Studio Owners

Ask the Experts: Studio-Lobby Moms Are at Each Other's Throats. What Do I Do?


Q: I have an amazing group of polite and dedicated dancers, but their moms are constantly at each other's throats. What's worse, they spend all of their time at the studio, stirring the pot. It really changes the mood here. What can I do to stop this?

A: Ah, yes—we call these ladies "studio-lobby moms." They are always around, watching class and talking negatively about other parents' dancers. Behavior like this stems from jealousy, and it really brings down the energy of the group. Over the years I have found that I can stop drama with these moms by giving them jobs to do, like working on costumes (alterations, steaming and bagging are great distractions). I'm sure to give different groups of moms different jobs in order to keep them away from each other.

I've also had many competition meetings where I've talked about how everyone should be supportive of all of the dancers. I explain that our children watch us and take cues from our behavior, so we should lead by example. Learning to deal with all types of people and rising above pettiness should always be our goal. I recommend you talk to these moms as a group and ask them to only bring positive energy to the studio space. Hopefully this will encourage them to change. If not, just continue to keep them busy!

Sponsored by A Wish Come True
Courtesy A Wish Come True

With so much else on your plate, from navigating virtual learning to keeping your studio afloat, it can be tempting to to cut corners or to settle for less in order to check "costumes" off of this season's to-do list. Ultimately, though, finding a costume vendor you trust is paramount to keeping your stress levels low and parent satisfaction high, not to mention helping your students look—and feel—their absolute best. Remember: You are the client, and you deserve exceptional service. And costume companies like A Wish Come True are ready to go above and beyond for their customers, but it's important that you know what to ask for. Here are some tips to make sure you are getting the most out of your costume company.

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Higher Ed
Charles Anderson (center) in his (Re)current Unrest. Photo by Kegan Marling, courtesy of UT Austin

Given the long history of American choreographers who have threaded activism into their work—Katherine Dunham, Pearl Primus, Donald McKayle, Joanna Haigood, Bill T. Jones, Jo Kreiter, to name a few—it's perhaps surprising that collegiate dance has offered so little in the way of training future generations to do the same.

Until now, that is. Within the last three years, two master's programs have cropped up, each the first of its kind: Ohio University's MA in community dance (new this fall), and the University of Texas at Austin's dance and social justice MFA, which emerged from its existing MFA program in 2018. These two programs join the University of San Francisco's undergraduate performing arts and social justice major, with a concentration in dance, which has been around since 2000.

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Teacher Voices
Getty Images

As many dance teachers begin another semester of virtual teaching, it is time to acknowledge the fact that virtual classes aren't actually accessible to all students.

When schools and studios launched their virtual dance programs at the beginning of the pandemic, many operated under the assumption that all their students would be able to take class online. But in reality, lack of access to technology and Wi-Fi is a major issue for many low-income students across the country, in many cases cutting them off from the classes and resources their peers can enjoy from home.

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