Centerstage Starz in Littleton, CO

An attractive studio makes a great impression. “Its appearance is a reflection on your business,” says Michele Hamilton, owner of West Virginia–based Michele’s One Step Up Studio. “Parents want to know that their kids are in a clean, safe place.” For many studio owners, finding the time and funds to regularly upgrade furnishings, fixtures and equipment is key to long-term success. Here’s how Hamilton and other studio directors prioritize and tend to their studio environments.

 

 

Michele Hamilton

Michele’s One Step Up Studio

(106 students)

St. Mary’s, WV

“I like to buy one new piece of equipment each year,” says Hamilton. “Whatever money we have left over after year-end recitals and doing all of the payouts, I try to put back into the business before we take our summer break.” Purchases in recent years have included a wireless speaker system and an iPod dock, a tumbling incline and several back handspring machines, and miscellaneous decor items. “The amount we can spend fluctuates from year to year,” says Hamilton, adding that it usually ranges between $300 and $500.

This is on top of funds she sets aside for unforeseen issues. Hamilton cites one instance at her affiliate studio where a student fell into a large 72" mirror, causing it to shatter. “Luckily, insurance covered the damage and no one was hurt,” she says. “I have been fortunate enough to avoid a large replacement or having to fix major damages on my own.”

 

Danette Tomasello

5678 Dance Studio

(Approximately 900 students)

Modesto, CA

Co-owner Danette Tomasello’s priority is to keep her lobby looking shiny and new. Since many families have younger children and come from relatively far away, they tend to spend a lot of time at the studio. “It’s a must that our lobby be clean and presentable, which is tough when you’re working with kids,” she says.
Tomasello has the carpets cleaned every three months and also maintains a weekly contract with a janitorial company. Keeping the chairs in good condition has been one of the biggest challenges. “Our chairs go through lots of wear-and-tear from kids standing and playing on them,” she says. Last winter break, she had all of the chairs reupholstered—stretching her yearly upkeep budget from $2,300 to $3,300. To cover the difference, money was pulled from studio savings and a number of day camps were held during winter break to raise funds.

“With the economy, it can be hard to decide where to put your money, but having a fresh face for our lobby was worth it,” says Tomasello. Other improvements in recent years have included a shelf for dance bags and repainting the walls and hanging new photos. She also gives regular attention to the flooring, stripping and recoating the floors in bathrooms and break rooms twice a year.

To help manage cash flow, Tomasello often turns to barter arrangements with studio parents. “Many of our fathers are in construction and can trade out for various things in exchange for free classes,” she says.

 

Lindsey Evered-Ceilley

Centerstage Starz

(Approximately 600 students)

Littleton, CO

Six years ago, a water main break at Centerstage Starz flooded the entire studio, leaving the floors warped and destroyed. Rather than fix the damage, owner Taami Bash chose to start from scratch. “It was the Field of Dreams mentality; we decided to build our dream studio,” says Lindsey Evered-Ceilley, the studio’s director of business operations. “We wanted a state-of-the-art facility and a beautiful place where kids could come and express themselves.”

Bash found a new space twice the size just a block away and did a “complete build-out.” Today, Centerstage Starz is a 12,000-square-foot studio featuring five dance studios with suspended wood flooring and one-way viewing mirrors, complete digital sound system, locker rooms and snack bar.

Owner Bash earmarks a set amount monthly for improvements, but Evered-Ceilley says finances can be challenging during the slower summer months. Revenue from class enrollment must first cover routine monthly expenses like teacher salaries, construction loans and rent. To pay for extras, the studio holds Zumba classes and rents out studio space to capoeira instructors, ballroom programs and visiting conventions. DT


 

A former hip-hop, dance fitness and cheerleading instructor, Jen Jones is a Los Angeles–based freelance writer.

Photo by Antoinette DeGeorge, courtesy of Centerstage Starz


Dance Teachers Trending
Roshe (center) teaching at Steps on Broadway in New York City. Photo by Jacob Hiss, courtesy of Roshe

Although Debbie Roshe's class doesn't demand perfect technique or mastering complicated tricks, her intricate musicality is what really challenges students. "Holding weird counts to obscure music is harder," she says of her Fosse-influenced jazz style, "but it's more interesting."

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Alternative Balance
Courtesy Alternative Balance

As a dance teacher, you know more than anyone that things can go wrong—students blank on choreography onstage, costumes don't fit and dancers quit the competition team unexpectedly. Why not apply that same mindset to your status as an independent contractor at a studio or as a studio owner?

