Archive | Tips & Advice

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 |

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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.


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.


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.


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.


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 |

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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 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 |

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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 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

Discount Dance Supply’s Dance Teacher Program

Curtain Call for Class

Revolution Tap Tap – coming soon

Full disclosure: I founded 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 ( 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 –

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 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 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. 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,, or

Photo (top): © Photographerlondon |

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The Rising Cost of NYC Dance Classes – And The Best Ways to Save!

The Rising Cost of NYC Dance Classes – And The Best Ways to Save!

By Mary Callahan of Dance Informa.

“Back in my day,” explained my teacher, “we would take four to five classes a day. But with your generation of dancers… you don’t seem to have that same drive.”

As much as I wanted to refute my teacher, I knowingly held my tongue. Alas, gone are the glorious days of six-dollar dance classes. But instead of making this excuse, I decided to prove my drive by figuring out how I could take more class without breaking the bank.

With both residential and commercial rent in Manhattan steadily skyrocketing, it was inevitable that the price of dance classes would bump up as well. New York City’s top dance studios offer classes hovering around $20. And for the hardworking student or struggling performer, that’s quite a pretty penny.

But don’t despair! Dance Informa has researched six different ways that you can take dance class without blowing your budget. Find out which option works best for you.

1) Make a plan.

Most of Manhattan’s premier dance studios offer drop-in classes rather than the recurring, binding schedule of a dance school. However, instead of paying for a single class for, say, $20, you can often purchase a class package of five, 10 or 20 classes at a slightly discounted rate. The expiration date to complete your classes will depend on the size of your class package—so be sure to plan out your schedule so you don’t waste any pre-paid classes.

2) Use what you’ve got.

Are you a member of a union? Perhaps AEA, AGVA, AGMA, SAG/AFTRA, CAEA or SDC? Present your union card when you check in for class and get a one or two-dollar discount. You worked hard to get in that union, so don’t miss out on the benefits!

3) Work for it.

Dance studios often offer work-study positions for diligent students. Whether checking in dancers at the front desk, answering phones, selling merchandise or cleaning during the night shift, work-study students receive significantly discounted dance classes in return for their weekly duties at the studio. Because the class rate is so affordable (usually around five dollars per class), work-study programs are usually highly competitive. If you can dedicate the extra time and energy to a work-study position, express your interest to your studio manager and fill out an application.

4) Talk to a mentor.

Teachers are usually able to “guest” a couple of students into their classes with permission of the studio. If you have a dance teacher that you take class from several times a week, consider asking them if you can occasionally “guest” into their class. If your teacher cannot “guest” you in, chances are that they will help you find another way to pay for class.

5) Look beyond.

There are thousands of dance classes offered in New York City—and most are right under your nose. To save a few bucks, look beyond the “big name” studios for classes offered at “rent-a-room” studio spaces, local colleges and community arts facilities. You might be surprised to find some of your favorite teachers (in less-crowded classes) teaching at these locations.

6) Think teamwork.

Get together with a group of friends and trade off teaching a class each week. All you have to do is pitch in to pay for an hour or two’s worth of studio space (around $100 total). You’ll get to collaborate and challenge yourselves in a safe environment and you’ll also build teaching experience (i.e. leading a thorough warm-up, assisting students, creating choreography, etc.)

Photo (top): © Robertprzybysz |

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MOTION: A NEW view on an OLD problem

MOTION: A NEW view on an OLD problem

For those of you that haven’t heard, MOTION by TigerSix is the new dance studio management software for the industry. MOTION was designed to solve the specific “pain-points” of running and managing a dance studio. The team at TigerSix worked directly with studio owners, teachers and the leaders in the dance industry (Dance Teacher Web, Discount Dance Supply, Dance Informa, TuTuTix, to name a few) to develop a software solution designed specifically for the dance studio owner.

