High Five with Shirley and Michele Larkin

Larkin Dance Studio in performance

In business since: 1950 

Number of students enrolled: 800

What is the philosophy at Larkin Dance Studio? There’s nothing you can’t accomplish if you put your mind to it. Be confident, be respectful and be the best you can be—the sky is the limit. Many of our teachers are Larkin alumni and our ballet program is getting stronger every year. We support one another and work together to make a positive difference in the children’s lives.

As longtime studio owners, how do you keep everyone happy? It’s impossible to keep everyone happy. As long as the kids work hard and are respectful, we’ve done our job. We focus on keeping a positive work environment. We hold faculty meetings so that our staff members can have their voices heard, and we listen and make changes if needed. If your teachers aren’t happy, your students won’t be happy.

You have about 60 male dancers at your studio. How do you attract and retain them? We try to keep the choreography masculine. It helps to have male teachers, and the boys love hip hop. It’s also encouraging to the younger boys to dance with the older ones. They are able to see the kind of people they can become if they stick with dancing.

What’s the secret to a successful competition strategy? Make sure you have the total package. Work hard and make sure your choreography is clean. But also, your costumes should be just as amazing as your dancers and choreography.

What’s your advice to other competition teams? Teach your students about good sportsmanship. There’s nothing more embarrassing for a teacher than students who don’t represent your studio in a positive manner. Teach them to cheer for all of the studios at competition, and let them know how important it is to support one another. Kids who work hard together and treat each other with love and respect will shine more onstage.

 

Photo courtesy Larkin Dance Studio

Sponsored by A Wish Come True
Courtesy A Wish Come True

With so much else on your plate, from navigating virtual learning to keeping your studio afloat, it can be tempting to to cut corners or to settle for less in order to check "costumes" off of this season's to-do list. Ultimately, though, finding a costume vendor you trust is paramount to keeping your stress levels low and parent satisfaction high, not to mention helping your students look—and feel—their absolute best. Remember: You are the client, and you deserve exceptional service. And costume companies like A Wish Come True are ready to go above and beyond for their customers, but it's important that you know what to ask for. Here are some tips to make sure you are getting the most out of your costume company.

Keep reading... Show less
Higher Ed
Charles Anderson (center) in his (Re)current Unrest. Photo by Kegan Marling, courtesy of UT Austin

Given the long history of American choreographers who have threaded activism into their work—Katherine Dunham, Pearl Primus, Donald McKayle, Joanna Haigood, Bill T. Jones, Jo Kreiter, to name a few—it's perhaps surprising that collegiate dance has offered so little in the way of training future generations to do the same.

Until now, that is. Within the last three years, two master's programs have cropped up, each the first of its kind: Ohio University's MA in community dance (new this fall), and the University of Texas at Austin's dance and social justice MFA, which emerged from its existing MFA program in 2018. These two programs join the University of San Francisco's undergraduate performing arts and social justice major, with a concentration in dance, which has been around since 2000.

Keep reading... Show less
Teacher Voices
Getty Images

As many dance teachers begin another semester of virtual teaching, it is time to acknowledge the fact that virtual classes aren't actually accessible to all students.

When schools and studios launched their virtual dance programs at the beginning of the pandemic, many operated under the assumption that all their students would be able to take class online. But in reality, lack of access to technology and Wi-Fi is a major issue for many low-income students across the country, in many cases cutting them off from the classes and resources their peers can enjoy from home.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.