While recycling and reducing waste are the most popular ways to create a green workplace around a dance studio, many owners are also focusing their sustainable efforts on installing energy-efficient systems, using recycled products in design and improving indoor air quality.

“Athletes need clean indoor air and a toxin-free practice space for optimum performance," says Sarah Barnard, a green-expert designer and a LEED-accredited professional by the U.S. Green Building Council. “Investing in sustainable improvements not only demonstrates a commitment to the environment, but also to student dancers' health."


A recent report by the Office Depot Small Business Index shows that 61 percent of small businesses are actively trying to go greener, and 70 percent anticipate becoming more environmentally conscious in the next two years. But going green is more than a hip trend to latch onto. A dance studio that makes sustainability a priority can also save money, thanks to federal and state tax breaks or rebates from the government: For example, a federal tax deduction up to $1.80 per square foot is available for commercial buildings that save at least 50 percent of the heating and cooling energy of a building, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. (Check with your tax advisor and visit energystar.gov to learn more.)

It's common to initiate going green by cutting down on paper products, putting schedules, handbooks and registration forms online. While that's a great start and cost-effective, it's just the beginning. Converting your current lighting to LED bulbs and installing motion-sensor bathroom or dressing room light switches can cut down on energy usage and costs, letting you put the savings into your business. But if a slightly larger renovation is in the cards for you, reducing energy use, improving access to natural light and enhancing indoor air quality can help you save significant money on utilities and keep your dancers healthier through the years.

Reduce Energy Use with Natural Light

Heather Harris purposely thought of ways to help the environment when she was building her studio, Rush Studio of Dance in Edwardsville, Illinois, last year—and that meant thinking big. “When we were looking for materials for the building, we found a hotel that was looking to throw away wooden pallets, so we were able to use those for the walls and it cut costs dramatically, saving us thousands of dollars," Harris says.

One large-scale change that can help a studio go green, Barnard says, is to add skylights and/or solar tubes (roof-installed cylinders that channel daylight into rooms) to increase natural light without the distraction of street-facing windows. Solar tubes are often much cheaper than skylights, since they don't require major renovations.

In the next five years, Harris is also hoping to implement solar panels and is finding ways to save for this improvement through smaller green measures. “We have reduced the amount of electricity we use with more efficient appliances, saving about $300 a year. We use iPads for our paperwork and communication and continue to keep our energy consumption low," she says. “Our goal is to increase our use of recyclable materials to at least 90 percent in our infrastructure and materials, and we're well on our way to reaching this standard."

The amount of money the studio spends on paper has also dramatically dropped, going to $20 a quarter from $800, thanks to doing all registration online, conducting all credit card transactions in e-format and eliminating all paper, except for class cards. “It's so much more efficient to go paperless," she says. “Students and their families love the convenience and the commitment to green, so it's been a great marketing strategy, too."

Update Your Heating and Cooling Systems

Adding a bipolar ionization air-purification device in air-conditioning and heating systems results in significantly healthier indoor air quality in dance studios, says Tony Abate, a certified indoor environmentalist and vice president of operations at AtmosAir Solutions in Fairfield, Connecticut. “The average studio can be a breeding ground for mold, dust, odors, bacteria and airborne viruses due to poor air filtration and ventilation systems, which leads to dancers breathing poor air," he says. “It can cause illness, from simple colds to the flu. Plus poor indoor air quality can create terrible smells and odors."

AtmosAir Solutions has installed its clean indoor air devices in the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater facilities in Manhattan. It's a change that The Ailey Studios facility manager Michael Canarozzi says has made a noticeable difference. “In addition to helping the studios and locker rooms stay fresh-smelling, it has noticeably eliminated visible dust," he says.

The price for such a system is 80–90 cents per square foot, which can get expensive for larger spaces. But Jerry Lawson, national manager for small business and congregations network of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's ENERGY STAR, says there are less expensive ways to improve air quality without a total system overhaul. “First and foremost, during heating and cooling seasons, filters should be cleaned or replaced monthly. Not only will this save you money, it will also improve your air," he says. You can also purchase portable air purifiers (roughly $50–$300)—and remember to buy extra air filters.

Encourage Students to Make Eco-Friendly Choices

Cynthia King of Cynthia King Dance Studio in Brooklyn, New York, expanded her space last year and is moving into 6,000 square feet later this spring. “We're working with Build It Green! [a New York City–based nonprofit retail outlet for salvaged and surplus building materials] to use recycled, repurposed products. All our lockers, fixtures and lighting will be coming from there," King says. (To find re-use centers or previously used building materials across the United States, visit loadingdock.org/redo or planetreuse.com.)

