Kandee Allen always knew she wanted service to be a major focus of her career. She had many opportunities to help others through dance in her youth, and the sentiment stuck with her. At 19 years old she and her mother opened Dance Impressions in Bountiful, Utah, home studio of "So You Think You Can Dance" Season 3 winner Sabra Johnson, and former Billy Elliot star Tade Biesinger.


In 2002, while sitting in the audience of a competition, the idea for how to incorporate charity into the fabric of her school was born. Allen and fellow Utah studio owner Penny Broussard (then owner of The Winner School) noticed that they were basically the only two studios in attendance that day. "Every other performance was either Dance Impressions or Winner School—it was almost comical," Allen says. Finally, Broussard turned to Allen and asked her how much her entry fees cost. Realizing that together they had paid roughly $68,000 dollars to essentially put on a recital for each other, they decided they could do something better with their money. Broussard reached out to a third Utah studio owner, Sheryl Dowling of The Dance Club, and together they created Art With Heart, a benefit concert for Shriners Hospital. As of today, the concert put on by these studios for the past 15 years has raised more than $673,000 dollars for children in need.

While Art With Heart has been successful, Allen says, it's also been a huge labor of love. "It takes an incredible amount of hard work and energy to make it happen," she says. "We couldn't do this without each studio and their faculty giving their full support to it." Planning begins a year in advance with reserving theater space. From there, Allen works closely with Shriners Hospital to produce the event.

"Early on we had to convince Shriners that this performance would be profitable, and that they wouldn't be held liable if it wasn't," she says. "Ever since the success of that first year, Shriners has been onboard right away." All funds raised go directly to the hospital. This past year the total was nearly $60,000 dollars.

The show includes 11 numbers from each studio, plus a graduating senior piece and a finale that everyone performs together. After the final number, children from Shriners Hospital come onstage and are presented with paper hearts from the dancers.

"There is nothing like the feeling in the theater when those kids come out—it's incredible," Allen says. "Dance is an art and not about competition and winning awards. It provides a venue to perform and share. Dance to create something beautiful; dance to be happy; dance to leave an impression on someone's heart. Just always keep dancing."

GO-TO TEACHING ATTIRE "I layer up with a lot of Jo+Jax. I like to wear layers because teaching temperatures can vary from room to room and moment to moment. I also wear Adidas running shoes when I teach. I don't want to have my legs ache all night!"

FAVORITE SNACK Fit Crunch Bars

GUILTY PLEASURES "Frozen custard, Chinese food and 'The Bachelor'!"

POST-TEACHING WIND-DOWN "A long, hot bath! I also love to have my feet zoned, or if I have any pain, I'll do some Ortho-Bionomy after teaching."

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."

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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:

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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?).

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You're welcome!

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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."

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Vanessa Zahorian. Photo by Erik Larson, courtesy of Pennsylvania Ballet Academy

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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:

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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!

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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.

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Dancer Health
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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?

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

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In 2019, dance parents are more eager than ever to observe their child's progress, and stay up-to-date with the ins and outs of what's happening in the classroom. That means yearly recitals aren't always enough to keep them satisfied—especially if you have rules against visitors observing class from week to week. The solution? Visitor observation weeks. Trust us, the guardians and loved ones of your students will love you for it!

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Adequate dorsiflexion mobility is needed to find a supple demi-plié needed to bound into the air and land safely. Getty Images

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