Editor's Note: How Do You Define Success?

When it comes to running a dance studio, what exactly is success? Is it about winning awards? Is it about revenue? Enrollment? Community reputation? Famous alumni? For many, it’s all about watching youngsters blossom in dance class.

Artistic Fusion Dance Academy in Denver seems to have it nailed on all these accounts. When Jennifer Owens and Julie Jarnot (on the cover) first opened in 2000, their company won awards right out of the gate. And if the competition circuit had a congeniality award for studio directors, the sisters would almost certainly bring home the trophy. Turn to “Yin and Yang”—their story puts to rest the myth that nice guys finish last.

Running a smart business while also maintaining high artistic and training standards isn’t easy. We all know of devoted dance teachers who seem almost ashamed to admit that they get paid to do their job. But at Dance Teacher, we advocate for operating a profitable business as the best way to deliver your labor of love. Every issue is filled with expert advice and tips from experienced studio owners.

In this issue:

• Nancy Wozny gets the 411 on all those crowdfunding requests that have been showing up in your e-mail: “Kickstarting Your Dream.”

• We know you have a long to-do list. But what if the item that could make the biggest difference isn’t even on it? “Time for a Tune-Up,” by editor Rachel Rizzuto.

• You don’t have to teach in a public-school setting to take a lesson from the K–12 story this month: “Making a Safe Space for Dance,” by Hannah Maria Hayes.

We love hearing your success stories, so please continue to share. One way is to enter the Dance Teacher Video of the Month contest. Post a short clip (to dancemedia.com) of your students performing their best competition or recital number. Or demonstrate the way you teach an element of technique. If your video is selected, we’ll feature your studio the way we did with Spectrum’s Dance Factory in Jacksonville, FL.

In “Ask the Experts” this month, Kathy Blake and Suzanne Blake Gerety recommend investing in yourself by attending dance conferences or business training. A great option is the Dance Teacher Summit, where the pages of Dance Teacher magazine come to life. August 5–7, New York City. Details at danceteachersummit.com.

Photo by Matthew Murphy

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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Teaching Tips
Getty Images

After months of lockdowns and virtual learning, many studios across the country are opening their doors and returning to in-person classes. Teachers and students alike have likely been chomping at the bit in anticipation of the return of dance-class normalcy that doesn't require a reliable internet connection or converting your living room into a dance space.

But along with the back-to-school excitement, dancers might be feeling rusty from being away from the studio for so long. A loss of flexibility, strength and stamina is to be expected, not to mention emotional fatigue from all of the uncertainty and reacclimating to social activities.

So as much as everyone wants to get back to normal—teachers and studio owners included—erring on the side of caution with your dancers' training will be the most beneficial approach in the long run.

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