It's August It's hot. Your dancers are tired—and so are you. You're back from Nationals, and though you'd love some time off, it's never too soon to start planning for the fall competition season. Here's how five studio owners make this month productive.
“After Nationals, we transition right into the summer intensive and take time to reorganize all the levels and groups, taking into account any new students. Additional
private lessons are given to students who need time to adjust to the expectations of the studio, so as not to overwhelm them when classes start up in the fall. My teachers and I focus on building the weaker groups and challenging our stronger students to improve even further.”
—Kelly Burke, Westchester Dance Academy
“The main thing on my mind at the start of the comp season is choreography. By the time I select my dancers for the upcoming season, I want to make sure I have ideas and concepts for new pieces that will challenge them artistically and technically.”
—Lizzie Mackenzie, Extensions Dance Company
“The first thing we do after Nationals is clean our studio. After a busy season it’s usually a mess. We touch up the paint and give the carpet a good cleaning. We sort through props, throw away those we don’t need and plan our costumes for the new year. After seeing some great routines, costumes and concepts at Nationals, the teachers meet and discuss ideas. We also hold training classes and exams for all our assistant helpers, and we have a big picnic for all the team members, so that everyone can meet the newbies.”
—Anne Kramer, Dance Etc.
“It’s OK to take a vacation after Nationals. I spend a week without thinking about dance. Just one week, and then it’s back to work.”
—Kandee Allen, Dance Impressions
“When the new year begins, I focus on group placement, watching for dancers who have solo potential, and evaluate the dynamics and chemistry of the dancers. Our first competition of the year is early—in November—and we make sure we have 18–20 routines ready to compete then. An early date on the calendar energizes the dancers quickly and helps build the new team.”
Steppin' Out—The Studio
Photo courtesy of Westchester Dance Academy
Starting this Saturday, the Children's Museum of Manhattan on the Upper West Side will have an interactive dance exhibit called "Let's Dance!" Basically every facet of dance is featured in the exhibit: kids can explore lighting design with a special child-friendly lighting box; choreograph with the use of props, signs and costumes; create accompaniment with percussion instruments; manipulate posable figures; see incredible dance photography and video; and, best of all, interact with the dance portal, where they can watch, learn and interact with professional and student dance companies like Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Dancing Classrooms, Mark Morris Dance Group and Martha Graham Dance Company. Whew. That's a LOT of great stuff.
Kathleen Kelbe, Pembroke School of Performing Arts | Pembroke, MA
Total budget: $100,000
Project timeline: 3 months (ongoing)
Kelbe expanded from 1,600 to 6,000 square feet. She used Rosco's SubFloor and Adagio vinyl and broke her extensive renovation into three phases.
Ellen Marshall, Off Broadway Dance Center | Fulton, NY
Total budget: $60,000
Project timeline: 3 months
Marshall renovated a Methodist church into a 4,000-square-foot studio, with Stagestep Flooring Solutions' marbleized gray Timestep in her two studios.
Diana Griffin, Fusion Dance Company | Palm Harbor, FL
Total budget: $40,000
Project timeline: 45 days
From restaurant to studio! The checkerboard ceilings were a restaurant leftover that Griffin decided to keep. Her O'Mara sprung floors were self-installed in her 7,000-square-foot space.
Barclay Gibbs, Dance Conservatory of Maryland | Bel Air, MD
Total budget: $10,000
Project timeline: 2 days
Gibbs chose Gerstung Floor Systems' AirBase 600 for her 2,000-square-foot studio. This semi-permanent flooring will travel with her, should she change locations in the future.
Nigel Burgoine, Ballet Theatre of Toledo | Toledo, OH
Total budget: $4,000
Project timeline: 1 day
In her work as director of physical therapy for New York City Ballet, Marika Molnar relies on tools like bands, balls and Pilates equipment to rehabilitate and strengthen dancers. She says there's a place for such tools in daily dance classes, as well. Resistance and stability tools can help students develop strength and even break bad habits. "Say someone is compensating because of a weakness or restriction—that's what they're always going to do," she says, even after a teacher corrects them repeatedly. "If you give them something that makes things a little unfamiliar, their brain has to participate more. It becomes not only a physical exercise but a cognitive one." The dancer learns in a new way, and improves.
Molnar has collaborated with Pilates expert Joan Breibart and PTs at Westside Dance Physical Therapy to create a series of tools and exercises with dancers' training and recovery needs in mind. Here, she shares three of her favorites.
Christy Wolverton had a student who often either missed class or seemed to be sick. "When you're in our pre-professional company, attendance is huge," says Wolverton, owner and director of Dance Industry Performing Arts Center in Plano, Texas. She tried to be patient with the dancer and communicate with her parents to get a better idea of what was going on at home. "When she was diagnosed with a serious illness," she says, "we were relieved that we didn't come down on her for something that wasn't her fault."
Laura Glenn can still remember the excitement she felt watching the Limón Dance Company perform at Central Park in the summer of 1962. "I turned to the person next to me and whispered, 'He's going to be my teacher!'" she says. Two weeks later, she started as a Juilliard freshman, where she indeed studied under the legendary José Limón before joining his company in her second year.