When you look at how the typical studio owner manages their studio, some use software, some use Word or Excel and some just do it the old fashioned way, using paper! Now add to the list, managing and updating their website, keeping up with social media and on top of all that, trying to communicate with their parents! How do they juggle it all? And how do they effectively communicate with the parents? Most use a free email service like Gmail or some enlist the help of a parent to re-text information to the class. As if that wasn’t enough, now consider recital season. This involves taking measurements, ordering costumes, coordinating a conflict-free performance order and then actually running the annual recital!

MOTION was designed to incorporate all of these components into one software package and give the studio owner a centralized means of managing all of their technology from one package and any location: the studio, home, tablet or smart phone.

MOTION powered by TigerSixWhen TigerSix looked at the users and the amount of time they had to dedicate to managing their studio, they realized that the software had to be simple to use and most importantly, fast. Most owners do not have set time for managing; they grab hours in-between classes and their personal life. They do not have a lot of time set aside for learning and installing new software, so TigerSix needed to make it simple to learn and simple to set up.

TigerSix’s research showed that the studio owner doesn’t keep banker’s hours. They need support on a moment’s notice at all hours of the day or night. So it was important to give them an account manager and a support infrastructure that would be responsive to the owners needs on their timetable. Therefore, every MOTION customer has the cell phone number of his or her dedicated account manager.

The most impressive thing about MOTION is it’s polymorphic nature. MOTION’s design and features are the result of the current users requests for new services and features. As a user of MOTION, you get to request new features that help you deal with a specific “pain point” in managing your studio. This procedure ensures that MOTION evolves based on the need of the studio owner and not the need to try and make it fit into a health spa application. 

For a free demonstration of the MOTION software or to find out what differentiates MOTION from other software management programs, visit or call 888-910-8060 to speak to a Dance Studio Software Guru.

Photo (top): © Chupacabra47 |

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Michael Spencer Phillips: A Story of Injury, Recovery and Inspiration

Michael Spencer Phillips: A Story of Injury, Recovery and Inspiration

By Laura Di Orio of Dance Informa.

Michael Spencer Phillips embodies inspiration. As a dancer, he is disciplined, strong at heart and in the body, and passionate. As a dancer who suffered a massive injury that led doctors to believe he would never walk normally again, but who, 11 months later, returned to the stage, Phillips seems almost otherworldly. The RIOULT Dance NY member is now gearing up for the company’s 20th anniversary season at the Joyce Theater, and he says he is dancing better than ever.

During his time of recovery, Phillips pushed himself – mentally and physically – but he did it in a way that, for his nature, seemed necessary. Not once during his journey did Phillips doubt he would perform again. He accepted his situation, committed himself to full recovery and now shares his incredible story that will surely inspire all.

In October of 2012, RIOULT Dance NY was in Florida performing at the University of Florida’s Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. Phillips, who has been with the company for 12 years, was dancing in On Distant Shores, a layered and physically demanding piece for four men and one woman. During one section, Phillips took off for a jump, when he suddenly heard and felt what he says was the worst pain of his life. In that flash of a moment, several thoughts raced through his mind: “Is this the end of my career?” “How do I get off stage?” “I’m not going to be able to go on our upcoming tour to Germany.” “What is going to happen to the remainder of this piece? The rest of the program?” “Can I move?”

With movement fitting with the piece, Phillips lunged and shifted himself off stage. Another dancer threw on the costume to finish Phillips’ role, and for the company’s last work on the program, Bolero, they performed it with seven dancers instead of eight. Phillips remained on the sidelines, with a good friend and fellow company member, Marianna Tsartolia, who rubbed Phillips’ face and told him it would be okay.

Michael Spencer Phillips

Michael Spencer Phillips. Photo by Rachel Neville.

The following morning, Phillips saw an orthopedist at the University of Florida, but since he wouldn’t be Phillips’ long-term doctor, he couldn’t prescribe anything for the pain. The company flew back to NYC that day, October 26, 2012. Phillips was in a wheelchair. Friends carried him up five flights of stairs to his apartment, and he made an appointment to see Dr. David Weiss first thing after the weekend.

But then Hurricane Sandy struck. Subways were not running, people were stranded at home, and the New York University Hospital was flooded. Phillips would be unable to see his doctor or get a diagnosis for 10 days, and during this time he had to live with the immense pain.

Meanwhile, RIOULT had to prepare for the company’s German tour in two weeks. An apprentice had to go into Phillips’ parts, other dancers had to fill in any gaps, and Phillips felt terrible for the burden he felt he had left on the company.

“All you can think of is how it is affecting everyone else, wishing they weren’t having to rehearse so hard before a tour,” he says. “Touring is hard enough without having to dance new parts and partner with new partners.”

The physical pain, too, was wearing on Phillips. “I really could not move the leg or weight bear much,” he recalls. “I didn’t have much stability or strength with that leg. It was like it wasn’t mine. I couldn’t really control it, and it was so painful to stand, sit, you name it. It hurt.”

Finally, he was able to see Dr. Weiss, who saw the immense bruising to the leg, hip and abdomen and said it was unlike anything he had seen before. After x-rays and an MRI, the injury was diagnosed: Phillips had torn the adductor from his pelvic bone. The adductor was intact, but with it came some of the bone, and together they retracted down the inside of his leg and left a hole in his pelvic bone. Phillips had also torn the labrum and had micro-tears and strains to the abdominus rectus and the fascial tissue of the abdominals.

Weiss consulted with other doctors, but none had seen another dancer who had suffered that severe of a hip injury. Due to the amount of time that had lapsed since the injury, Phillips had to face the possibility that surgeons would not be able to get to the adductor and the chance he may never be able to walk normally again.

“It scared the heck out of me,” Phillips admits. “I know that with any surgery there are risks. As a dancer, these seemed like big ones, though. I had so many things that went wrong at the same time that we had no idea if surgery was going to be successful.”

Michael Spencer Phillips

Michael Spencer Phillips. Photo by Rachel Neville.

Weiss recommended Phillips go see Dr. Srino Bharam, a hip specialist who trained under one of the best hip doctors in the country. Dr. Bharam suggested surgery as soon as possible. He would repair the labral tear, remove the scar tissue from around the adductor, and pull and reattach the adductor with screws and a small plate to the broken pelvic bone. Dr. Bharam would also execute bone resurfacing, a slightly controversial technique that would essentially reshape the head of the femur and the socket of the pelvis where it sits. With the shapes of his bones slightly changed, Phillips would have to re-teach his body how those bones moved in the most efficient way. But for Phillips, the advantages of movement potential outweighed what would be a taxing recovery period.

Phillips went in for surgery on December 5, 2012. What was supposed to be a two-hour procedure took seven hours. But it was successful.

Only 12 hours later, Phillips began the recovery process. He started movement therapy with a controlled passive movement machine, a large contraption that held and helped bend and straighten his leg. He also iced for an hour every other hour for the first five days, after which he began post-surgery physical therapy (PT) with Rocky Bornstein at Westside Dance Physical Therapy.

On that first day of PT, just days after Phillips’ leg was essentially opened up and reattached, he was on a stationary bike.

“I kind of rode the bike with a rhythm of a limp at first,” Phillips says. “I only lasted about four minutes on it, but then I realized that it was all going to work out. I would be back and stronger than ever. It would be painful, it would be challenging, but it would be the most dramatic, life-changing and character-building experience of my entire life.”

For four months, Phillips’ PT routine was about six to eight hours a day. During the first eight weeks, he used crutches to get to and from PT and the gym, where he biked, swam (upper body only), walked, used the treadmill, did Pilates, used weights, TheraBands, silks, balance boards, and did hundreds of exercises for every part of the leg and core.

Soon, he started doing ballet barre in the pool, then he did barre outside the pool, and soon enough, in April of 2013, Phillips went back to ballet class with his teacher, Christine Wright.

“I would do a little more each day,” he says. “If there were exercises I couldn’t do yet, I would learn the exercise and do just the port de bras and visualize myself doing it. Once I could move more, but still not jump or shift weight well, I would try and do the combinations small in the back.”