A dedicated animal rights activist, King maintains a vegan experience at her studio. “Livestock is the primary contributor to greenhouse gases," she says, citing a 2006 United Nations report. “By moving to a plant-based diet and refraining from using animal products in our everyday lives, we can improve the world at large." King offers vegan food at all studio events and recitals, and leather shoes cannot be worn in her studio. Instead, her students wear Cynthia King vegan ballet slippers made from canvas with a nonslip, nonleather sole, which King created and sells online, in her studio and through a few retailers internationally. Jazz and modern students dance barefoot or wear synthetic or canvas shoes, and tap and hip-hop students are required to wear synthetic, leather-free shoes or sneakers.

King also planted butterfly-friendly flowers in front of her studio, as part of the Brooklyn Butterfly Project, an initiative to support bird and butterfly travel between neighborhoods. Young students love the garden, and by cultivating it, King is educating dancers about the environment and the responsibility we all share to preserve it.



The Conversation
Dance News
Photo by Rachel Papo

When Monica Stephenson was a student at Houston Ballet Academy, she was cast as Lauren Anderson's swan double in Swan Lake. The role was just a few walks in Odile's tutu and a veil as the scene changed, but it was a thrill for the 18-year-old Stephenson. Anderson, one of the few principal ballerinas of color, was the inspiration for Stephenson to attend Houston Ballet Academy.

For the role, wardrobe gave Stephenson a few pairs of Anderson's special-order pointe shoes that were brown to match her skin tone. "That really helped me," Stephenson says. "I wound up wearing her specs my entire career. Sometimes people don't realize when they're impacting a young person."

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Susannah Israel-Marchese with students at School of Ballet Hartford; photo by Frank Marchese, courtesy of SBH

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Courtesy Harlequin Floors

Just like your car, your studio needs periodic tune-ups to keep it humming along smoothly. If you take the time to address a few small fixes, your business will stand out. And you don't have to break the bank, either—you might be surprised how low-cost, DIY improvements can make a surprising difference.

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Here at Dance Teacher, we never miss out on a chance to help you be super EXTRA for the holidays. This month, we give you recipes to four different St. Patrick's Day treats you might consider handing out in class for your studio's celebration. Your dancers will love the festiveness, and you can use them as bribery for good behavior if you're feeling desperate (guilty 🙋♀️).

Check them out, and let us know what kinds of treats you like to make at your studio for St. Patrick's Day!

Oh, and you're welcome!

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Noe Leilani via @joandjax on Instagram

It's officially March, and you know what that means—green dance gear all around! Your students will come to class looking like jolly-green leprechauns, and you wouldn't have it any other way—it's way too much fun! To help you and your dancers find your best green getup, here are three green outfit ideas that will fulfill all your St. Patrick's Day needs. No pinching needed!

You're welcome!

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Getty Images

Cleaning competition numbers is a process—and a difficult one at that. Making your dancers look cohesive without draining them of their passion and individuality can feel like an impossible task.

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Site Network
Emily Giacalone, modeled by Nicole Kennedy of Marymount Manhattan College

We get it: Dance is exhausting, and sometimes all you want to do during a quick break is, well, nothing. Bill Evans, director of the Evans Somatic Dance Institute, recommends the following options, which are both relaxing and recuperative for the stresses dance puts on your body. From energizing restorative poses to deep breathing, here are five ways to make your downtime work for you.

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For a young student in the process of developing bodily awareness, a hands-on adjustment by a teacher can mean the difference between safe and incorrect alignment. But in many K–12 schools today, a hands-on approach is frowned upon or sometimes even forbidden. With dance being a kinesthetic art, this limitation presents a predicament for K–12 dance teachers. Here, two teachers share their views on whether to use touch in class and, if so, how they go about it.

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Like many dance traditions, it started at the Paris Opéra. (Edgar Degas' "The Dance Class")

The dance world is brimming with superstitions. One of the most common is never to say "good luck" before a show, since everyone knows uttering the phrase is, in fact, very bad luck. Actors say "break a leg" instead. But since that phrase isn't exactly dance-friendly, you and your dance friends probably tell each other "merde" before taking the stage.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, "merde" is a French exclamation that loosely translates to, er, "poop." So how did dancers end up saying "merde" to each other instead of "good luck"?

To learn more, we spoke to Raymond Lukens, associate emeritus of the American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum, and Kelli Rhodes-Stevens, professor of dance at Oklahoma City University. Read on—and the next time you exchange "merdes" with your castmates before a show, you'll know why.

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When it comes to running a thriving dance studio, Cindy Clough knows what she's talking about. As executive director of Just For Kix and a studio owner for more than four decades, she's all too aware of the unique challenges the job presents, from teaching to scheduling to managing employees and clients.

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via YouTube

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When Danica Paulos left Southern California at 17 to train in New York City at The Ailey School while she finished high school, she had no idea that she'd be dancing with the professional company within four years. She completed the school's professional program (on scholarship), then landed a spot with Ailey II. After a year, she was invited to replace an injured dancer in the main company, and when her Ailey II season ended, Robert Battle invited her to continue full-time.

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