Insurance is there to give you peace of mind, even when the unexpected happens. (Especially since attorney fees can be expensive, even when you've done nothing wrong as a teacher.) Taking a preemptive approach to your career—insuring yourself—can save you money, time and stress in the long run.

We talked to expert Miriam Ball of Alternative Balance Professional Group about five scenarios in which having insurance would be key.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teachers Trending
Photo by Brian Guilliaux, courtesy of Coudron

Eric Coudron understands firsthand the hurdles competition dancers face when falling in love with ballet. Now the director of ballet at Prodigy Dance and Performing Arts Centre in Frisco, Texas, Coudron trained as a competition dancer when he was growing up. "It's such a structured form of dance that when they come back to it after all of the other styles they are training in, they don't feel at home at the barre," he says.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teachers Trending
Kendra Portier. Photo by Scott Shaw, courtesy of Gibney Dance

As an artist in residence at the University of Maryland in College Park, Kendra Portier is in a unique position. After almost a decade of performing with David Dorfman Dance and three years earning her MFA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she's using her two-year gig at UMD (through spring 2020) to "see how teaching in academia really feels," she says. It's also given her the rare opportunity to feel grounded. "I'm going to be here for two years," she says, which offers her the chance to figure out the answers to some hard questions. "What does it mean to not dance for somebody else?" she asks. "What does it mean to take my work more seriously? To realize I really like making work, and figuring out how that can happen in an academic place."

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Turn It Up Dance Challenge
Courtesy Turn It Up

With back-to-back classes, early-morning stage calls and remembering to pack countless costume accessories, competition and convention weekends can feel like a whirlwind for even the most seasoned of studios. Take the advice of Turn It Up Dance Challenge master teachers Alex Wong and Maud Arnold and president Melissa Burns on how to make the experience feel meaningful and successful for your dancers:

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Health
Deanna Paolantonio leads a workshop. Photo courtesy of Paolantonio

Deanna Paolantonio had been interested in body positivity long before diabetes ever crossed her mind. As a Zumba and Pilates instructor who had just earned her master's degree in dance studies, she focused her research on the relationship between fitness and body image for women and young girls. Then, at age 25, just as she was accepted into the PhD program at York University in Toronto, she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D).

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by The Studio Director

As a studio owner, you're probably pretty used to juggling. Running a business is demanding, with new questions and challenges pulling your attention in a million different directions each day.

But there's a solution that could be saving you time and money (and sanity!). Studio management systems are easy-to-use software programs designed for the particular needs of studio owners, offering tools like billing, enrollment, inventory and emails, all in one place. The right studio management system can help you handle the day-to-day tasks that bog you down as a business owner, leaving you more time for the most important work—like connecting with students and planning creative curriculums for them. Plus, these systems can keep you from spending extra money on hiring multiple specialists or using multiple platforms to meet your administrative needs.

So how do you make sure you're choosing a studio management system that offers the same quality that your studio does? We talked to The Studio Director—whose studio management system provides a whole host of streamlined features—about the must-haves for any system, and the bonuses that make an excellent product stand out:

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Robin Nasatir (center) with Peter Brown and Vicki Gunter. Photo by Christian Peacock

On a sunny Thursday morning in Berkeley, California, Robin Nasatir leads her modern class through a classic seated floor warm-up full of luscious curves and tilts to the soothing grooves of Bobby McFerrin. Though her modern style is rooted in traditional José Limón and Erick Hawkins techniques, the makeup of her class is far from conventional. Her students range in age from 30 all the way to early 80s.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Getty Images

Q: I need advice on proper classroom management for dancers in K–12—I can't get them to focus.

A: Classroom management in a K–12 setting is no different than in a studio. No matter where you teach, I recommend using a positive-reinforcement approach first. As a general rule, what you pay attention to is what you get. When a student acts out, it's generally done in order to gain attention. Rather than giving attention to them for inappropriate behavior, call out other students who are exhibiting the positive behaviors you desire. Name the good actions, and all of your students will quickly learn what it takes to be noticed.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips

For an aspiring professional dancer, an unexpected injury can feel like a death sentence to a career that hasn't even started. The recovery process following an injury can be one of the most grueling and heartbreaking experiences a performer will ever face. In times like these, dance teachers have the power to boost or weaken a dancer's morale.

With that in mind, we've compiled a list of do's and don'ts for talking to a seriously injured dancer.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Getty Images

Q: Last season I had three dancers on my junior team who struggled all year. They've trained with me for years, yet they keep sliding farther behind their classmates. What should I do?

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox