Every year at our Dance Teacher Summit, a crew of experienced studio owners act as ambassadors, leading seminars throughout the event and chatting with teachers at a booth in the exhibit hall. When DT spoke with ambassador Tiffany Henderson, owner/director of Tiffany’s Dance Studio, she shared memorable moments and useful info she gleaned from her Summit experience:
San Francisco Bay Area and Orange County, CA
Number of locations: 7
Total number of students: 3,000
Number of students in a performance company: 300
Dance Teacher: What was your favorite moment from the Summit?
Tiffany Henderson: Luigi’s class was a once in a lifetime opportunity. It’s so important that we always remember where everything we’re doing now came from, and show respect for those who came before us.
DT: Did you bring anything you heard at the Summit back to your studio?
TH: In the Studio Owners Session, we brainstormed ideas for out-of-the-box marketing strategies. When I got back, I started hosting monthly Princess Tea Parties for 3- to 6-year-olds. Enrolled students can attend for free if they bring a friend who’s not enrolled. In our first month, we had 20 kids attend tea parties at each of our seven locations, and we had three to five new kids register at each studio. That was really valuable.
TH: I’d noticed at the 2010 Summit that, no matter what a seminar topic was, teachers always ended up focusing on competition. But we shouldn’t forget about the kids who are really feeding our business: the recreational dancers. It’s important to make them feel valued and make sure that the whole studio isn’t centered on competition. It’s not great when students walk in, and all they see is trophies, or when your whole newsletter focuses on the last competition. Out of 3,000 students at my studio, only 10 percent are competitive.
TH: I love that conventions are not just about the competition, but about getting into class with kids from other studios. No matter what happens in competition on Friday or Saturday night, you get up the next morning and you go back to class.
We take close to 200 dancers to conventions, starting when they’re 6. The little guys may go into a class and only get one step, but they always come back to the studio stronger dancers due to the energy and inspiration from the weekend. —Rachel Zar
JUMP photo by Donna Matsu; headshot by Jeff Firestone; all photos courtesy of Tiffany Henderson
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.