Are Recital Photos Worth Taking When Few People Are Purchasing?


Q: Last year I had recital photos taken, but very few people ordered any. Is it worth it to do it again this year?

A: Capturing the perfect photo at recital time is a great keepsake and reminder of the fun students had at that age/stage of their dancing. But for parents, the cost of printed photos is unappealing, given that smartphones can take high-quality images that are easily texted and shared on social media. While many treasure a posed photo, the number of parents who order them at our studio decreases each year.

As a result, we've created different options for our parents. During our in-studio dress rehearsal week, we have a company come take portraits. Parents order directly from them, and we even earn a small commission from each package sold. Last year, they only photographed the dancers who had pre-ordered images. We also have an action photographer at our theater who takes onstage, professional-style images that can be purchased after the recital for a small download fee. (These action photos have been the most popular.)

Use this as an opportunity to be progressive and try something new in order to make photo opportunities available to your students. You could create an all-inclusive media fee for your recital, which would include a posed photo, an action shot and perhaps a DVD/digital download of the dance number in order to boost sales.

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Alwin Courcy, courtesy Ballet des Amériques

Carole Alexis has been enduring the life-altering after-effects of COVID-19 since April 2020. For months on end, the Ballet des Amériques director struggled with fevers, tingling, dizziness and fatigue. Strange bruising showed up on her skin, along with the return of her (long dormant) asthma, plus word loss and stuttering.

"For three days I would experience relief from the fever—then, boom—it would come back worse than before," Alexis says. "I would go into a room and not know why I was there." Despite the remission of some symptoms, the fatigue and other debilitating side effects have endured to this day. Alexis is part of a tens-of-thousands-member club nobody wants to be part of—she is a COVID-19 long-hauler.

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Annika Abel Photography, courtesy Griffith

When the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May catalyzed nationwide protests against systemic racism, the tap community resumed longstanding conversations about teaching a Black art form in the era of Black Lives Matter. As these dialogues unfolded on social media, veteran Dorrance Dance member Karida Griffith commented infrequently, finding it difficult to participate in a meaningful way.

"I had a hard time watching people have these conversations without historical context and knowledge," says Griffith, who now resides in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, after many years in New York City. "It was clear that there was so much information missing."

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Courtesy Tonawanda Dance Arts

If you're considering starting a summer program this year, you're likely not alone. Summer camp and class options are a tried-and-true method for paying your overhead costs past June—and, done well, could be a vehicle for making up for lost 2020 profits.

Plus, they might take on extra appeal for your studio families this year. Those struggling financially due to the pandemic will be in search of an affordable local programming option rather than an expensive, out-of-town intensive. And with summer travel still likely in question this spring as July and August plans are being made, your studio's local summer training option remains a safe bet.

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