As we put together our annual studio business issue, a theme began to emerge. Not only did it seem the biggest challenges faced by studio owners were caused by things they couldn’t plan for, it was often a matter of not knowing the right questions to ask. Sound familiar?

 

In this issue these resilient entreprenuers tell how they solved problems or simply faced up to a new reality with grace and determination.

 

- In “Creating the Dream Studio," we’ll give you the questions four studio owners wished they’d asked when renovating space. It will help you troubleshoot for your next building project.

 

- In “Surviving the Storm," you’ll read about studio directors who learned they could overcome famine, flood and fire—with the help of their communities.
l And in “Built to Last," you’ll meet the charming Blackstones, who’ve grown (and changed!) as businesspeople over 30 years. They literally danced their way into our hearts the rainy afternoon we visited Denise Daniele Dance Studio in southern New Jersey.

 

If you enjoy these stories, I invite you to attend the Dance Teacher Summit, July 27–29, when studio owners and teachers will gather in New York City to share best practices and inspiration. Talk about community! All year, you work hard, often on your own, to make everything happen. Imagine what takes place when 1,600 people just like you come together. It’s pretty incredible. www.danceteachersummit.com

 

In the meantime, I’d love to hear what’s on your mind. Write to me at khildebrand@dancemedia.com or “like” Dance Teacher on Facebook.


 

The Feldenkrais Method is a somatic technique created by Moshe Feldenkrais in the 1950s. The method has two parts: hands-on sessions with a Feldenkrais teacher (Functional Integration) or group classes comprised of verbal cues (Awareness Through Movement).

Mary Armentrout, a dance teacher, choreographer and Feldenkrais practitioner, shares three ways that this somatic practice can bolster your students' training.

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Your Studio

Oversexualizing young kids has been a hot topic among dance teachers in recent years. It's arguably the most controversial topic teachers and studio owners are faced with. Deciding which choreography, music or costumes are appropriate—or not—isn't always black and white and can be easily overlooked. Is showing the midriff too much for minis? Is this choreography too provocative? Is this popular song too suggestive for a competition piece? The questions can seem endless with no clear objective answers. Until now.

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With a career spanning 30-plus years in the dance field, Anneliese Burns Wilson has cultivated a unique perspective on health and injury prevention for dancers. From teaching ballet to teaching anatomy, she then founded ABC for Dance, which publishes dance-teaching materials. Now through research for her next book, which will focus on training the female adolescent dancer, she's delving even deeper into topics many dance teachers have overlooked.

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Erdmann (left) on set for "Hairspray Live" (courtesy of Erdmann)

When Wicked ensemble member Kelli Erdman was training at Westlake Dance Center in Seattle, Washington, her teacher Kirsten Cooper taught her that focussed transitions would be pivotal to her success as a dancer. Now as a professional, she applies this advice to her daily performances, asserting that she will never let the details of her dancing get blurry.

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Khobdeh dancing Taylor's Speaking In Tongues. Photo courtesy of PTDC

For Parisa Khobdeh, music does more than set the tone for a piece—it's enabled her to connect with movement. And once she joined Paul Taylor Dance Company in 2003, Taylor's body of work deepened this connection. "His choreography showed me the music, the architecture and the space," she says. "I now see the music."

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Dance Buzz

We haven't been able to stop watching Lil' Mushroom since she popped and locked her way into Ellen's heart last week. We know you've got a long night of teaching ahead, and this is the dance inspiration you need to get you through. Check it out and tell us what you think about her killer moves over on our Facebook page! (She starts blowing minds at about 2:16.)

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How-To

Because the chassé is often neglected during the execution of this traveling step, Judy Rice asks her students to do a minimum of a six-inch chassé before transitioning into the pas de bourrée. She encourages dancers to pay close attention to their shoulders and hips in effacé, too. "Kids tend to open it up. They look like they're fencing," she says. "You don't want that." Both shoulders and hip bones should be facing the corner.

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