Editor's Note

As we put together our annual studio business issue, a theme began to emerge. Not only did it seem the biggest challenges faced by studio owners were caused by things they couldn’t plan for, it was often a matter of not knowing the right questions to ask. Sound familiar?

 

In this issue these resilient entreprenuers tell how they solved problems or simply faced up to a new reality with grace and determination.

 

- In “Creating the Dream Studio," we’ll give you the questions four studio owners wished they’d asked when renovating space. It will help you troubleshoot for your next building project.

 

- In “Surviving the Storm," you’ll read about studio directors who learned they could overcome famine, flood and fire—with the help of their communities.
l And in “Built to Last," you’ll meet the charming Blackstones, who’ve grown (and changed!) as businesspeople over 30 years. They literally danced their way into our hearts the rainy afternoon we visited Denise Daniele Dance Studio in southern New Jersey.

 

If you enjoy these stories, I invite you to attend the Dance Teacher Summit, July 27–29, when studio owners and teachers will gather in New York City to share best practices and inspiration. Talk about community! All year, you work hard, often on your own, to make everything happen. Imagine what takes place when 1,600 people just like you come together. It’s pretty incredible. www.danceteachersummit.com

 

In the meantime, I’d love to hear what’s on your mind. Write to me at khildebrand@dancemedia.com or “like” Dance Teacher on Facebook.

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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