DT on Dance Moms: Strategies for Stamina

Did you catch “Dance Moms” (or as I like to call it, “The Housewives of Allegheny County”) last night on Lifetime? Per usual, the student dancers were adorable and talented, the stage moms nutso, and the fierce Abby Lee Miller was caught in a wild ride between the two worlds. Last night's episode revolved around a fight between Kelly and Abby. For some reason, Kelly was angry when her daughters were chosen to perform solos, and then when she didn’t complete a simple task (putting rubber stoppers on chair legs) that Abby asked her to—for the safety of her own child—Kelly lost it, stormed out of the studio, and finally prohibited her children from performing those coveted solos. It was just a tad melodramatic.


But the episode had some key take-away ideas:


1.   Voice lessons! Brooke likes to sing, and Abby suggested that she take voice lessons from the woman who gives classes at the studio. If you want to breed triple threats, you have to send your dancers to a vocal coach. But why not make it easy on your students’ families by offering the lessons at your location? Moreover, it seems like a great way to increase your income. Unfortunately the show didn’t go into the logistics of housing a vocal coach at a studio, but how about either renting out the space to the teacher—with you splitting a percentage of her lesson fees—or hiring the teacher directly and encourage your musical theatre kids to attend voice lessons. Both options increase your studio’s offerings, attract new clients and bump the talent of your students. Win, win, win.

2.  Building stamina—that seemed to be the theme of the week. Abby mentioned that her students had trouble keeping up their energy throughout their performance, and they seemed to slump on and off stage. They performed a Zombie-themed routine at competition (winning first place) to drill in the idea that the dancers often look like the living-dead while dancing. It’s no secret little girls struggle with this; one second they’re bursting with energy, and the next second they crash. I see this in my own classes all the time—fifteen minutes after practically bouncing off the walls they’re too tired to even stand up. So how can we train them to keep going? What will help build stamina? The answer may lie in their breath.


As neuromuscular specialist Debra Vogel writes, “As their breathing patterns improve, stamina, endurance and overall performance will improve.” In the article “Breathing Techniques,” (click the link to read) Vogel shares breathing strategies for increased endurance.



Teachers Trending
Alwin Courcy, courtesy Ballet des Amériques

Carole Alexis has been enduring the life-altering after-effects of COVID-19 since April 2020. For months on end, the Ballet des Amériques director struggled with fevers, tingling, dizziness and fatigue. Strange bruising showed up on her skin, along with the return of her (long dormant) asthma, plus word loss and stuttering.

"For three days I would experience relief from the fever—then, boom—it would come back worse than before," Alexis says. "I would go into a room and not know why I was there." Despite the remission of some symptoms, the fatigue and other debilitating side effects have endured to this day. Alexis is part of a tens-of-thousands-member club nobody wants to be part of—she is a COVID-19 long-hauler.

Keep reading... Show less
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

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.