?  Let’s say you have 200 students at your dance studio and you want to increase the price of your recital tickets by $2 each.  You might say “Ew, THEY won’t like that”.  When you say “THEY”, who precisely are you talking about?  In my experience the “THEY” are the 2% of your customers who complain about everything, no matter what you do.  Yes, if you increase the price of your tickets by $2 (half the price of a latte at Starbucks) you can expect 2% of your customers to be absolutely livid.  If you have 200 customers, you will upset 4 of them.  They may or may not quit.  However, 196 of your customers won’t be bothered by the decision enough to say or do anything and you will have earned an extra $2000* to help you pay rent in August. * 200 students will yield ticket sales of 5 tickets per dancer.  1,000 tickets x $2 = $2,000.

Can you guess the dirty word now?

One more example before I tell you…

Let’s say you have 200 dancers at your studio and since it is summer, most of them are traveling around and not taking much class.  They are all coming back in August or September.  You are running low on cash, right?  It’s okay…it happens to the best of us.  Let’s put two and two together.  Dancers coming back from summer vacation need shoes, tights, leotards, skirts, warm-ups.  You are in need of cash.  It seems like there is a win-win situation brewing here.

The answer is “Mandatory Dress Code”.  Wait!  Don’t say “Ew, THEY won’t like that,” just yet!  Hear me out.  Picture in your mind the mother of a four year old girl who has dreamed of enrolling her daughter in dance class since she was just a baby.  Put yourself in that mom’s shoes.  Try to imagine what the mother perceives as the ideal dance class.  In almost all cases, moms imagine their dancer in a ballet class with a black or pink leotard, pink tights, ballet shoes, hair neatly in a bun with a professional looking dance instructor leading the way.  In almost no case does a mom picture a frumpy instructor in sweatpants holding a latte with 8 or 9 kids in all sorts of different clothes running around in disarray.

Yes, 2% (maybe 4 or 5% in this case) of your customers won’t like the idea of a dress code because they won’t like the idea of anything ever.  96% or so won’t have a problem with it.  Your reputation in the community will immediately become one of professionalism and seriousness, which is what you want when you are handling people’s children.

I’m going to tell you the dance industry’s dirtiest word now.  Hold on to your leotards!  It’s P-R-O-F-I-T.

Before I tell you how to earn more PROFIT, I’ll share with you the two most important aspects of running your dance school.

  1. Profit -  A lot of studio owners I’ve talked to over the years equate profit with a perceived disregard for dancer’s and their parent’s feelings.  Studio owners feel uncomfortable with both their customer’s perceptions of “making money” off of children and their very own feelings about making money.  That’s understandable because you are living in two worlds.  The world where a very large percentage of children’s activities such as soccer, softball, after school programs and public school are non-profit organizations where the cost to the parent is minimal.  The world you as a studio owner are living in; however, is the world of business because you own the risk associated with having a dance school.  Without profit you can’t pay yourself, your staff, your electric bill, your phone bill, your marketing expenses, your rent.  Without profit, you are not a business and your business will fail.  Become comfortable with being a real business owner and employer with a lease and create profit to ensure your business lives.

2.  Your vision.  You and only you can decide what your vision is for your studio.  You must have excellent training, an amazing curriculum, exciting choreography and the passion to continue day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year.  Your vision should be the rock that you live on.  For example: Tiffany’s vision is to train dancers in a “triple track program” that will serve them well on any audition they attend after they graduate high school.  This means, intensive ballet for 5+ hours per week along with jazz, tap and even hip-hop.  She trains versatile, employable dancers and she doesn’t care if she has 500 or 1.  It’s her philosophy.  This philosophy and stability has resulted in an enrollment of over 4,000 and seven studios.  If people like your vision, they will flock to you in droves.

Notice how PROFIT is still the most important part of the equation?

It means that even with an amazing vision, you must still earn more money than you spend.

Here’s one way to increase your profit without spending a penny.   It’s also possible to earn a massive profit on dress code items (about $100 per student per class per season) without wasting your money on inventory or running a boutique in your studio.  Remember: waste not, want not.  If you’re doing the math, that’s 200 students x $100 = $20,000 extra PROFIT per season.

Implement a mandatory dress code via an online service.  Check out the following companies and go with one of them…today.

Storefront by CostumeManager.com

Discount Dance Supply’s Dance Teacher Program

Curtain Call for Class

Revolution Tap Tap – coming soon

Full disclosure: I founded CostumeManager.com in 2007.  I did it for Tiffany and for all studio owners and their instructors to make their lives easier and their businesses more profitable.

Have a great and PROFITABLE summer!

Paul Henderson

Paul Henderson

About Paul Henderson
Paul Henderson is an expert on administrative technologies for the dance industry and has been around the business for almost 30 years. His sisters were elite state champion gymnasts and dancers and his mother owned a dance studio and eventually a dancewear store. He managed the dancewear store for a few years before moving to the San Francisco Bay Area. He and his wife, Tiffany, currently own and operate Twinkle Star Dance™ – an online choreography and curriculum system for recreational dancers ages 2-11; seven successful dance studios in Northern California (www.tiffanydance.com) and one in Southern California. Tiffany’s Dance Academy’s annual enrollment of over 4,500 students caused Paul to invent ways to automate most of the day-to-day business transactions that take up so much of a studio owner/instructor’s time. Paul’s goal has always been to smooth out the business side of the dance studios so that his wife can spend more time in the studio doing what she loves…teaching. Automating online registration and monthly automatic tuition payments was achieved eight years ago but perhaps the most revolutionary invention is his web-based application – CostumeManager.com.

About CostumeManager.com
For the past six years, Paul Henderson has worked tirelessly with most of the major costume and dancewear manufacturers to consolidate their catalogs into one searchable website. Developing relationships with these companies has been crucial to the success of CostumeManager.com and his efforts have paid off for studios all across the United States and Canada. By creating one searchable website, it is possible for a studio owner to browse all catalogs simultaneously, assign items that they like to a dance class, establish their profit margin, create an online store or print a color worksheet for dancers explaining how they can order their required and or/optional items online or via toll free telephone. Dancers purchase their items securely online and CostumeManager.com orders, receives, sorts and ships the individually packaged items to the studio owner. The studio owner or instructor cashes their “commission” check, hands the bags of goods to the dancer and goes back to teaching. CostumeManager.com eliminates 90% of the work and all the worry associated with distributing costumes and dancewear to dancers while preserving all of the profit margin…if not more.

To connect with Paul Henderson and CostumeManager visit www.CostumeManager.com, www.TwinkleStarDance.com, or www.TiffanyDance.com.

Photo (top): © Photographerlondon | Dreamstime.com

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