Using Demonstrators for Your Rectial

Photo courtesy of Tori Rogoski


There Are Two Camps:

Put them onstage Small, short, sharp. Those are the qualities Danie Beck of Dance Unlimited in Miami looks for in her competitive dancers when choosing leaders for her tots' recital numbers. The studio pays for the leaders' costumes—which match the tiny dancers', so the leaders don't stand out—and the leaders get to keep them. Leaders start attending the minis' classes in mid-April and must be present for that class' auditorium rehearsals, too. "The leaders love being chosen—it's considered an honor," says Beck. "Best of all, the younger ones actually perform their routines! No one just stands there and cries."

Hide them in the wings Demonstrators for Dance Connection in Islip, New York, stand in the first two wings, near the front of the wing space, so the first line of onstage dancers falls behind them. "It makes it much more about the kids to have the demonstrators off the stage," say owners Joe and Mary Naftal.

Tip: Tori Rogoski of Dance Education Center in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, has her demonstrators dance onstage with the little ones. They coordinate their outfits to the class costume with the help of a gift certificate from her studio's apparel store.

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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