Dance studios, as a destination for both children and adults, are in a prime position to reach out to various segments of their local population by holding innovative events. Not only do these functions raise local visibility, they often raise much-needed funds for studio scholarships and competition costs. See what these five studio owners are doing to boost their businesses via community happenings.

Cherry Creek Dance studio's "Thriller" flash mob

 

Lee Prosenjak

Cherry Creek Dance

Denver, CO

Riding on the “flash mob” phenomenon, Cherry Creek Dance studio gathered more than 300 people this past Halloween to learn Michael Jackson’s Thriller choreography and perform it spontaneously in public locations. This project sparked what co-owner Lee Prosenjak is calling his master plan to host free monthly happenings that generate lasting buzz and loyalty toward the 1,900-student studio. “Our philosophy is to get people together and let the good times roll!” he says. “Our belief is that in the long run, holding such events will do a lot more for our business than we could accomplish through advertising alone.”

 

Other recent events at Cherry Creek included: an open house in which visitors sampled free 20-minute classes, a restaurant partnership that dedicated 10 percent of all dinner proceeds on specific nights to CCD’s nonprofit organization, 7dancers, and a holiday-cookie-decorating gathering. At each event, flyers are handed out and Prosenjak acts as an ambassador, informing visitors about the studio’s offerings. “It’s all about sparking interest in a variety of ways,” he says.

 

Misty Lown

Misty’s Dance Unlimited

Onalaska, WI

 

In August 2008, Misty Lown and her 700-student studio established Drop the Beat, a non-alcoholic teen dance, in partnership with the local school district, police department and Boys & Girls Club. “The school district provided the sound system and staging, the police provided the security and the Boys & Girls Club provided free advertising to their members—all simply in exchange for having their name attached to the event,” says Lown. “It was very easy for organizations to buy into what we were producing because it didn’t cost them anything.”

 

The event attracted 297 attendees as well as numerous dance teams and crews for a performance “battle.” All were admitted via canned-good donations. “The heartbeat of any community comes from schools and small businesses, and we try to maximize the influence we have in a positive way,” says Lown.

 

Greg Kasprzak

Dance-Fit

Stamford, CT

 

Dance-Fit owner Greg Kasprzak frequently performs dance demonstrations at charity balls and school fundraisers, along with donating private lessons for silent auctions. Since 2008, he has been a featured guest in Dancing with the Stars, Stamford, a benefit for a local nonprofit theater organization. “Sometimes people don’t think of ballroom dancing as an artform, and being associated with established events builds awareness and opens minds,” he says. “It has also helped build my business; the day after a function, my phone always starts ringing!”

 

Buoyed by his success participating in outside events, Kasprzak has several projects planned for 2010 at his own space, including a summer dance camp and several social-dance mixers/all-day workshops for holidays like Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day. The events will double as scholarship fundraisers for Dance-Fit students, with 30 percent of the proceeds providing pro bono group and private lessons.

 

Holly Grubb Smith

 

Triple Threat DanCenter

Winston-Salem, NC

 

Triple Threat DanCenter’s yearly fundraiser, the Triple Threat Performance Benefit and Dessert Café, began in 2005 in response to a studio family’s major medical crisis. The studio planned the inaugural event, at which $4,000 was raised and a number of high-ticket items were gifted. (For instance, one person donated a mattress.) Due to the function’s success, co-owners Holly Grubb Smith and Kim Moser Hobson decided to make it annual, giving the proceeds to a different children’s charity each year. (Beneficiaries have ranged from Arts for Life to the Ronald McDonald House.) Attendees pay $20 for admission and are treated to coffee and an array of desserts, as well as dance, music and theater performances by Triple Threat students. “Not only does it teach the kids to give back, but it also gives them an extra opportunity to perform during the year,” says Grubb Smith.

 

Charlotte Wendel

 

Southwest School of Dance

Marshall, MN

 

Charlotte Wendel, owner of Southwest School of Dance, has been orchestrating a popular dinner theater gala since 1998. “It’s completely run by the kids: They serve the meal, sell tickets, clean up and perform their best competition dances,” says Wendel, who solicits local businesses to help put on the show. “The seniors are the hosts and welcome everyone, and the parents do the organizing. It’s grown into a huge event.”

 

Although the 120-student studio primarily hosts events to raise competition money, Wendel stresses that it is more important to focus on what these gatherings can do for the public. “Approach it from an angle of how it will benefit the community and give kids new opportunities,” she says. “Nobody should ever attend an event simply because they love the person in it. Give them an event that stands on its own.” DT

 

Jen Jones is a Los Angeles–based freelance writer.

Photo of Cherry Creek Dance Studio's "Thriller" flash mob, courtesy of Cherry Creek Dance.

The Conversation
Dance News
Photo by Rachel Papo

When Monica Stephenson was a student at Houston Ballet Academy, she was cast as Lauren Anderson's swan double in Swan Lake. The role was just a few walks in Odile's tutu and a veil as the scene changed, but it was a thrill for the 18-year-old Stephenson. Anderson, one of the few principal ballerinas of color, was the inspiration for Stephenson to attend Houston Ballet Academy.

