Studio Owners

3 Questions You Should Ask When Buying Mirrors for Your Studio

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There are a lot of things to think about when creating your studio space—floors, waiting-room furniture, wall decor, stereos, lighting, and perhaps most overlooked, mirrors. Your dancers will spend most of their time staring at themselves in those bad boys, so you better be sure they're super-awesome!

But where to start? Most of us aren't mirror experts—we're dance experts!


Never fear, Dance Equipment International principal Joe Reinke is here to share three questions studio owners should be asking suppliers before they buy.


1. What are these mirrors made of?

"There are different types of mirrors than just glass mirrors. In fact, glassless mirrors have been growing in popularity at dance studios for quite some time now. They're made of a durable film that makes them safer for your studio. They're UL listed, which means they're fire retardant, they're very lightweight and they can't shatter. Beyond safety, these mirrors are more reflective than a regular mirror."


2. How is the quality of these mirrors?

"You can tell the quality of a mirror based on the reflection you see in it. If there is waviness, or it's not very clear, it's a poor-quality mirror. You don't want your dancers looking into something with distortion. It shouldn't feel like a funhouse. Ask to see the mirror in person, or request that they send you a mirror sample so you can see what you are getting into."


3. Are these mirrors easy to install and take down?

"Whether you're mounting the mirrors on your wall, or bringing in a mirror on a rolling stand, you want to get something that's easy to install. You also want to make sure that you buy something that can easily be taken down so that you don't ruin the walls if you move locations."

Music
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Securing the correct music licensing for your studio is an important step in creating a financially sound business. "Music licensing is something studio owners seem to either embrace or ignore completely," says Clint Salter, CEO and founder of the Dance Studio Owners Association. While it may seem like it's a situation in which it's easier to ask for forgiveness rather than permission—that is, to wait until you're approached by a music-rights organization before purchasing a license—Salter disagrees, citing Peloton, the exercise company that produces streaming at-home workouts. In February, Peloton settled a music-licensing suit with the National Music Publishers' Association out-of-court for an undisclosed amount. Originally, NMPA had sought $300 million in damages from Peloton. "It can get extremely expensive," says Salter. "It's not worth it for a studio to get caught up in that."

As you continue to explore a hybrid online/in-person version of your class schedule, it's crucial that your music licenses include coverage for livestreamed instruction—which comes with its own particular requirements. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about music licensing—in both normal times and COVID times—as well as some safe music bets that won't pose any issues.

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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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