Although The Dance Zone in Henderson, Nevada, attends a large event only every other year and opts for a smaller competition closer to home in alternating years, Nationals is always a year-end extravaganza. Whether making a cross-country journey or a quick road trip, co-owner/director Jami Artiga prepares her 50-member team with passion and professionalism.


How do you prepare for Nationals?

Our last regional competition is at the beginning of May, and then it's recital time at the studio and the comp kids get a break. But literally the Monday after the recital, we take off running with competition preparation. We have rehearsals every other day and technique classes on the alternate days. We look back at how the routines did at regionals and remaster the numbers. It's so important that we focus on keeping up the dancers' technique. Since many Nationals competitions are accompanied by classes, we want our students to feel good in the classes they take. That way they can be recognized in those classes, not just when they're onstage.

We also spend time making sure the dancers are in the right mind frame for competition. We ask them to look back on the year: “Have you worked hard all year? Have you accomplished your goals? Are you ready for the obstacles that will arise next year?" Then we can move forward and make it all happen at Nationals.

What are the biggest challenges you face concerning Nationals?

You have to help your dancers and their families find a balance between family vacations and extra rehearsals for Nationals. The dancers are willing to spend every waking moment in the studio, but if you don't allow for their families to take some time away, they'll get burnt out before the kids. You have to offer the best of both worlds and keep everyone motivated and excited without overwhelming them. It's not easy.

What are your rules and expectations while you're at Nationals?

The more guidelines we give our dancers and their parents, the fewer questions arise while we're at the competition. We give them exact times to show up for certain things, advise how late each group of dancers should be staying up every night and give them a set number of dances to watch at the event. We don't allow parents in the dressing rooms. We put the policies in writing, hand them out early and have a meeting to discuss them. If anyone has a problem with the rules, we can talk about it before we leave for Nationals, instead of mid-competition when stress levels are high.

How do you wind down from competition?

My co-director, Kaydee Francis, and I listen to the critique tapes first to make sure there's nothing on them that might make the dancers uncomfortable. Then, if we have a critique DVD that many competitions now provide, we invite the dancers to come in one evening and we play the DVDs on a projector. They can hear the judges and watch themselves on the big screen. They really get what the judges are saying that way.

How do you handle it when your dancers don't do well at competition?

Some competitions just seem like an uphill battle. A dancer might be off because she's given up on herself, or she might be going through a bad time in her life. You have to be in tune with your dancers. It's all about positive feedback while you're at the event.

When we get back to the studio, we discuss what went wrong. Recently, after a competition where we just couldn't pull it together, Kaydee took the dancers to the park to talk about it. It helps to get them out of the studio. So much is expected of them, from their teachers and from their parents, and dance can get so emotional. It's our job to boost them up and help them feel good.


The Conversation
Dance Teachers Trending
Photo courtesy of Hightower

The beloved "So You Think You Can Dance" alum and former Emmy-nominated "Dancing with the Stars" pro Chelsie Hightower discovered her passion for ballroom at a young age. She showed a natural ability for the Latin style, but she mastered the necessary versatility by studying jazz, ballet and other forms of dance. "Every style of dance builds on each other," she says, "and the more music you're exposed to, the more your rhythm and coordination is built."

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Harlequin Floors
Burklyn Ballet, Courtesy Harlequin

Whether you're putting on a pair of pointe shoes, buckling your ballroom stilettos or lacing up your favorite high tops, the floor you're on can make or break your dancing. But with issues like sticking or slipping and a variety of frictions suitable to different dance steps and styles, it can be confusing to know which floor will work best for you.

No matter what your needs are, Harlequin Floors has your back, or rather, your feet. With 11 different marley vinyl floors available in a range of colors, Harlequin has options for every setting and dance style. We rounded up six of their most popular and versatile floors:

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teachers Trending
Lani Corson. Photo by Royce Burgess, courtesy of Corson

Aerial work is growing in popularity in the dance world these days. Don't believe us? Check out this Dance Magazine article! If you're a studio owner who didn't grow up with aerial training (let's face it, how many of us really did?), then you may be feeling a little apprehensive about what to look for when bringing on a new aerialist faculty member. You know exactly what you want from your ballet teachers, your jazz teachers, your tap teachers, heck—even your tumbling teachers! Aerial, however, is a whole other ballgame.

