Summertime is notoriously slow for dance studio owners, but bills don't take a holiday. Learn from three studio owners who figured out how to keep the buzz and cash flowing without breaking a sweat. Their secret formula? Creative summer programming too good for parents to pass up—coupled with quick and easy camps as bonus business builders. Not only do these owners keep their revenue rolling in summer, they use the season to boost enrollment come fall.


Start Summer with a (Revenue) Bang

Jennifer Ness, director of Dance Elite Studio

Seattle, Washington

Summer solution A premium recital package sold at the end of the school year provides a revenue boost to compensate for the leaner summer months ahead.

How it works Recognizing parents felt nickeled and dimed by recital fees and costs by the end of the studio year, Ness decided to package items to offer a better rate, and she sweetened the deal by throwing in free performance tickets. For an all-inclusive $200 fee, families receive four tickets, a DVD of the show, a recital T-shirt and a one-line good luck message in the program. Ness makes a $30–$40 profit on each package, which covers teacher costs for the summer.

To stir up interest, she invites students to come up with the recital's theme; the winner has her or his picture taken. That photo becomes the featured image on the program and a silhouetted illustration for the T-shirt.

Unique selling point Since recital T-shirt designs change yearly, they become collectibles—and walking advertisements. And all recital package participants get red carpet treatment, like reserved seating.

Bonus business builder To pay for summer costs the recital packages don't cover, Ness offers a sampler camp. Held three times during the summer, the two-week camp teaches students a different style of dance every day (ballet, jazz, tap and so on). The camp's variety “captures the little ones' attention and loyalty," says Ness. Attendees get to try new genres in a less intimidating environment, and many add a new class to their dance schedule, come fall. To find her price point, she did a market analysis of other studios and set her fee accordingly. “I know how much parents can pay and how many kids I need in a class to make it work," she says.

It's All in the Scheduling

Tiffany Henderson, owner and director of Tiffany's Dance Academy

Livermore, California, plus eight other locations in the state

Summer solution Students can continue their regular classes through summer (with a flexible makeup policy), rather than signing up for a summer schedule with different teachers.

How it works To be profitable, Henderson knew she had to make the same money in July and August as in any other month. Yet a six-week summer schedule remained only 60 percent full. “I realized people weren't registering for summer, because they wouldn't get their regular teacher," she says. Henderson also figured out that parents were more willing to pay a monthly fee ($67) than a higher, one-time fee ($135) for a one- or two-week summer camp. Students register for summer classes in April, and the new dance season starts July 10. Attendance now reaches up to 70 percent of total studio enrollment.

Unique selling point If students must miss a class, the studio offers a flexible makeup-class system. Parents need only contact the office up to a day before the class, and students can take the makeup class in another style at no additional charge. “With camps, if families are out of town for that specific week, there is no chance of having them register at all," says Henderson.

Promotion The schedule is viewable and open for registration in February; advertising begins in February. After spring break, there's a big registration day online, and fees are discounted, with the deepest reductions the sooner you sign up.

Bonus business builder Camps are still part of the summer mix, and in the 3- to 6-year-old range, they bring in the highest percentage of new students. “Being able to try other genres is great," says Henderson. “The parents see that we keep their kids dancing all year and recognize our commitment to the excellence of their children's dance education." She also uses camps for marketing: For the Princess Tea Party camp, a current student can bring a friend who's new to the studio, and the camp is free to both. “I can have 10 prospective students with 10 regular students," she explains, “and all I have to pay for is the teacher. It's more effective than a mailing."

Parade Your Studio (No, Really)

Cindy Clough, executive director of Just For Kix

Brainerd, Minnesota

Summer solution If your community holds seasonal parades—Fourth of July, for instance—arrange to have your studio appear as a marching group. Clough offers students the chance to participate for a one-time fee and easy level of commitment, and it's a great marketing tool for her studio.

How it works Originally a twirler and now the coach of a high school dance team, Cindy Clough knew a parade would be an easy hit. “The community really likes it," she says, “and it's reinvigorated a tradition that had dropped off." To draw lots of kids, she offers different ways to participate: Students can take a four-week-long class, attending once or twice weekly, or attend three longer sessions, to learn the parade routine. The only downside? It can be hard to get people to commit to a parade date in summer.