For the role, wardrobe gave Stephenson a few pairs of Anderson's special-order pointe shoes that were brown to match her skin tone. "That really helped me," Stephenson says. "I wound up wearing her specs my entire career. Sometimes people don't realize when they're impacting a young person."

Stephenson never forgot what it meant to have a role model like Anderson. She knew she'd want to inspire ballet students of color herself someday.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Getty Images

Competition is a dance teacher's battleground, and in order to be victorious, you need to have a few defenses in your bag at all times. You never know when something unexpected will happen, and your students will need their trusty dance teacher/hero to come in and fix everything. To help you be the most prepared you can be, we've compiled a list of essentials you should have on you at all times during competition. Keep them with you, and the weekend is yours for the taking!

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Harlequin Floors
Courtesy Harlequin Floors

Just like your car, your studio needs periodic tune-ups to keep it humming along smoothly. If you take the time to address a few small fixes, your business will stand out. And you don't have to break the bank, either—you might be surprised how low-cost, DIY improvements can make a surprising difference.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Susannah Israel-Marchese with students at School of Ballet Hartford; photo by Frank Marchese, courtesy of SBH

At Michigan Ballet Academy, artistic director Irina Vassileni meets with a group of eager young students and their parents. She holds a shiny new pair of pointe shoes in one hand and an old, worn pair in the other. "I show them all the details, inside and out, and how working on pointe for hours will break down the shoe," says Vassileni. "I might even bring in different models and talk about how they're made. Parents need a lot of information to make them feel comfortable about their children going on pointe."

Keep reading... Show less
Just for fun
Photo via @bettycrocker on Instagram

Here at Dance Teacher, we never miss out on a chance to help you be super EXTRA for the holidays. This month, we give you recipes to four different St. Patrick's Day treats you might consider handing out in class for your studio's celebration. Your dancers will love the festiveness, and you can use them as bribery for good behavior if you're feeling desperate (guilty 🙋♀️).

Check them out, and let us know what kinds of treats you like to make at your studio for St. Patrick's Day!

Oh, and you're welcome!

Keep reading... Show less
Just for fun
Noe Leilani via @joandjax on Instagram

It's officially March, and you know what that means—green dance gear all around! Your students will come to class looking like jolly-green leprechauns, and you wouldn't have it any other way—it's way too much fun! To help you and your dancers find your best green getup, here are three green outfit ideas that will fulfill all your St. Patrick's Day needs. No pinching needed!

You're welcome!

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Getty Images

Cleaning competition numbers is a process—and a difficult one at that. Making your dancers look cohesive without draining them of their passion and individuality can feel like an impossible task.

Here are some tips and tricks that may make it easier for you!

You're welcome.

Keep reading... Show less
Site Network
Emily Giacalone, modeled by Nicole Kennedy of Marymount Manhattan College

We get it: Dance is exhausting, and sometimes all you want to do during a quick break is, well, nothing. Bill Evans, director of the Evans Somatic Dance Institute, recommends the following options, which are both relaxing and recuperative for the stresses dance puts on your body. From energizing restorative poses to deep breathing, here are five ways to make your downtime work for you.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Amber Johnson at Deland Middle School. Courtesy of DMS

For a young student in the process of developing bodily awareness, a hands-on adjustment by a teacher can mean the difference between safe and incorrect alignment. But in many K–12 schools today, a hands-on approach is frowned upon or sometimes even forbidden. With dance being a kinesthetic art, this limitation presents a predicament for K–12 dance teachers. Here, two teachers share their views on whether to use touch in class and, if so, how they go about it.

Keep reading... Show less
Unsplash

When it comes to running a thriving dance studio, Cindy Clough knows what she's talking about. As executive director of Just For Kix and a studio owner for more than four decades, she's all too aware of the unique challenges the job presents, from teaching to scheduling to managing employees and clients.

Here, Clough shares her best advice for new studio owners, and the answers to some common questions that come up when you're getting started.

Keep reading... Show less
Site Network
Like many dance traditions, it started at the Paris Opéra. (Edgar Degas' "The Dance Class")

The dance world is brimming with superstitions. One of the most common is never to say "good luck" before a show, since everyone knows uttering the phrase is, in fact, very bad luck. Actors say "break a leg" instead. But since that phrase isn't exactly dance-friendly, you and your dance friends probably tell each other "merde" before taking the stage.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, "merde" is a French exclamation that loosely translates to, er, "poop." So how did dancers end up saying "merde" to each other instead of "good luck"?

To learn more, we spoke to Raymond Lukens, associate emeritus of the American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum, and Kelli Rhodes-Stevens, professor of dance at Oklahoma City University. Read on—and the next time you exchange "merdes" with your castmates before a show, you'll know why.

Keep reading... Show less
Just for fun
via YouTube

We knew we adored Ben Platt when we saw him sing his heart out through sobs in Dear Evan Hansen back in 2016, but now that he's put out a music video with some fantastic dancers as the titular characters, we are positively in love with him!

Check out the emotional new music video to, "Grow as We Go" with Rudy Abreu and Effie Tutko. The L.A. superstars are positively stunning in it! Let us know if you agree over on our Facebook page.

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox