Recommended: The Business of Dance

By Tim Stevenson aka Mo’at, Courtney Miller Jr. and Harvey Russell

156 pages, $12.99 

Commercial dance choreographers Courtney Miller Jr. and Tim Stevenson, along with manager Harvey Russell, have amassed decades of experience working with pop stars like Michael Jackson, Usher, Beyoncé and Jennifer Lopez—and now they’ve written a how-to guide for commercial dancer hopefuls looking to make it on the Hollywood dance scene. The Business of Dance truly emphasizes the nitty-gritty business aspects of making it. Chapters are devoted to finding an agent, marketing yourself, working between paid dance gigs, understanding unions and navigating the tricky politics of the biz. There’s no sugarcoating—Miller, Stevenson and Russell are up-front about the importance of who you know and dressing the part when it comes to booking jobs.

The Business of Dance is a great resource when it comes to cold, hard facts, too. The authors include typical daily rates for music videos, industrials, tours and commercial and television work, with real contract examples. There’s even a list of the top Los Angeles dance agencies, with contact information included. But the real gems of this book are the more nuanced tidbits, like how to gracefully ask choreographers about future gigs—with actual conversation starter suggestions. Miller, Stevenson and Russell have written an honest, informative guide to the commercial dance scene for young dancers.

Teachers Trending
Alwin Courcy, courtesy Ballet des Amériques

Carole Alexis has been enduring the life-altering after-effects of COVID-19 since April 2020. For months on end, the Ballet des Amériques director struggled with fevers, tingling, dizziness and fatigue. Strange bruising showed up on her skin, along with the return of her (long dormant) asthma, plus word loss and stuttering.

"For three days I would experience relief from the fever—then, boom—it would come back worse than before," Alexis says. "I would go into a room and not know why I was there." Despite the remission of some symptoms, the fatigue and other debilitating side effects have endured to this day. Alexis is part of a tens-of-thousands-member club nobody wants to be part of—she is a COVID-19 long-hauler.

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Teachers Trending

Annika Abel Photography, courtesy Griffith

When the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May catalyzed nationwide protests against systemic racism, the tap community resumed longstanding conversations about teaching a Black art form in the era of Black Lives Matter. As these dialogues unfolded on social media, veteran Dorrance Dance member Karida Griffith commented infrequently, finding it difficult to participate in a meaningful way.

"I had a hard time watching people have these conversations without historical context and knowledge," says Griffith, who now resides in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, after many years in New York City. "It was clear that there was so much information missing."

For example, she observed people discussing tap while demonstrating ignorance about Black culture. Or, posts that tried to impose upon tap the history or aesthetics of European dance forms.

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Studio Owners
Courtesy Tonawanda Dance Arts

If you're considering starting a summer program this year, you're likely not alone. Summer camp and class options are a tried-and-true method for paying your overhead costs past June—and, done well, could be a vehicle for making up for lost 2020 profits.

Plus, they might take on extra appeal for your studio families this year. Those struggling financially due to the pandemic will be in search of an affordable local programming option rather than an expensive, out-of-town intensive. And with summer travel still likely in question this spring as July and August plans are being made, your studio's local summer training option remains a safe bet.

The keys to profitable summer programming? Figuring out what type of structure will appeal most to your studio clientele, keeping start-up costs low—and, ideally, converting new summer students into new year-round students.

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