To set her prices, Clough uses regular year rates, prorated, as a base and then marks those down slightly. (In some locations, students who attend the four-week class pay $32 total, for instance.) Participants—from 25 to as many as 300—have to buy a T-shirt, but Clough usually provides the simple props.

Marketing value Though the parade's not a big revenue generator, its visibility makes it a great way to get new people in the studio door. “One year I did a beach theme, and each kid brought a beach ball," says Clough. “Coming down the street, it really made an impression." She makes sure to include a banner and van displaying Just For Kix's logo and studio information for easy advertising. “We almost always get a picture in the paper," she says. “One year, we got 18 new students just from them watching the parade."

Promotion Clough gets the word out in January—early enough that families can include the class in their summer plans. “You want people to schedule around you, rather than you around them," she says. Clough advertises via her website, social media, newsletters, e-mails and even flyers.

Bonus business builder In addition to parades, Just For Kix offers monthly camps for each age group (preschoolers and kindergartners) with fun themes: princess, circus, Wild West. “They come to camp wearing their own princess finery and do face painting and make a wand," says Clough. “At the end, we do a show-and-tell for parents and also suggest they bring a friend or cousin." Once summer participants have tried out the studio in this low-key environment, they typically sign up again in fall. DT

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Dance Teacher Tips
Photo by Kyle Froman

Unlike a usual waltz, in which the lift and dip would come from the legs, this waltz from Paul Taylor's Cloven Kingdom (1976) requires the up-and-down motion to come solely from the torso. The legs remain in plié the entire time, eating space. (When this piece is performed, dancers traverse the length of the stage using one pass of this waltz.)

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Once competition season ends it may be challenging to keep your dancers excited and involved in dance. Don't let the down time between competition seasons drag on. Dance conventions are an easy and effective way to learn new skills, meet inspiring choreographers, and keep your dancers involved all year long. It is also a great opportunity for your dancers to bond and grow together as a team.

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Dance News
Adam Rose/FOX

At the start of last night's episode of "So You Think You Can Dance," 41 dancers remained. An hour later, we had a Top 20. And then there was a BIG FAT TWIST. (We'll get to that.)

The 41 still-standing Academy dancers showed up at the Dolby Theater in L.A. ready to tackle three rounds: contemporary choreography with seven-time Emmy nominee and one-time "SYTYCD" contestant Travis Wall; an "epic group routine" with jazz choreographer and La La Land she-ro Mandy Moore; and a last-chance solo showdown. Here's what happened.

The Contemporary Competition

"I'm not looking for robots," SuperTrav immediately explained. He gave the dancers shapes, but from there, each was expected to make the choreography his or her own. Everyone got sweaty and exhausted, and after 90 minutes, it was time to perform in groups of three for Nigel, Mary, Vanessa, and Travis.


Allen Genkin

The ballroom babe struggled during hip hop last week, but (naturally) crushed the ballroom choreography. This time around, the judges still couldn't resist Allen's charm, and he got to stay—though, Nigel said, "We need more."

Cole Mills

Cole has stood out during each round of choreography thus far, and not just because of his full-back tattoo. Travis called him absolutely beautiful. "I don't know where you came from or where you've trained, but I am very excited for you," TWall said. And he made it through.

Tessa Dalke

The pressure was on for this early favorite—and the judges weren't feeling her contemporary performance. Vanessa was expecting more, Travis didn't think she commanded the space with her energy, and Nigel said she needed to step up. But they weren't ready to give up on her, so she stayed for jazz.

Sydney Moss

She stood out, Nigel said, simply. She got to stick around, too.

Hannahlei Cabanilla

All the judges agreed that they couldn't take their eyes off her. Hannahlei made it on to jazz as well.

David Greenberg

The ballet dancer didn't totally crush Travis's choreography, so the judges decided to send him home. "I hate this part," Travis said through gritted teach. (We hate it, too.)

