Ask the Experts: How Do I Get Parents On Board for a Holiday Show?

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Q: I want to do a holiday performance and need some advice. How do you get parents on board? How do you keep it economical? What other money makers do you do at your holiday show other than ticket sales?


A: Parents tend to get on board with a holiday performance when you pitch it as an optional opportunity for their children to gain more onstage experience and to demonstrate all that they have learned up until this point in the year. If you set an expectation that the performance will be economical and seek solutions to fulfill that promise, the parents will be happy.

One way to do this is to have your students rent costumes for a small fee rather than buy them outright. The fee should be based on the price of the costumes, how long you plan to use them, and what it will cost you to clean, repair and store them.

Some studios choose a simpler solution by adding holiday accessories like gloves, scarves and hats to the student's already existing dancewear. Another creative costume solution is to have your younger dancers wear holiday pajamas, while the older dancers wear black leggings with ugly sweaters.

When doing a holiday performance, keep in mind your hard costs like theater rental, production and staff. You can generate additional performance revenue beyond ticket sales with things like selling teddy bears in dance outfits with a balloon, flower bouquets or concessions at the show.

Music
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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 onstageblog.com, 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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