Ask the Experts: Building a Studio Business in a Bad Location


Q: How can I build my studio up if the location where I started my business is not a good one?

A: First, ask your parents and students for feedback on your current location. Have them rate the location's accessibility or proximity to where they live, the studio space itself, traffic patterns and parking, opinion of surrounding businesses, studio security and general program offerings. Do your own research, too: Get data on births, population growth or decline, school expansions and commercial and housing developments in your area.

After gathering feedback, determine what can be improved. For example, you can improve studio security by augmenting your outside lighting and adding closed-circuit monitors and cameras in waiting areas. Have a policy in place about coming and going from the building, too. If traffic patterns are an issue, find out from your local government how to add stop signs or traffic lights.

If, after consideration, you determine that you cannot grow your business in your current location, then it may indeed be time to move or add a second location. There are many factors to consider when evaluating a new location. We recommend you identify the number of nearby dance studios, as well as your current student base's proximity (plus the other demographic research we suggest above). You can upload your student contact list into a free geocode map-making service such as Easy Map Maker ( to create visual pins of where your students are actually located. This will help identify clusters from where people travel.

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Despite worldwide theater closures, the Universal Ballet Competition is keeping The Nutcracker tradition alive in 2020 with an online international competition. The event culminates in a streamed, full-length video of The Virtual Nutcracker consisting of winning entries on December 19. The competition is calling on studios, as well as dancers of all ages and levels, to submit videos by November 29 to be considered.

"Nutcracker is a tradition that is ingrained in our hearts," says UBC co-founder Lissette Salgado-Lucas, a former dancer with Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Joffrey Ballet. "We danced it for so long as professionals, we can't wait to pass it along to dancers through this competition."

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Robbie Sweeny, courtesy Funsch

Christy Funsch's teaching career has taken her from New York City to the Bay Area to Portugal, with a stint in a punk band in between. But this fall—fresh off a Fulbright in Portugal at the Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa, School of Dance (ESD), teaching and researching empathetic embodiment through somatic dance training—Funsch's teaching has taken her to an entirely new location: Zoom. A visiting professor at Slippery Rock University for the 2020–21 academic year, Funsch is adapting her eclectic, boundary-pushing approach to her virtual classes.

Originally from central New York State, Funsch spent 20 years performing in the Bay Area, where she also started her own company, Funsch Dance Experience. "My choreographic work from that time is in the dance-theater experiential, fantasy realm of performance," she says. "I also started blending genres and a lot of urban styles found their way into my choreography."

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Courtesy Meg Brooker

As the presidential election approaches, it's a particularly meaningful time to remember that we are celebrating the centennial of the 19th Amendment, when women earned the right to vote after a decades-long battle.

Movement was more than a metaphor for the fight for women's suffrage—dancers played a real role, most notably Florence Fleming Noyes, who performed her riveting solo Dance of Freedom in 1914 to embody the struggle for women's rights.

This fall, Middle Tennessee State University director of dance Meg Brooker is reconstructing Dance of Freedom on 11 of her students. A Noyes Rhythm teacher and an Isadora Duncan scholar, Brooker is passionate about bringing historic dance practices into a contemporary context.

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