By summer, Phillips was dancing more and more. On September 16, 2013, he returned to rehearsal. By the middle of October, he performed again for the first time! He started with only one piece and added on more repertory slowly. And now, Phillips is back dancing in almost everything he was before!

Now, Phillips will join RIOULT in the company’s 20th anniversary season at the Joyce from June 17-22. “I am featured in some of the work this season,” he says. “It is a huge honor. I’m just so grateful to be a part of it and to be back home on stage with my dance family.”

Perhaps the key to Phillips’ incredibly quick return to the stage was his attitude. Never once did he ask, “Why me?” Instead, he accepted his fate and reacted with resilience and determination.

“I spoke to a panel of doctors at the University of Michigan in April of 2013,” he recalls. “They told me about athletes who were still rehashing what had happened six and eight months after an injury. They were still doing their PT but weren’t recovering quickly, and these athletes were more than 15 years younger than me. I never did the asking of the questions after that first week. It didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was getting back in the studio and back on stage. That’s where I feel I belong.”

“Six months after my surgery, I was already dancing in class,” Phillips continues. “Eight months after surgery, I was teaching and choreographing. Those athletes were still asking, ‘Why?’ Ten months, back to work full-time and putting in six-hour days of dancing. Eleven months, back to performing. Now, back to back. Dancing more efficiently and smarter and cleaner and with more passion and love for it than ever before. It is fleeting. We cannot be performers forever, but we are dancers. If anyone is going to push it to the limits, it will be us. No one has the discipline of dancers. No one. I believe that.”

For information about RIOULT Dance NY’s Joyce Theater season visit

Posted in Dance Health, Interviews1 Comment

Making it on Broadway: Stars of ‘Matilda’ & ‘Chicago’ Share Advice

Making it on Broadway: Stars of ‘Matilda’ & ‘Chicago’ Share Advice

By Mary Callahan of Dance Informa.

Do you dream of dancing under the bright lights of Broadway? Would you love to perform in an iconic show like Chicago, or a new hit like Matilda? For many dancers, this is the ultimate dream. Dance Informa sat down with dancers (both rookies and Broadway veterans) who are currently performing on Broadway to hear about their debut experiences and what it really takes to make it in musical theatre. Here two of the dancers share their insights and advice:

Matilda performer Heather Tepe

Heather Tepe

Heather Tepe (Matilda)

What was your first Broadway show?

“My first Broadway show was Gypsy with Bernadette Peters.”

What was the audition like?

“I auditioned for Gypsy around 11 years ago now, but I still vividly remember two specific calls. I remember being called back for my first dance call where about 30 little girls, including myself, learned a combination from the show. We got split up into small groups and had to perform it multiple times. I also remember there being a camera crew videoing some of the audition and taping one girl in particular. I was convinced she was going to get the part. I also have a distinct memory of my final callback where it was between one other girl and myself. Each of us had to go into the room by ourselves multiple times to sing and dance, switching on and off.”

How is working on Broadway different from other performance experiences you’ve had in the past?

“I’d say working on Broadway isn’t much different from working or putting up a show elsewhere. I’ve put up many high school and camp productions where we followed the same steps when putting a show together.”

What was your dance training like growing up?

“I trained at a dance studio in my hometown. I’d take two or three classes every day after school Monday-Friday. I trained in ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, acro, hip-hop and modern. On the weekends, we rehearsed competition numbers and sometimes studied privately.”

What inspired you to become a Broadway performer?

“I always loved performing but the Broadway performances on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is what really inspired me. I remember watching the performances at a very young age and wanting nothing but to be in the shows that were performing.”

What advice would you have for young dancers who aspire to perform on the Broadway stage?

“I’d say NEVER give up. It really can take years and years of auditioning and training. The second you give up the game is over. Keep playing and you will win!”

Chicago performer Ryan Worsing

Ryan Worsing

Ryan Worsing (Chicago)

What was your first Broadway show?

