It’s All About the People

Dance studio business advice is a staple of Dance Teacher. We share expert perspectives in every issue—from managing your brand to how to best clean your floors. But our annual Studio Business issue is my favorite because that’s when we get to celebrate you—the studio owner. We never tire of meeting the special breed of dancers who choose to tackle the business side as well as the artistic and pedagogical aspects of our field. Studio owners are the triple threats of dance education: artists, teachers and entrepreneurs.

In this issue you’ll meet Nicole Benson, Kelly Dailey and Melinda Pendleton. Each brings a different dance pedigree to the vocation of studio owner: modern, hip hop and ballet, respectively. But the daily challenges they face are similar. They may sound familiar to you as well because they’re your challenges, too.

Meet the people behind this month’s fun cover: (l–r) editor (and videographer) Alyssa Marks, art director Emily Giacalone, editor Andrea Marks, photographer Kyle Froman, dancers Saioa Lopez, Kevin Benamar and Fitgi Saint-Louis, stylist Chuck Jensen—and the stars themselves, Ahtoy and Daniel.

One of the biggest trials you face is that of business competition—especially when it comes from within. When a teacher in whom you’ve invested time and resources leaves your employ to open her own studio, it can really test your fortitude. But recently we’ve been hearing the other side of the story: teachers who have ethical or philosophical disagreements with their employers. They want to do things their way—and isn’t that one of the reasons you work for yourself? But there is a wrong way and a right way to do it. Andrea Marks tackles this sensitive topic in “Making a Graceful Exit.”

Let’s face it, management practices can make or break your business. It’s not easy to build a loyal and productive team, while also teaching and choreographing and enrolling students. But the payoff is huge. In our Business section, Rachel Rizzuto outlines six essential steps to a great team.

Photo courtesy of Daniel Enskat; (top) by Matthew Murphy

Getty Images

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.

Keep reading... Show less
Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

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.

Keep reading... Show less
Higher Ed
The author, Robyn Watson. Photo courtesy Watson

Recently, I posted a thread of tweets elucidating the lack of respect for tap dance in college dance programs, and arguing that it should be a requirement for dance majors.

According to, out of the 30 top-ranked college dance programs in the U.S., tap dance is offered at 19 of them, but only one school requires majors to take more than a beginner course—Oklahoma City University. Many prestigious dance programs, like the ones at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and SUNY Purchase, don't offer a single course in tap dance.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.