Eddie Hoyt

The judges needed to make cuts, and despite Eddie's awesome personality, the tapper's "SYT" journey ended here. Tear!

Evan DeBenedetto

The other tapping standout in the competition killed this choreo. Vanessa said he rose to the occasion, and he made it to the jazz round.

Bridget Derville-Teer

Nigel told Bridget she lost him today, and Mary didn't connect with the performance. Bridget was sent home—but Nigel hopes to see her again. (Season 16, girl! Be ready to crush it!)

Genessy Castillo

Genessy seemed to lose confidence halfway through the performance, but the judges still adored her, so she made it through.

Emily Carr

Emily was totally captivating in this round. Her jumps were the highest, her expression the fullest, her performance the boldest. Travis thought the competition was hers to lose: "Girl, I can't wait for you to get on the show so I can work with you," he said. Holy ultimate compliment, TravMan!

The Group Production Number

With 33 dancers left, it was time to bring in Mandy Moore for the final round of choreography. Her jazzy group routine featured all the dancers shining in their individual styles, plus a grand finale where everyone came together. "If they can't hang in the group routine, then it is cutsville, buh bye," Mandy said. STONE. COLD.



This routine looked so fun. (Was anyone else standing up, trying to learn it at home? No? Just us? OK.) The high-energy choreography was fairly simple, but there was a LOT of it. Each group got just an hour to perfect their portion of the routine—and to choreograph two eight-counts of the performance themselves. Intense much?

There were so many wonderful moments during the enthusiastic performance. Emily Carr was a standout again. The tappers looked awesome, and Jensen Arnold had undeniable presence. (The entire ballroom group is looking super strong this year, TBH.) The exhausting routine earned a standing O from the four judges, whom we were not envying at that point.



But cuts had to be made, and Tessa Dalke, sadly, was one of them. Other favorites—Alexis Gilbert, Jay Jackson, Gaevin Bernales—were sent home, too.

The Last-Chance Solo Round

The remaining 27 dancers got to perform one final solo before the judges chose the Top 20. Jay Jay Dixonbey's number was powerful, precise, and pretty darn perfect. Chelsea Hough rocked heels for hers. Hannahlei Cabanilla earned a "love. her." from Mary. And Allen Genkin wrapped things up with a booty wiggle, a big smile, and a Magic Mike-esque shirt toss that Nigel called "a little desperate." (AGREE TO DISAGREE, NIGEL.)

Without further ado...

The "So You Think You Can Dance" Season 15 Top 20

THE GUYS

Jay Jay Dixonbey

Cole Mills

Justin Pham

Slavik Pustovoytov

Peyton Albrecht

Dustin Payne

Evan DeBenedetto

Darius Hickman

Kyle Bennett, Jr.

Allen Genkin

THE GIRLS

Genessy Castillo

Magda Fialek

Jensen Arnold

Stephanie Sosa

Dayna Madison

Sydney Moss

Brianna Penrose

Chelsea Hough

Emily Carr

Hannahlei Cabanilla

BUT WAIT. After the reveal, there was another reveal: Turns out only 10 dancers will continue on to the live shows. What is happening?!

Next week, each of the Top 20 dancers will be paired with an All Star and a choreographer. See you then for more madness!

Dance Teacher Tips
Photo courtesy of Ballet Next

In 2011, when former American Ballet Theatre principal Michele Wiles departed the company and formed BalletNext, she found an artistic freedom she'd been longing for. Along with new collaborations with choreographers and musicians, she began working with trumpeter Tom Harrell, who introduced her to the multilayered sounds of jazz. "The dancers are another instrument to a jazz musician," says Wiles. Pairing this music genre with her classical foundation has been pivotal in defining her style. "I have this classical facility, but my mind is more contemporary. Jazz is a good intersection for my work," she says.

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Dance News
Photo by Alex Huber, courtesy of YDC

Ballroom dance could be the best form of diplomacy, according to New York City teenagers starring in a new documentary, Taking New Steps—The Dancing Classrooms Youth Dance Company Goes to Israel.

