High Five with Amanda Tae

Focal Point Dance Studio

Miami, FL

In business since: 2005

Enrollment: 300

 

What is your studio’s philosophy?

 

Amanda Tae: It doesn’t matter where you’re from—you’re welcome at Focal Point. Even if you train at another studio, you can still take classes with us. The dance world is so small, and it’s important for dancers to come together and work together. We’ll all run into each other 5 to 10 years from now. We need to support each other.

 

What makes Focal Point stand out among the many studios in Miami?

 

AT: We hold adult classes. There are many professional dancers in the area, like the Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders and the Miami Heat Dancers, who want to keep training. They’ve graduated from high school, and whether they dance for a living or just love dancing, they still want to take classes. The adult classes are offered at night to accommodate college students or people working 9-to-5 jobs, and we teach all styles, including hip hop, contemporary, lyrical, jazz, jazz funk and ballet.

 

How do you find balance in your life as a studio owner?

 

AT: The studio took over my life for a long time, and I’m just now learning how to balance everything. My phone still stays on 24 hours a day, and I’m constantly responding to e-mails and phone calls.
In life, you have to be willing to make mistakes and learn from them—then don’t make those mistakes again. As studio owners, we’re often set in our ways and confident that we know what we’re doing. Listen to advice from others—you don’t always have to take the advice, but you should still listen to it. 

 

What is the most important thing you do every day?

 

AT: I make sure I leave a good impression on my students and their parents. As an educator, I can make a positive impact on their lives. I want to do whatever I can to change their lives in a positive way.

 

What is the secret to your studio’s success?

 

AT: The dancers have good chemistry and a tremendous amount of respect for one another. They get along well, which shows onstage. We all look at each other as family. I grew up an only child, so my dance group has always been important to me.

 

Photo: Focal Point Dance Studio performs at JUMP (courtesy of Break The Floor Productions)

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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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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