“My first Broadway show was Shrek the Musical. About four months after the show opened on Broadway, they were looking to add another male swing to the company, and I got the job!”

What was the audition like?

“Of course I remember the audition! I had made it to final callbacks for one of the ensemble tracks when they were casting the Seattle tryout of the show. I remember that round of auditions being a very positive experience, especially in my connection to choreographer Josh Prince and his associate Sloan Just. I assumed that if I’d made it that far in the process that there was some interest in me. So when I saw the next casting notice for an open call, I knew I should go back in.

We danced a section of the very precise, comical “What’s Up, Duloc?” and the skeleton routine from “Donkey Pot Pie,” and sang two songs of contrasting style. Again, I felt a great connection with the creative team that day and was ecstatic when my agent called me on a Saturday afternoon with a Tuesday callback for the show onstage at the Broadway Theater! I went to read scenes for Director Jason Moore and Stage Manager Peter Lawrence, headed down to wardrobe to try on a few costumes and walked out of the theater with an offer to start on Friday!”

How is working on Broadway different from other performance experiences you’ve had in the past?

“Every job is different, whether it’s a Broadway show, a regional production, an out-of-town premiere, summer stock, workshop, etc. There are joys and frustrations specific to each project, whether you’re performing in midtown Manhattan or anywhere else. That being said, my dream since age three was to perform on Broadway, and the joy of getting to live my dream doesn’t escape me.”

What was your dance training like growing up?

“Growing up, I always loved performing, but I didn’t start dancing until I enrolled for my first tap class when I was 10. And I never looked back. I was very fortunate to train at Miller-Marley School of Dance and Voice in Overland Park, Kansas, which has turned out numerous talented and dedicated Broadway performers for many years. Presently, there are three alums from the studio performing on 49th Street alone (two in Chicago, one in The Book of Mormon)! The incredible discipline and opportunities Miller-Marley and the KC theatrical community provided were incredible springboards for New York and the business.”

What inspired you to become a Broadway performer?

“I grew up loving the Disney movie-musicals, The Wizard of Oz (I am from Kansas!), and the Mary Martin TV version of Peter Pan. I used to sing with a fake mic on the front of the fireplace and put on shows with the neighbor kids. As long as I can remember, I was inspired to be a Broadway performer.”

What advice would you have for young dancers who aspire to perform on the Broadway stage?

“If you love performing and want it more than anything else in the world, stay persistent. It’s never easy. There are highs and lows for every performer. But if you really want it, it’s worth it.”

To hear from dancers Brittany Marcin Maschmeyer (Bullets Over Broadway) and Brandt Martinez (Aladdin) check out the April edition’s Making it On Broadway feature.

To hear from dancers Kristin Piro (Rocky) and Nick Spangler (The Book of Mormon) check out last edition’s Making it On Broadway feature.

Photo (top):  Chicago, the longest-running American musical in Broadway history, at the Ambassador Theater, in New York. Photo taken on April 19th, 2014.  © Bigapplestock |

Posted in Feature Articles, Tips & Advice0 Comments

High Energy Snacks for Your Young Dancer

High Energy Snacks for Your Young Dancer

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

As a mom and a nutritionist I am all too aware of studies showing snacks contribute to better concentration, better memory recall, and help kids stay on task1,2.  Students who have regularly scheduled snacks and who don’t go for more than 3 hours without eating, even something small, have decreased anxiety and were reported to be more happy and alert1,2.  I see it in my own kids, but it really hits home to me as a ballet teacher when I have a group of kids late in the afternoon and some of them are clearly fatigued or out of sorts.  An informal poll of my young ballet students showed me that several of them don’t eat anything at all between lunch time and ballet class which can start as late as 5:45pm.  Their concentration, attitude, and motivation are clearly impacted. Take the time to work with your kids to plan and shop for healthy snacks so that they are quick and available at home to grab and go or throw in a dance bag the night before.  Let your kids pick out fruits and veggies at the store and engage them in washing and food prep.  A little planning can make a big difference in your child’s dance class experience.

Another concern is added ingredients. Certain ingredients in foods such as dyes, artificial flavors, additives, and preservatives like sodium benzoate have been shown to affect hyperactivity, concentration and mood3.   With these and renewed concerns over genetically modified foods affecting developing children, it’s not just sugar that is the villain anymore.  As a busy parent myself, I understand all too well how challenging healthy snacks can be so here are some ideas and my dancers’ favorite recipe:

Choose complex carbohydrates with low to moderate protein/ fat for a pre-dance snack. Expect a small snack to last 2-3 hours of dancing. If your dancer is going to be at the studio longer than that, pack two snacks or a small meal.

  1. 1 banana with 1-2 tbsp peanut butter
  2. 1 cup sweet red pepper slices or carrots with 3 tbsp hummus and some pumpkin seeds
  3. Sunbutter or almond butter and honey sandwich on organic spelt bread
  4. 14 almonds and 1 large apple or 1 cup of grapes
  5. ½  cup granola and non-GMO soy yogurt
  6. Shelled edamame or tofu cubes with rice, veggies and soy sauce (make ahead of time and serve cold)
  7. Hardboiled egg or string cheese with 5-10 whole grain or rice crackers
  8. 6oz low fat yogurt (can substitute for soy or coconut yogurt)
  9. Homemade almond milk smoothie with frozen berries, peaches, and flax seeds. (Make a large batch ahead of time and freeze in small grab and go containers)
  10. Pre-made bar or oatrolls (see below) with fruit, dates, nuts and/or whole grains. (Make a large batch and freeze, then put frozen oatrolls in his/her dance bag in the morning so by the afternoon they are thawed and yummy.)

Many children these days have an intolerance or allergy to dairy and gluten. Registered dietitian Colleen McCarthy RD with On Pointe Nutrition knows firsthand how hard it can be to dance “in a fog of gluten intolerance”.  Here are our recommendations for gluten free/dairy free kids:

  1. Apple salad: apples, walnuts, pecans, raisins
  2. Hummus with brown rice crackers or raw carrots/squash/zucchini/sweet peppers.
  3. Soy/coconut yogurt with flaxseed or chia seeds, fresh blueberries or strawberries and 1tbsp of almond butter- mix it up.
  4. Nut/seed mix: almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, raisins, pecan, brazil nuts, dried pineapple
  5. Banana with almond, cashew, or sunbutter
  6. Coconut water, dark chocolate almond milk or coconut milk
  7. Rice cakes with nut butter and a piece of fruit
  8. Oatmeal with flax seeds or a homemade oatrolls (see recipe)
  9. Popcorn, pumpkin seeds, GF pretzels, and dried fruit trail mix

Easy Almond Oat Energy Rolls
(makes approximately 20 rolls)

  • 2 1/2 cups rolled oats (regular)
  • 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 Tbs. raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 Tbs. honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Grind 1/2 cup oats and 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds in food processor until powdery. Transfer to medium bowl; set aside.

Combine remaining 2 cups oats, remaining 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, raisins, sunflower seeds and cinnamon in large bowl. Stir in almond butter, honey, and vanilla until soft dough forms.

Moisten hands, and roll dough into 1-inch balls. Coat balls in oat-pumpkin seed powder.

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

1. Physiology & Behavior Volume 90, Issues 2-3, 28 February 2007, Pages 382-385
2. A mid-morning snack improves memory but not attention or psychomotor speed in school-age children in India Appetite. Volume 47, Issue 2, September 2006, Page 262

Photo (top): © Guille Faingold |

Posted in Dance Health0 Comments

Studio Owners: This is No Time to Relax!

Studio Owners: This is No Time to Relax!

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin.

By Paul Henderson.

Your end of the season recital is over (or it will be in a matter of weeks), and you’re looking forward to that blissful feeling of accomplishment and pride as yet another successful dance season has passed.

Congratulations on shepherding your flock of students (and their parents) through the trials and tribulations of class after class, rehearsals, competitions, conventions and your annual recital. You’ve conquered the pitfalls along the way, from missing costumes and social media follies to recital ticket snafus and theater crew catastrophes.

Time to party! Time to relax, put your toes in the sand and order another margarita!

Not so fast. A friend of mine was recently explaining how she frequently tells her daughter, “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” I’ve heard that before, but I think it fits perfectly into this time of the year when our defenses are nearly shut down and we really need a break. 

Those of you who can dig a little deeper and surge just one more time will enjoy a more relaxed and profitable 2014-15 season. Before you sail off into the sunset, it’s time to prepare. 

Here are my Top 10 So-You-Can-Sleep Action Items for the summer and next season (and what we are doing at Tiffany’s Dance Academy):

1) Summer Classes and Camps – Keep promoting.
Example: Twinkle Star Dance developed a “Frozen” themed dance camp that we are using. At our seven studios, we have a total of 21 weekly “Frozen” camps with over 400 dancers participating! It’s a bonanza unlike anything we’ve seen in the past five years.
-Frequent emails to past and existing customers
-Social media posts
-Website updates


2) Marketing – Do you have your graphic art designed and your publications selected for your fall session promotions? We are using Val-Pak, Pennysaver, direct mail and a couple of magazine ads in local publications. Book your ads before you board that plane (or maybe while you are on that plane with Wifi!)

3) Registration – What registration specials are you offering? Get the word out!

Back in April, we started with “free registration for one day” (normally $39.) Then we went to “Save $20 on registration” for a few weeks, and later we will go to “Save $10 on registration.” It gives us a reason to email our customers and different coupons to advertise.

4) Dress Code – In this hyper-competitive industry, you’re going to need every penny of profit to compete with the other studios in your area. If you aren’t profiting on your dress code, vow to start right now.

It’s no surprise that at TDA we use’s Storefront and Virtual Dance Boutique to display the products we want our dancers to wear to class and on-stage. It’s a free service and increases our profit per student by $100 per season. No brainer. Here’s an example of our Fremont studio.

5) Winter Show – Consider producing a Winter Holiday performance or Nutcracker project. It will foster loyalty amongst your students, their parents and your faculty and will increase your studio’s net profit.

We will do a Winter Showcase for dancers ages 2-6 and a full Nutcracker. Here is a previous article on the subject.

6) Curriculum – Stop reinventing the wheel. Research available, proven curriculum systems. Here’s an analogy that will help. If you’re a math teacher, you don’t rewrite the math curriculum every year do you?

TDA uses Twinkle Star Dance for curriculum and choreography. It’s proven to increase revenue by $113,000 per season on average.

7) Choreography – Similar to curriculum. Research available choreography options now to get a jump, find inspiration and lower your stress level.  An added bonus is that sometimes choreography plans pair dances with age-appropriate, affordable costume ideas. This can help you avoid the $57,000 Boogie Woogie Piggie.

8) Theater booking – confirm it today.  You never know what might happen to your theater next season. Since we own 7 studios, we use three different theaters and have 23 shows this June.  Those contracts are incredibly important.

9) Summer Learning – Attend a gathering of like-minded professionals. We are attending Dance Teacher Summit and the Twinkle Star Dance User – Rediscover Freedom Conference. The Dance Teacher Web conference is also great and is held in a resort in Las Vegas for a real getaway experience. They all have inspirational and informative content that will motivate and inspire you just when you need it most.

10) Organize – Clean your office and your studio. Give away the trophies. Store the props, costumes and other various recital paraphernalia. Start fresh! It may seem obvious, but de-cluttering will astound your senses and make you infinitely more productive and happier.

 Okay, go knock these out real quick and enjoy your blissful summer vacation. Next month’s article will focus on the importance of Dress Code. Start dreaming of what you want your dancers to wear to class.

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 ( 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 –

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 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 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. 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,, or

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