Saturday, members of the Youth Dance Company and their loved ones watched the premiere at the Film Society of Lincoln Center in Manhattan. Produced by SingularDTV, the 18-minute documentary captured individual interviews and sweeping drone shots during the company's 2017 trip to Israel for the Karmiel Dance Festival. Dancers in the audience, now a year older, cheered as they viewed younger versions of themselves on the movie screen.

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Dance Teachers Trending
Photo courtesy of Favia

After a bad sprain at 19 years old, Talia Favia left L.A. and went home to Phoenix to heal. While she was unable to dance full-out, she began to teach and choreograph. "I realized then that I was meant to be a choreographer and teacher," she says. "When I was auditioning in L.A., I would feel guilty, because I knew there were dancers there who wanted to perform more than I did. It took sitting out for me to realize that I just loved being behind the scenes."

Since then, Favia, 27, has thrived as a choreographer, setting numbers on studios around the country, creating viral dance videos, creating pieces on "So You Think You Can Dance" and "Dancing With the Stars," and receiving the top prize at the 2014 A.C.E. Awards.

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It's just so good. (via YouTube)

Happy Nationals season, everybody! It's that time of year when us lucky editors get to watch so, SO many gorgeous solos by dancers competing for big titles. But even among the insanely gifted artists at the top of the comp circuit, Tate McRae stands out. Just ask anyone who's seen the solo that helped her win Teen Best Dancer at The Dance Awards in Vegas last week.

Choreographed by Travis Wall (naturally), "Woman" is virtuosic both technically and artistically. Are the 180-degree extensions and fluid lyricism that captivated "So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation" audiences two years ago still there? Of course they are. But Tate also approaches the solo with a commitment and maturity that's rare in industry veterans, let alone 14-year-old students.

Planning to spend the majority of your summer sweating it out in the studio? Don't worry, you're not alone. And while you're definitely going to want to save the warmups for the winter, you can still accessorize your studio look without adding bulk, thanks to the always-in-style ballet skirt. From bright florals to washed out pastels and wild prints, we rounded up our favorite short (and a few long!) ballet skirts for summer.

AinslieWear Limoncello Wrap Skirt

via AinslieWear

If you can't spend your summer in the Mediterranean under actual lemon trees, this skirt is a solid backup. Plus, it gives us serious Beyonce "Lemonade" vibes, which will help you feel more fierce and less sweaty-mess in class (hopefully). ainsliewear.com, $50

Nationals is a doozy every summer—ESPECIALLY for dance teachers. You spend the whole year gearing up for one week of pure insanity. Nonstop classes, last-minute rehearsals, costume malfunctions, emotional students, stressed parents, endless awards ceremonies and a fancy gala—this week is enough to kill you. Yet somehow you've survived, and now it's time to detox! To help, here are memes that perfectly depict the five phases of Nationals recovery every dance teacher goes through. You'll die over how accurate they are.

Get ready to laugh!

Oh, and you're welcome 💁♀️.

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Studio Owners
Thinkstock

Running a studio is an enormous undertaking that requires you to wear many hats at once (and with expertise): pedagogy, customer service, business management and beyond. Some owners find they're better off doing the work with a trusted partner by their side—someone to share both the responsibilities and the rewards. But finding the right person to work with isn't easy. You need someone whose personality, strengths and weaknesses complement your own. Here, three sets of successful partners get to the heart of how they make it work.

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Dancer Health
Thinkstock

When Brittany Purtell heard one dancer was repeatedly bad-mouthing another on her eight-person competition team in early 2017, she knew she had to take action. "We got word about bullying among the team members," she says. "It started at their school and then carried over to the studio." A dancer was spreading rumors about her teammate: "Something along the lines of 'So-and-so is not trying; she's not practicing; she doesn't deserve to be on the team,'" says Purtell, who directs the Senior Elite team at Open Space Studio in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Concerned the bad-mouthing could lead to a serious rift among teammates, she planned a camaraderie-building session, where students filled poster boards with dance compliments about one another—and themselves—and decorated the studio with hearts where they'd penned why they love dance. She's heard no complaints since, but statistically speaking, she likely will face some variation of this challenge again.

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