To help you feel confident you're bringing in a teacher who is safe for your dancers, we sat down with Lani Corson, NYC aerialist, circus performer, adjunct professor at Pace University and teacher at Aerial Arts NYC, to get the inside scoop on exactly what you should be looking for.

Enjoy!

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Insure Fitness
AdobeStock, Courtesy Insure Fitness Group

As a teacher at a studio, you've more than likely developed long-lasting relationships with some of your students and parents. The idea that you could be sued by one of them might seem impossible to imagine, but Insure Fitness Group's Gianna Michalsen warns against relaxing into that mindset. "People say, 'Why do I need insurance? I've been working with these people for 10 years—we're friends,'" she says. "But no one ever takes into account how bad an injury can be. Despite how good your relationship is, people will sue you because of the toll an injury takes on their life."

You'll benefit most from an insurance policy that caters to the specifics of teaching dance at one or several studios. Here's what to look for:

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Owners
Getty Images

Dance teachers have a lot of strengths (communicating corrections, choreographing gorgeous movement, planning excellent recitals, cleaning technique—just to name a few) but when it comes to interior design—talent isn't exactly a given. So when studio owners remodel or build, worrying about the decor can feel a little overwhelming (you've got just a few too many other things to worry about, don't you?).

No need to fear! In 2019 we have Pinterest, which shows us all the latest trends we should know about. To help you make the best design decisions for your studio, we've compiled a list of public Pinterest pins we think you'll love.

You're welcome!

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Success with Just for Kix
Bill Johnson, Courtesy Just for Kix

Running a dance studio is a feat in itself. But adding a competition team into the mix brings a whole new set of challenges. Not only are you focusing on giving your dancers the best training possible, but you're navigating the fast-paced competition and convention circuit. Winning is one goal, but you also want to create an environment that's fun, educational and inspiring for young artists. We asked Cindy Clough, executive director of Just For Kix and a studio owner with over 40 years of experience, for her advice on building a healthy dance team culture:

Keep reading... Show less
Site Network
Unsplash

Is dance a sport? Should it be in the Olympics? They're complicated questions that tend to spark heated debate. But many dance fans will be excited to hear that breaking (please don't call it breakdancing) has been provisionally added to the program for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games in Paris.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by World Class Vacations
David Galindo Photography

New York City is a dream destination for many dancers. However aspiring Broadway stars don't have to wait until they're pros to experience all the city has to offer. With Dance the World Broadway, students can get a taste of the Big Apple—plus hone their dance skills and make lasting memories.

Here's why Dance the World Broadway is the best way for students to experience NYC:

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Vanessa Zahorian. Photo by Erik Larson, courtesy of Pennsylvania Ballet Academy

At the LINES Ballet Dance Center in San Francisco, faculty member Erik Wagner leads his class through an adagio combination in center. He encourages dancers to root their standing legs, using imagery of a seed germinating, so that they feel more grounded. "Our studios are on the fifth floor, so I'll often tell them to push down to Market Street," says Wagner. "They know that they should push their energy down to the street level." By using this oppositional force, he says, dancers can lengthen their bodies to create any desired shape.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Getty Images

After years of throwing summer parties at your studio, you're likely fatigued by coming up with themes and event details. You want your students to have a good time, but you're also up to your eyeballs in choreography and costume decisions.

Never fear! We've come up with party themes and activities to do during the event. Delegate tasks to your teachers and office managers, and voilà! You have a stress-free party ready to go.

Have a blast, people!

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Health
Thinkstock

Q: I recently returned to a modern dance class after a long absence. While I didn't feel any acute pain at the end of class, the next morning I could barely walk from the soreness in both my Achilles. What can I do to fix this?

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Owners
Getty Images

Q: I'm trying to think of ways to maximize studio space and revenue during the summer. What has worked for you?

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox