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.
The current pandemic has studio owners everywhere rethinking business as usual. One dirty little secret that's been exposed? Before COVID-19, many of us weren't giving our floors nearly enough attention. As Derryl Yeager, founder and artistic director of Odyssey Dance Theatre in Draper, UT, says, "A lot of times, the floor wouldn't be deep-cleaned more than once a month—and dance floors can get pretty gross!"
This new era is a perfect opportunity to start taking better care of your studio flooring—which, in turn, will help ensure a healthy, supportive surface for your dancers and teachers. We turned to two studio owners and Harlequin Floors, the global leader in advanced technology dance flooring, for advice on keeping your dance studio floors in top shape this season.
The Right Stuff<p>Contrary to popular belief, cleaning your floors more often will <em>not</em> shorten their life. Quite the opposite, in fact: Harlequin Floors advises that removing dust, dirt, spills and sweat quickly will keep flooring slip-resistant and long-lasting. It's all about which products you use—and, maybe more importantly, <em>don't</em> use. Floor waxes, finishes, or sealers should never come near your studio flooring. Any oil-treated brooms and mops are also a hard no.</p><p><a href="https://us.harlequinfloors.com/en/" target="_blank">Harlequin Floors</a> has long offered the gold standard for cleaning in their <a href="https://us.harlequinfloors.com/en/shop/cleaning-maintenance/daily-cleaner/" target="_blank">Daily Cleaner:</a> a biodegradable, low-toxin solution especially formulated for vinyl flooring. To meet the concerns of the COVID-19 era, they've formulated a new product: <a href="https://us.harlequinfloors.com/en/shop/cleaning-maintenance/daily-cleaner-disinfectant/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the Daily Cleaner + Disinfectant.</a> It works just like the classic <a href="https://us.harlequinfloors.com/en/shop/cleaning-maintenance/daily-cleaner/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Daily Cleaner, </a>with the additional feature of EPA-approved effectiveness against the coronavirus.</p><p>Bea Rashid, director of the Dance Center Evanston in Illinois, suggests reaching out to the manufacturer of your floors for guidance on which products to choose. "Because flooring is such a huge investment, I want to be sure that whatever I use will extend the life of the floors, while also getting them really clean," she says. In addition to <a href="https://us.harlequinfloors.com/en/cleaning-and-maintenance-tips/" target="_blank">floor type-specific cleaning tips,</a> Harlequin Floors Account Executives are ready to answer any additional questions their customers may have when it comes to enhanced health and safety protocol in the studio. </p>
Consistency Is Key<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/adFlIbgEO4Y" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p>That "really clean" daily routine means starting by sweeping or vacuuming to pick up loose dirt and dust. Then your solution of choice comes into play. Rashid wet-mops with <a href="https://us.harlequinfloors.com/en/shop/cleaning-maintenance/daily-cleaner-disinfectant/" target="_blank">Harlequin's Daily Cleaner + Disinfectant,</a> leaving the antibacterial solution wet on the floor for 10 minutes afterwards. In high-square-footage studios like Yeager's where a single mop may not cut it, Harlequin's high-speed <a href="https://us.harlequinfloors.com/en/products/harlequin-micromini-floor-scrubber/" target="_blank">Floor Scrubber </a>can help you get the job done more quickly and efficiently. </p><p>Next, any stubborn scuff marks can be removed from the floor using <a href="https://us.harlequinfloors.com/en/shop/cleaning-maintenance/heavy-duty-cleaner/" target="_blank">Harlequin's Heavy Duty Cleaner</a><u>, </u>which is also ideal for high-traffic areas. Finally, use a wet-dry vacuum to remove all liquid from flooring, and let dry overnight.<br></p><p>Many studios, including Dance Center Evanston, are now scheduling 15 minutes in between classes to lightly disinfect studio spaces. Because the Daily Cleaner + Disinfectant is also <a href="https://us.harlequinfloors.com/en/shop/cleaning-maintenance/daily-cleaner-disinfectant/" target="_blank">suitable for hard, non-porous surfaces </a>(barres, walls, tables, chairs, etc.), the phosphate-free, broad-spectrum germicidal benefits can be put to use multiple times a day.</p>
The More You Know<p>You already know that transparency about disinfecting procedures is crucial to help parents feel good about sending their dancers back into the studio this fall. As Yeager says, "We've been very upfront about the extra precautions we've been taking to be as safe as possible, including proven anti-COVID-19 measures like the <a href="https://us.harlequinfloors.com/en/shop/cleaning-maintenance/daily-cleaner-disinfectant/" target="_blank">Daily Cleaner + Disinfectant."</a></p><p>How can studio owners make sure their floor-cleaning procedures form part of a cohesive, effective antiviral approach? "I've done a lot of reading and attended some online workshops on what to do to combat COVID-19—and I've reached out to Harlequin several times," says Rashid. "They're doing the research at the same time, so I feel comfortable following their lead."</p>
Who knew that a virtual awards ceremony could bring our community together in such a powerful way?
Last night, we celebrated the annual Dance Teacher Awards, held virtually for the first time. Though it was different from what we're used to, this new setting inspired us to get creative in celebrating our six extraordinary honorees. In fact, one of the most enlivening parts of the event was one that could only happen in a Zoom room: Watching as countless tributes, stories and congratulations poured in on the chat throughout the event. Seeing firsthand the impact our awardees have had on so many lives reminded us why we chose to honor them.
If you missed the Awards (or just want to relive them), you're in luck—they are now available to watch on-demand. We rounded up some of the highlights:
Deborah Damast inspired us to keep pushing forward.<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQyMTAyOS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MjcwNzUxOX0.9R1l2HcjjUSbPmHyh20U15eelgwJlwbx3reDP2IQWc8/img.jpg?width=980" id="d46db" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="6303dae7de1355bddf630a8af0cd2eb3" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="A television screen depicting Deborah Damast accepting her award on Zoom. She gestures in excitement" /><p>As presenter and <em>Dance Teacher </em>senior editor Courtney Escoyne put it, the dance educators of tomorrow are indeed in good hands with <a href="https://www.dance-teacher.com/deborah-damast-dance-teaher-awards-2647028447.html" target="_blank">Deborah Damast</a>.</p><p>Damast, who directs the dance education master's degree program at New York University's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, gave us a sampling of the inspiration she doles out to her pedagogy students (and her young students—Damast still teaches creative movement, too) on the regular. </p><p>"Don't let the overwhelming nature of these times paralyze you into inaction," she told us. "Find the light, take on the challenge and steer your ship. We are dancers, flexible in mindset and strong in design. Bring your mentors and your ancestors with you for support. And be the history that you want your students to read about. Because history is made right now." <br></p>
Bo and Stephanie Spassoff celebrated the beauty of our art form.<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQyMTA0MC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2MjQxNDA5MH0.2yFyhO-VXwp4mOsoQKho-GlxyX57VcEsgl6ioJ0Z0FM/img.png?width=980" id="67a37" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="312dd0d88ea0eefe4d27a39f62191048" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="A screenshot of Bo and Stephanie Spassoff's acceptance speech, filmed in their home" /><p>It's one thing to know that The Rock School has a long list of distinguished alumni. It's another thing to hear those alums talk about their experience growing up in the school, and how its directors, <a href="https://www.dance-teacher.com/bo-stephanie-spassoff-2647028516.html" target="_blank">Bo and Stephanie Spassoff</a>, shaped their lives.</p><p>Several such artists joined us by video last night, including New York City Ballet's <a href="https://www.dancemagazine.com/taylor-stanley-2638773614.html" target="_blank">Taylor Stanley</a><strong> </strong>and Russell Janzen, Ballet West's <a href="https://www.dancespirit.com/ballerina-kaeli-ware-2645030899.html" target="_blank">Kaeli Ware</a>, Boston Ballet's <a href="https://www.pointemagazine.com/derek-dunn-pointe-cover-2646445156.html" target="_blank">Derek Dunn</a> and Charlotte Ballet's Sarah Lapointe. Many of them spoke about how the Spassoffs imbued in them a deep love for the art form. </p><p>"This is just the most beautiful art form and we've so enjoyed our whole marriage in it," said Stephanie. "You give and then you get in return, just incredible joy and satisfaction. And when you dance to give to audiences and to uplift them, there's nothing better than that." </p>
Kim Black reminded us that everyone deserves the chance to dance.<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQyMTA1MC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNjExOTMxMX0.Ct5kLZj_iO1ClEWOlrnf9Vsmcja6ip-8TAWWVxn7e6c/img.png?width=980" id="8eb15" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9b423ac8b5bd1f0ea54350100e8321ae" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="A screenshot of Kim Black accepting her award with a class of students behind her" /><p>When <a href="https://www.dance-teacher.com/dance-teacher-award-kim-black-2647028616.html" target="_blank">Kim Black</a> got married, she had 78 flower girls, all her students. So when it came time for another milestone—accepting her <em>Dance Teacher </em>Award—she wanted to once again have her students beside her. </p><p>Black accepted the award from her Burlington, North Carolina, studio, surrounded by her (socially distanced) students, many of whom adorably dressed up for the occasion.</p><p>Throughout Black's speech, she kept coming back to the word "chance," acknowledging the mentors who gave her chances to teach, and how she strives to create opportunities for others today. Everyone deserves to dance, regardless of their abilities, Black said. (Black walks this talk through her integrative dance program, A Time to Shine.) "Keep giving people chances," she urged us. </p>
Patricia Dye showed us what community really looks like.<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQyMTA1OC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1OTk0OTkzN30.V8OR-hXcZdG8zO24x9Is0uz4-_yXivYVFyvDqxyPnhg/img.png?width=980" id="a85ba" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3799522c1d114b5106b27c427a0e628e" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="A screenshot of Patricia Dye, who is wearing a bright yellow dress, accepting her award from her home" /><p>Hearing <a href="https://www.dance-teacher.com/dance-teacher-award-patricia-dye-2647028661.html" target="_blank">Patricia Dye</a> accept her award was like getting a lesson in dance history. That's because the beloved high school dance teacher and Teachers College, Columbia University doctoral student is constantly naming the ancestors, mentors and teachers who paved the way for her—from her early teachers in St. Croix to her upbringing in Brooklyn (where she still teaches today) to legends like Pearl Primus, Katherine Dunham and Chuck Davis. </p><p>Dye has paved the way for countless students herself. The Latin origin of "educate," she told us, is "to lead out of." She said, "As a dance educator, I've been leading my students out of where they presently are to where they want to be."</p><p>With her typical humility, Dye emphasized that it's taken a village to get her to where she is. "I've learned that my community, my tree of life, is my anchor," she said. "I teach what I've learned and experienced. We teach our youth to document our stories for the yet-to-be-born." <strong></strong></p>
MOVE|NYC| gave us hope for the future.<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQyMTA5NC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1ODE2ODg0M30.FM7BJ9QdUb_JwxCKP-gi2UZWlyMYgGgsQj6mypdDiv0/img.png?width=980" id="41e09" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="90acae9f52c00507984807250a6b6b3c" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="A still from A Prayer for Black Life. Kelsey Lewis wears all black and dances in the grass under a bridge" /><p>For the first time ever, all the proceeds from this year's <em>Dance Teacher</em> Awards went to an organization whose mission is close to our hearts: MOVE|NYC|. </p><p>MOVE|NYC| co-founders Nigel Campbell and Chanel DaSilva (you may remember them from <a href="https://www.dance-teacher.com/chanigel-2645715163.html" target="_self">our May/June cover</a>!)<strong> </strong>joined us to talk about how they're working to create a more equitable and diverse dance field, and to foster tomorrow's dance leaders. Then came one of my favorite moments of the event: MOVE|NYC| student Kelsey Lewis performed a gorgeous and haunting solo (that she learned on a basketball court this summer!) entitled <em>A Prayer for Black Life</em>, choreographed by Campbell. It's clear that Lewis has a bright future ahead of her, and we're thrilled to be able to support her training with the <em style="">Dance Teacher</em> Scholarship funded by the proceeds from last night's event. </p>
Dance Teacher celebrated one of our own.<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQyMTA3OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0ODQ2ODAxMn0.QXCnQrnl4gZDpQM1eHo8rcwHhWXNMicDnf9wgtY-fIQ/img.jpg?width=980" id="44e6d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="782b9702f402096f96843847e5cb5bf4" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="A tv screen shows Karen Hildebrand smiling as she accepts her award" /><p>Karen Hildebrand, who passed the baton to me as <em>Dance Teacher</em>'s editor in chief earlier this year, has been advocating tirelessly for dance education for the entirety of her 11-year tenure. So we decided to surprise her with her own well-deserved <em>Dance Teacher</em> Award. (Okay, we told her about it the week prior, but she was still pretty surprised.)</p><p>We brought together current and former <em>Dance Teacher</em> writers, editors, cover stars, advisory board members and more to tell Hildebrand about how she's impacted our lives, and to send her well wishes for her next chapter.</p>
Wendy Whelan honored the many teachers who shaped her.<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQyMTA5Ni9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNzkxMjcyNH0.BPNnf65AkRYx8SkIevolwrA4xplxOH3AG2wDCNgTiX8/img.png?width=980" id="a232f" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4385358fb7b91f759a88264c999a619b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="A blurry screenshot of Wendy Whelan smiling on the Zoom screen" /><p>Who would have guessed that during her training, <a href="https://www.dance-teacher.com/wendy-whelan-2646985874.html" target="_blank">Wendy Whelan</a> felt like she was "dog paddling through her ballet classes, trying to catch up"?</p><p>Accepting her <em>Dance Teacher </em>Award of Distinction, the former New York City Ballet principal and current associate artistic director told us about how at age 9, when she decided to get serious about ballet, she suddenly found herself "guessing her way through class, never knowing which body part to pull up or in, wondering what exactly the difference between the two was." Once, she said, a teacher even asked a more advanced student to take her to the side and show her what a pas de bourée was. "I had no idea," she said.<strong></strong></p><p>Whelan was not deterred. "I became a very good follower back then, and frustration became second nature to me," she said. "But that's often what happens. You get hooked on the process and the puzzles and the growth, and you never want to stop learning. And you never want to lose that feeling of eternally being in bloom. Either that, or you decide a career in ballet is maybe not for you." I think I speak for the entire dance community when I say: Thank goodness the latter was not the case with Whelan. </p><p>She then spoke about the many teachers who influenced her over the years, and whose lessons she now draws on as a teacher herself. Though they varied dramatically in approach—sometimes even with contradictory methods, she said—"between them all existed a meeting point of truth, and a deep understanding of integrity and excellence." </p><p>Whelan continued to call upon the wisdom of her teachers in her mini-class and Q&A, where she told us about the images she loves to use in class, the technique tricks she's learned throughout her career and how <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CD9K-15JSQK/" target="_blank">her new gardening hobby</a><strong> </strong>has inspired her teaching. </p>
We're already looking for nominations for next year.<p>Believe it or not, <a href="https://us15.list-manage.com/survey?u=ecd8b4c8d4fd2381e8dea8c3e&id=8970534582" target="_blank">nominations for the 2021 <em>Dance Teacher</em> Awards are already open</a>! We're excited to hear about the extraordinary educators who you'd like to see receive an award next year.</p>
Between COVID-19 restrictions and a difficult economic climate, fall enrollment is looking more uncertain than ever for dance studios.
What can studio owners do to ensure their numbers are as high as possible? Provide an easy and exceptional experience for their studio families.
At a recent webinar hosted by Dance Business Weekly and sponsored by Jackrabbit Dance, we talked to Molly Stroud, digital marketing specialist at Jackrabbit Dance and Michelle Soutier, owner of Miller Street Dance Academy, about why customer service is more important than ever—and how to deliver excellent support for parents when the future is so unpredictable.
Strong customer service = ease and organization.<p>It's a crazy time. Ensuring that you aren't adding to the craziness is essential to keeping parents on board at your studio. This means organized, streamlined communication, said Stroud—something Jackrabbit recently made easier for their dance studio management software clients with <a href="https://www.jackrabbitdance.com/features/class-management/#emailing" target="_blank" rel="dofollow">a series of customizable email templates</a>. Stroud said that <a href="https://www.jackrabbitdance.com/features/online-registration/#customer" target="_blank" rel="dofollow">Jackrabbit's parent portal</a>, too, has been especially appreciated during this time: A one-stop shop for all the information a parent might need, accessible on their mobile phones so they can log in wherever, whenever. </p><p>It may be time to get creative with your communication, too. "Part of customer service is listening to what customers are saying," said Soutier. Her parents expressed that they were being inundated with emails from their children's schools. To make sure her information wasn't getting lost in the mix, Soutier made fun videos of herself summarizing what she'd sent via email.</p><p>Though Jackrabbit clients have long been able to make <a href="https://www.jackrabbitdance.com/features/billing-payment-processing/" target="_blank">contactless payments,</a> this feature also has new relevance now as studio owners try to reduce foot traffic in their studios. Making as many interactions contactless as possible—from payment to sign-ups to scheduling—is a sign to your studio families that you are taking their safety seriously. </p><p>Needless to say, the easier <em>your</em> life is, the easier you can make your parents' lives: Jackrabbit recently fast-tracked upgrades on features like mass updates, which Soutier said has come in handy when she's had to unenroll multiple students at a time, or shift class sizes and times to account for social distancing.</p>
Provide above-and-beyond experiences.<p>An upside of the pandemic: There's new opportunity to expand what you offer as a studio. Stroud said that the above-and-beyond experiences she's seen from her studio clients have been a powerful example of what exceptional customer service looks like, from expanded class offerings like dance history and yoga to just-for-fun events that give students an opportunity for much-needed connection with their peers and their teachers. </p><p>For Soutier, this has included everything from a <em>Frozen</em>-themed virtual camp to a Zoom pet parade to simple lunchtime hangouts with teachers. After the live events, she would add videos of these activities to the supplemental page of her <a href="https://www.jackrabbitdance.com/features/online-registration/#customer" target="_blank" rel="dofollow">Jackrabbit parent portal</a>, so families could access them after-the-fact. "I want to give them more than they're paying for," said Soutier, who discounted her tuition when the pandemic hit. </p><p>Soutier has also been holding outdoor dance classes in her parking lot, and when the weather doesn't cooperate (which it often doesn't—she's now lost two sets of tents in surprise thunderstorms), she quickly transitions to Zoom (<a href="https://www.jackrabbitdance.com/features/online-registration/#customer" target="_blank" rel="dofollow">the parent portal</a>, which quickly adapted to accommodate virtual classes, makes this process seamless).</p>
Demonstrate your value.<p>One of Jackrabbit's customer service features doubles as an opportunity for studios to show that they are still providing value, even if they are limited in what they can offer. <a href="https://www.jackrabbitdance.com/features/time-clock/#mobile" target="_blank" rel="dofollow">Jackrabbit's staff portal</a> allows teachers to <a href="https://www.jackrabbitdance.com/features/class-management/#skill" target="_blank" rel="dofollow">track students' skills and progress</a> through updates that parents can see in real time on their parent portal. Many studios have been taking advantage of this feature to show parents that their children are indeed progressing—even if they can't go to the studio in-person.</p><p>Jackrabbit's livestreaming feature can function similarly—especially for those studios that are holding in-person classes, but have implemented COVID-related restrictions that bar parents from watching class as usual. They may have to watch from their cars or their living rooms, but they'll still be able to see the value you're bringing their children. </p>
British dance company and school Rambert has launched a new contemporary-dance training syllabus. Rambert Grades is intended to set a benchmark in contemporary-dance training, focused on three strands: performance, technique and creativity. Moving beyond the Graham and Cunningham techniques that form the basis of most modern-dance training in the UK, it includes contributions from current high-profile choreographers Hofesh Shechter, Alesandra Seutin and Rambert artistic director Benoit Swan Pouffer.
In the "new normal" of dance training shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing has become clear: Having a solid plan for virtual dance instruction is crucial to helping studios stay afloat. Luckily, CLI Studios has been leading the online dance education scene since 2014. And with its Studio Partnership Program, CLI has helped studios nationwide fill in the gaps in their student learning experience, often becoming a lifeline for them during the pandemic.
CLI's Studio Partnership Program, a membership-based online platform, works directly with local studio owners to keep students engaged, teachers inspired, and studios profitable, no matter what pandemic-related restrictions they may be facing. With over 800 recorded dance classes in a range of styles, continuing-education resources for teachers, and live-streaming events for students, the program includes everything dance teachers and studio owners need to create a thriving online curriculum, which opens up time and resources for those same teachers to focus on in-person training.
Customizable Content<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzc5OTQ4My9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0ODk0NzM4NX0.ua28B_SKBahb8uJfmHw3JkanIwt0tNnOALjtHbKYkao/img.jpg?width=980" id="4beb7" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="54138a8097964d8e6bd20d728a080e9d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Students at Encore Performance Company have kept up a structured training regimen at home during the pandemic thanks to CLI's Studio Partnership Program.
Courtesy Kim Niblett<p>The<a href="https://studios.clistudios.com/" target="_blank"> Studio Partnership Program's</a> flexibility allows teachers to provide quality structured training to their dancers, who may otherwise be overwhelmed with the flood of virtual options that have sprung up during the pandemic. A teacher can determine what level and style of classes they want their students to have access to, and with classes in just about every dance style and level and new ones being added each week, the options are abundant.<br></p><p>When COVID-19 came to Vestavia Hills, AL, earlier this year, Kim Niblett of Encore Performance Company knew that her students were in good hands. "We had been partnering with CLI since 2016, so we knew that there would be age-appropriate content," she says. "There's a lot of media out there. With CLI, parents don't have to worry about what their kids will accidentally stumble onto." While students sheltered in place, Niblett gave them "homework assignments"—combinations to learn from a CLI video. Then, she'd connect with students on Zoom to review what they'd learned.</p>
Live Connections<p> "When the pandemic hit, we didn't miss a beat," says Beth Bryson, owner of The Dancer's E.D.G.E. in Brentwood, TN. "We went straight online. Because we had CLI set up, switching to Zoom was a very easy transition. I didn't lose classes, students, or tuition." Bryson says that even before the pandemic, she was eager to capitalize on the program's live offerings. With new CLI-exclusive events added to the library each month, there's always something available to help you expand your students' knowledge, from audition workshops to world-premier performances. </p>
Star Power<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzgzNjU0NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMTI2NDQzMn0.nO_LwenPl7JgCaikQ3xX-U5eS6Iz2SkY-OvHnNLYmS8/img.jpg?width=980" id="dfa3f" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e86c771f4e79857b0d3577ca24119c21" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
CLI Studios teacher Kathryn McCormick leading class
Courtesy CLI Studios<p>CLI's roster of teachers alone is enough to inspire many studio owners. "It has exposed dancers to the best choreographers and teachers in the industry," says Bryson. Student favorites include tWitch, Allison Holker, Brian Friedman, Tiler Peck, Misha Gabriel, Kathryn McCormick, Mark Meismer, and Teddy Forance.<br></p><p>McCormick, who has been a CLI teacher since its inception, loves that she has been able to reach so many different types of dancers through the program, from recreational to competitive to professional. "The program can be a wonderful way to give your students a glimpse at the professional dance world while doing it all in the safety of your home studio," she says. "It's a convenient way to add a consistent source of outside inspiration into your home program."</p>
Courtesy CLI Studios
Providing Profitability<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzc5ODA5MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNzUwNDcwM30.vC4TadmmlZD5YlyBO8zO-Wqnny8NX_LPScfjoJXNdFs/img.jpg?width=980" id="f9440" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c76f185569ca89931401e5039f6796dd" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Dancers at Encore Performance Company after a virtual CLI class with Teddy Forance
Courtesy Kim Niblett<p>At just $99 per month for a membership and a one-month free trial to start, the <a href="https://studios.clistudios.com/" target="_blank">Studio Partnership Program </a>enables studios to get a huge bang for their buck. Both Bryson and Niblett have students pay a separate CLI fee to use the program, which not only covers the cost of the studio's membership, but has been profitable for them, as well. Thanks to her solid financial footing, Bryson has been able to keep her full faculty employed throughout the pandemic.</p>
Keeping Teachers Engaged and Inspired<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzgwMDA0MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwODg0NTIxOH0.2EwIl55nau1UmKlu9OGogcTD1LttLzNLlz7bNLxw4PI/img.jpg?width=980" id="005e0" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a202f3654319924dcbf383c88cc8768f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Students at The Dancers E.D.G.E. finishing up a class with Jaime Donovan
Courtesy Beth Bryson<p>In the spirit of a true partnership, CLI's <a href="https://studios.clistudios.com/" target="_blank">Studio Partnership Program</a> uniquely engages studio owners and teachers through its continuing-education resources. "I think the key to our platform is that we always start with inspiring a studio's teachers first," says Arpino. "More inspired teachers means a better overall dance studio." Bryson uses CLI to keep up with changes in the industry, and she's particularly enjoyed incorporating what she's learned about injury prevention into her program. Niblett agrees. "As dance teachers, I know that there's been a lot of fear that if you give your students access to do everything virtual at home then there's no need for a studio. That is not true," she says. "CLI promotes in-studio training and local teachers. They have always supported them, especially through the<a href="https://studios.clistudios.com/" target="_blank"> Studio Partnership Program."</a></p>
As studios in many areas begin to open up with safety protocols in place, dance students are, of course, itching to get back into class. But just because dancers can go back to in-person training doesn't mean all families are ready for their children to actually do so.
As a parent, it's understandable to feel caught between a rock (your dancer's will to attend in-person class) and a hard place (your concerns surrounding COVID-19). Yet no matter how many tears are shed or how much bargaining your dancer tries, the bottom line is that when it comes to issues of health and safety, you—the parent—have the final say.
Still, there may be ways to soften the blow, as well as best practices for setting or amending expectations. We asked Danielle Zar, a child and adolescent psychotherapist who specializes in parent education, to share some tips for this tricky situation.
First things first:<p>Always acknowledge your child's feelings. "Empathize with them," says Zar. "You want your dancer to feel heard. And if you create a relationship in which he or she feels like they can turn to you and feel acknowledged, it's more likely that they'll turn to you in the event of a problem."</p>
Try saying this:<p>"I hear how frustrating and upsetting this is for you. It must be so hard to see your friends returning to class when our rule, for now, is that you stick with virtual classes." Zar emphasizes the "for now," which leaves room for change. "It helps to include the idea that there will be an opportunity to work together to figure out what to do moving forward."</p>
Brace yourself:<p>"Not being allowed back in the studio may elicit some really angry and frustrated feelings," says Zar. Maybe your teen storms off or verbally fights back, or maybe your younger dancer is sad because they feel left out. Regardless, remain available for any feeling—even if acknowledging it doesn't seem to help in the moment. "The message you're sending is 'I hear you. I'm here for you. And I'm looking out for you and keeping you safe," says Zar.</p>
Listen. And listen some more:<p>Never dismiss your child's feelings ("It's only dance class," for instance) or try to talk her out of how she's feeling ("You can't be mad because you don't even like that ballet class"). Arguments can be exacerbated when children feel they aren't being listened to or understood.</p>
Solve problems together:<p>For older dancers, ask them what may make continued virtual learning more bearable, and, together, decide what may be feasible: Maybe it's creating a better dance space in your home or adding special one-on-one training sessions with their favorite teacher. "If it's more of the social aspect that's missing, especially for younger kids," says Zar, "consider adding some safe, socially distanced and masked playdates with dance friends you trust."</p>
Going forward:<p>When you're ready to begin reconsidering a return to the studio, have another conversation with your child about rules and expectations. "Research the studio's safety guidelines together and discuss what will be expected of your dancer," says Zar. "Ask what she'd do if her classmates weren't following the rules. Would she feel comfortable saying to a friend 'Hey, Betty, back off--you're too close'?" Think about your child's ability to keep proper distance from others and to determine what's safe and what's not. "Above all," says Zar, "let them know that the ultimate condition of eventually getting back into the studio is a willingness to communicate with you under any circumstance."</p>
When you hear Kim Black talk about her teaching career, there is no doubt she's found her life's purpose: Sparking the imaginations of preschool dancers while building their confidence.
"I do what I do best, and that's empowering little ones," she says. Better known as "Miss Kim" in the Burlington, North Carolina, community where she has been a dance educator for more than 30 years, the bubbly dynamo has developed quite a loyal following, as former students often enroll their children in her classes.
Photo courtesy Black
Three broken ribs, two broken ankles and one broken wrist. These are the last things a dancer wants to hear, let alone experience. On September 28, 2019, dancehall and soca choreographer and teacher Betty Rox found herself facing this reality when she was struck by a car while out for a walk in Los Angeles, California. She awakened in the arms of a caring stranger, unable to move.
But despite her initial disorientation and multiple injuries, her optimistic mindset led her down a path to a speedy recovery. Here's what got her back to dancing.
Her First Thoughts<p><strong></strong>"Being rushed to the hospital and not really knowing what's going on is a little bit scary," says Rox. "But I never, not once, felt like I wouldn't dance again." At the hospital, Rox's mother relayed the good news: She'd ultimately be okay. But what followed was an unsettling feeling when she learned that doctors were unsure how long it would take for her to walk or dance again based on the extent of her ankle injuries. Although this came as a shock, Rox felt grateful to still have both legs after being pinned within the grill of the vehicle. "I'm very spiritual, so I always had the faith that I would bounce back from this, and that I needed to just give myself the time to heal," she says.</p><p>Known for her unique island flavor combining soca, a cultural dance style originating from Trinidad and Tobago, and dancehall, a style rooted in Jamaica's energetic reggae culture, it came as a shock to friends, family and students when they discovered that, after two surgeries, Rox would have to learn how to walk again. One friend created a GoFundMe campaign, and over $14,000 was raised to support Rox on her road to recovery.</p><p>The support from both loved ones and strangers helped Rox stay in a healthy mental space. "I went from dancing, moving and doing whatever I want to literally being in a position where I needed to call someone every second that I needed to do something," she adds. "That was a frustrating process because I'm so independent. It put me in a really humbling position."</p><p>Her positivity made the transition into the Rancho Los Amigos Rehabilitation Center and working with physical therapists that much smoother, going from wheelchair to walking within two weeks.</p>
Jason Facey, Courtesy of Betty Rox
On Taking Her Time to Heal<p>"My students were asking me when I'm gonna teach again, so I did feel some obligation," she says. "But at the same time, I told myself 'You're allowed to take this time to yourself.' "</p><p>Rox has a few friends—mostly dancers—who have been injured in the past, and all of them offered similar advice: "You are by no means being pressured to come back to dancing or teaching. Take your time to heal, because once you reinjure yourself, then it makes it even harder for your comeback." She channeled that advice and used it as a reminder to not rush her healing process.</p><p>The pandemic has only helped her take a more intentional approach to her recovery. "It pushed me to take some more time to heal, and I'm glad because I really do feel like I would've probably tried to teach a lot earlier," she says, laughing.</p>
The Healthy Habits That Helped Her Recover<p>Meditation, journaling and prayer were key factors in Rox's recovery, and have remained her go-to healing habits even almost a year after the accident. "I always did these things, but it just became more heightened in the situation that I was in," she says. "Now, I'm just so much more aware and prepared to take care of myself on a different level." </p>
Jason Facey, Courtesy of Betty Rox
How Her Teaching Has Shifted<p>So, how has this life-changing experience made Rox a better teacher? For one, it has made her more aware of her body. "I want people to be able to experience what's happening with their bodies, and not just rush through the process," she says. "It's made me aware of how much I want to explain to my students how to properly utilize their bodies and connect to the movement more."</p><p>As she approaches the one-year anniversary of the accident, Rox is back on her feet and teaching <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CEkRHDOAIAe/" target="_blank">her first class on Instagram Live</a> this weekend. </p>
How Being a Dancer Helped Her Heal<p>"I think our bodies register healing very differently because we are used to doing so many things, and I think they've gotten equipped to making changes very quickly," she says. "Our bodies are in a whole different process when it comes to healing because of our background."</p>
Tiffany Bong has spent her career stepping into unexpected territory and making magic—a skill that's made all the difference in the face of COVID-19. As an 18-year-old freshman at Santa Clara University, she took her very first dance class, which set her on a path contrary to the expectations of her traditional Chinese household. "I was told I could either become a doctor or a lawyer," the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance hip-hop teacher says. "I didn't see myself in either of those, so I majored in psychology and dance without my parents knowing."
Upon graduation, Bong joined the Bay Area branch of the international hip-hop company Culture Shock. One year later, she moved to Los Angeles with $1,000 in her bank account, a car and no game plan. "I dove into classes at EDGE and Millennium, making up for lost training," she says. "But my real training came from dancing at the clubs all night long." Soon, she was progressing enough to join (and eventually win) battles.
Carolyn DiLoreto, courtesy USC Kaufman
Her favorite breakfast:<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzg5NTI0MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1OTk3MjE0OX0.ksA6IGT2Qcto6vN8Kp0dHLZQB0eZy0itkWYoyWMNj9M/img.jpg?width=980" id="733c0" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ebe3f8c94cd41628e58eea89e0d98aa7" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Smoothie bowl with fresh raspberry, blueberry, coconut flakes and chia seeds. Grey stone background. Top view." />
Getty Images<p>"Açai bowls all the way! I blend açai with almond butter, frozen bananas and nondairy milk. I put blueberries, pomegranates, coconut flakes and chia seeds on top. When I want to get even more healthy, I blend in spinach. It doesn't look as aesthetically pleasing, but it's good for you!"</p>
Her pre-class prep:<p>"Mental health is very important right now. In order to give, I need to be filled and centered. To prepare for class I use meditation, prayer and walking outside, and review my outline/lesson content."</p>
Her go-to teaching tool:<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="61b6b1ce6832c6942054c5e8858e1c3b"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/lODBVM802H8?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>"Video of the dance forms I'm teaching helps provide cultural context and movement analysis. I love anything from 'Soul Train,' especially in the 1970s."</p>
Her must-have teaching attire:<p>"I like the flexibility and lightness of Nike Free Runs for quick footwork, as well as the support and spring for jumps. I also like Lululemon. Their sizing fits well for me because I'm petite."</p>
Her guilty pleasure:<div id="3fb08" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="7776cbc48bfd8265a0e54571656f4d9e"><blockquote class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned data-instgrm-version="4" style=" background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:658px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% - 2px); width:calc(100% - 2px);"> <div style="padding:8px;"> <div style=" background:#F8F8F8; line-height:0; margin-top:40px; padding:50% 0; text-align:center; width:100%;"> <div style=" background:url(data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAACwAAAAsCAMAAAApWqozAAAAGFBMVEUiIiI9PT0eHh4gIB4hIBkcHBwcHBwcHBydr+JQAAAACHRSTlMABA4YHyQsM5jtaMwAAADfSURBVDjL7ZVBEgMhCAQBAf//42xcNbpAqakcM0ftUmFAAIBE81IqBJdS3lS6zs3bIpB9WED3YYXFPmHRfT8sgyrCP1x8uEUxLMzNWElFOYCV6mHWWwMzdPEKHlhLw7NWJqkHc4uIZphavDzA2JPzUDsBZziNae2S6owH8xPmX8G7zzgKEOPUoYHvGz1TBCxMkd3kwNVbU0gKHkx+iZILf77IofhrY1nYFnB/lQPb79drWOyJVa/DAvg9B/rLB4cC+Nqgdz/TvBbBnr6GBReqn/nRmDgaQEej7WhonozjF+Y2I/fZou/qAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC); display:block; height:44px; margin:0 auto -44px; position:relative; top:-22px; width:44px;"> </div></div><p style=" margin:8px 0 0 0; padding:0 4px;"> <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CEubP_mF-2w/" style=" color:#000; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none; word-wrap:break-word;" target="_top">Login • Instagram</a></p> </div></blockquote></div><p> "Ice cream, cake and Sidecar Doughnuts."</p>
Gina Gibney is CEO and artistic director of Gibney, a $6 million organization that occupies two locations of prime New York City real estate, with 52,000 square feet, 23 studios and five performance spaces. But when Gibney first founded her company of five dancers in 1991, it operated out of one studio. The story of how everything went wrong that could go wrong, and yet the organization rose to became one of the liveliest dance hubs in the city, is a fascinating example of judicious risk taking. When faced with the choice in 2010 to cut back and play it safe or to take a risk and grow, Gibney took a leap. She did that again in 2013 when she had the opportunity to take over the lease of 280 Broadway in lower Manhattan, now the main location for the Gibney organization.
In August, Gibney joined Dance Teacher editor at large Karen Hildebrand at the Unity 2020 Virtual Leadership Conference to discuss what it takes as a business leader to succeed—particularly in a year like 2020. Here are six takeaways from that event:
1. With every big leap, there is a letting go.<p>When Gina Gibney committed to leasing her first studio space in 1991, her role immediately became more complex. Now, not only was she making work for her own company of five dancers, she was the one responsible for scheduling space rental and keeping the floor clean. It meant giving up a certain amount of artistic focus. "Over the last decade I have hung up my choreographic tool belt and I am now the artistic director of an organization and a business person," she said. "I have some regrets about that but I think it's been a worthwhile sacrifice."</p>
2. Sometimes it's not what you want to do, but, rather, what you need to do.<p>When Gibney was approached by the City of New York to take over the lease at 280 Broadway after a beloved NYC dance studio, Dance New Amsterdam, went out of business, she almost said no. There were many challenges with the space and it required a major renovation. But Gibney knew that <em>someone</em> would take over the space. If it wasn't her, it might be a commercial tenant, and she felt strongly about preserving the space for dance. "There was a need for someone to rescue the space, but it was not a risk that I sought," she said. "It was probably the most difficult thing the organization has undertaken."</p>
Gibney has been called the dance community's benevolent landlord.
Buck Ennis for Crain's NY Business, courtesy of Gibney