Happy 2024, studio owners – have you solidified your studio’s schedule for the year yet? Fitting in all the performance opportunities, educational workshops and industry events can feel overwhelming to say the least. But what if you could fit it all into one fun trip? Melise Harris, Senior Travel Manager at 42nd Street Tours, has you covered.
42nd Street Tours offers dance tours year-round, spanning all seasons. Studios can book family-vacation-style, dance-centric trips that offer performance, education and industry opportunities for their students. From New York to Hawaii, you can choose your own adventure. Factors that go into deciding where to go and when include crowds, weather, off-season pricing, and (of course) what attractions and events are happening at any given time.
“A lot of our tours are year-round,” says Harris. “For example, Hawaii. Typically, we see people there in the summer, but the weather is so temperate year-round that a January trip to Hawaii works perfectly. And then of course, there’s California; we offer Disneyland and Universal Hollywood trips. You’ve got that perfect temperature any time of year; you can’t go wrong.”
She adds, “But with somewhere like Disney World, you might want to shoot for the summer. Spring Break is a very busy time in the Disney Parks and if you can avoid the Spring Break rates and crowds, that is always a plus. Those times tend to be more challenging. There are bigger crowds, and big schools are in attendance with bands and choirs. We’re your travel agent and we’re on your side. We’re going to do whatever you want to do, but our goal is to inform you the best that we can based on our extensive experience.”
Harris notes that “although the snow there is very pretty,” if your studio travels to New York City in the winter, you’re going to be looking less at performance opportunities and more at educational options, like seeing Broadway shows and the Rockettes as a firsthand, in-person experience. “There’s a lot that we can plan in a New York tour that revolves around education. Everyone loves Christmas in New York. The decorations, the shopping and especially attending a Rockette workshop. But if it’s a performance that your students are looking to do in New York, then stay away from January, February and March.”
Harris continues, “We also have a tour that goes to the Pigeon Forge Dollywood area. That one is great in the summertime, but I really love it in early fall when you get those gorgeous tree changes and the crisp fall air in the mountains. It also tends to be a little less crowded and a little less warm than in the summertime, so you’ll see lower pricing on your rates. It’s especially accessible to schools who are able to drive to that area, saving on airfare costs.”
When picking where you want to take your students, Harris suggests considering a few key questions. “You really want to ask yourself, ‘What is it I want my students to experience? What dance education do I want them to have? What performance opportunities do I want them to have?’” Exposing your students to the career opportunities that are out there, making those dreams tangible, can have a huge impact on a young dancer’s trajectory.
Exposure to the wider dance industry can also help bring perspective and offer a different experience for students who are deeply involved in exams or competitions. “Some of the time, our studios are experiencing frustrations with competitions,” says Harris. “Students may come away with a result they are disappointed in. Whereas a dance tour,” especially one with a focus on performance, “is exposé central – it’s about showing off what you can do. They always come away from that experience with joy, remembering why they love dancing. A lot of our studios will alternate between competing one year and touring the next.”
Not to mention that dance tours tend to create a buzz. “Students and families talk about those experiences from year to year,” Harris notes. “A lot of my studios have found that it helps build retention. Students will stay with the same studio to have the opportunity to tour again. Students around town will want to join that studio just so that they can travel to New York with them. It builds excitement behind the studio, and sets you apart.”
So, ready to get going? Harris has some final travel tips. “Begin planning sooner than you think. While we certainly can plan tours in four months, it tends to be a lot easier on everyone (studio owners, attending families and ourselves included) to have a full year of planning, budgeting and payment plans. Most tours can be planned in eight to 12 months, but tours like Hawaii usually take a year-and-a-half to plan. If you’re considering doing a tour in 2025, you’ve got to start thinking about it now.”
For more information on 42nd Street Tours and to book your next dance tour for your studio – in any season – visit www.42ndstreettours.com.
By Holly LaRoche of Dance Informa.