Ask the Experts: How Can I Make a Memorable Recital Speech?

Q: I want to make an opening speech at my recital to encourage studio spirit and pride, since it's definitely lacking at my studio. What can I say without making it sound like a commercial?

A: As the director or owner, you have the opportunity each day to establish your studio culture. Your recital is a great place to generate excitement about what makes being a student at your school special. If you share your studio commitment and vision—rather than try to convince people of anything—it will not feel sales-y.

If you want your team to feel proud and enthusiastic about being a part of your program this year, start by acknowledging them: staff, theater personnel, parents, volunteers and dancers who take part in making the performance happen. Genuine appreciation and thank-yous are key. Once you express your appreciation, share a short but heartfelt sentiment. Think about how you can honor and acknowledge the work of the students, the commitment of the families, and the artistry and talent of your teachers and choreographers. You may even share some specifics from the year that your unique group of students can relate to personally. If you have a theme or event that your studio rallied around this season, mention it!

You can minimize the selling aspect by inviting your dancers and families to stay connected to the studio throughout the summer via your social-media channels and a studio-specific hashtag. Encourage them to look through and save their recital program, which can include marketing materials or ads about your summer and fall programs inside.

It takes focus and energy to build student and family engagement at your studio. Carry this enthusiastic tone forward in all of your communications—e-mail, in-person, social media—and your future announcements and recital acknowledgements will feel natural.

Kathy Blake is the owner of Kathy Blake Dance Studios in Amherst, New Hampshire. She and Suzanne Blake Gerety are the co-founders of

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Securing the correct music licensing for your studio is an important step in creating a financially sound business. "Music licensing is something studio owners seem to either embrace or ignore completely," says Clint Salter, CEO and founder of the Dance Studio Owners Association. While it may seem like it's a situation in which it's easier to ask for forgiveness rather than permission—that is, to wait until you're approached by a music-rights organization before purchasing a license—Salter disagrees, citing Peloton, the exercise company that produces streaming at-home workouts. In February, Peloton settled a music-licensing suit with the National Music Publishers' Association out-of-court for an undisclosed amount. Originally, NMPA had sought $300 million in damages from Peloton. "It can get extremely expensive," says Salter. "It's not worth it for a studio to get caught up in that."

As you continue to explore a hybrid online/in-person version of your class schedule, it's crucial that your music licenses include coverage for livestreamed instruction—which comes with its own particular requirements. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about music licensing—in both normal times and COVID times—as well as some safe music bets that won't pose any issues.

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Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

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Higher Ed
The author, Robyn Watson. Photo courtesy Watson

Recently, I posted a thread of tweets elucidating the lack of respect for tap dance in college dance programs, and arguing that it should be a requirement for dance majors.

According to, out of the 30 top-ranked college dance programs in the U.S., tap dance is offered at 19 of them, but only one school requires majors to take more than a beginner course—Oklahoma City University. Many prestigious dance programs, like the ones at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and SUNY Purchase, don't offer a single course in tap dance.

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