Behind at the Scenes at the DT October Cover Shoot

Hi readers!

The October issue should be reaching your mailboxes any day, if it hasn't already. The cover, as you'll see, features Edith Montoya, owner and director of Southern California studio Dance Precisions, and a quartet of her lovely dancers.

I first met Edith a few years ago at a Nationals competition in Las Vegas, and I've had the pleasure of watching her kids onstage quite a bit since then. Her students seem to have it all -- technique, expressivity and great choreography, to name a few things. But more than anything, they have that "can't-take-my-eyes-off-you" quality that is truly unusual.

It was the middle of August when I flew from New York City to Placentia, CA -- near Laguna Beach -- to supervise the shoot. What's a cover shoot like? Well, it's a bit like putting together a puzzle. First, we do hair and makeup for an hour; then we shoot for three, varying set-ups and poses. (If you think it's easy to do nothing but stand and smile for the camera for that long, just ask our subjects -- not so much!) There's a photographer, one or two of his assistants, the subject or subjects, the hair and makeup artist, an editor (like myself) and an art director -- which adds up to a lot of people, all with their own opinions on how the shots should look The trick is to follow a plan while allowing for the unexpected to happen. It can be nerve-wracking sometimes, but it never fails to be exciting!

Edith and I shot the breeze as she had her makeup done and the photographer set up. We talked business, mainly -- I hadn't read the article yet, so it was fascinating to hear about the strategies she's used to grow her studio over the last 20 years. As her students started trickling in, we headed over to where the photographer had set up.

With so many people in each shot, it was a little difficult to art-direct the poses, and Edith and I both wondered aloud how we could really get the energy going. Finally, we turned up the music, and the kids came alive! "Wow, I see why we're shooting them," Joe, the photographer said. They performed excerpts from one of their award-winning pieces this year, "Proud Mary," to the unfailingly upbeat Aretha Franklin tune, and I could see the shoot was really shaping into something special. As the day wound down, the kids gave us all hugs and thanked us for the opportunity -- proving they were as genuine and sweet as they were talented.

Be sure to check out their story and photos when you get the issue!

Teachers Trending
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."

For example, she observed people discussing tap while demonstrating ignorance about Black culture. Or, posts that tried to impose upon tap the history or aesthetics of European dance forms.

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Owners
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.

The keys to profitable summer programming? Figuring out what type of structure will appeal most to your studio clientele, keeping start-up costs low—and, ideally, converting new summer students into new year-round students.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Diary
Claire, McAdams, courtesy Houston Ballet

Former Houston Ballet dancer Chun Wai Chan has always been destined for New York City Ballet.

While competing at Prix de Lausanne in 2010, he was offered summer program scholarships at both the School of American Ballet and Houston Ballet. However, because two of the competition's winners that year were Houston Ballet's Aaron Sharratt and Liao Xiang, dancers Chan idolized, he turned down SAB. He joined Houston Ballet II in 2010, the main company's corps de ballet in 2012, and was promoted to principal in 2017. Oozing confidence and technical prowess, Chan was a Houston favorite, and even landed himself a spot on Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch."

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.