Studio Owners
Talent Factory dancers performed The Clarity of Being Alive by Tara Iacobucci for NYCDA Foundation. Photo by Chris Coates-Mitchell, courtesy of NYCDA

Talk about being close: Dana and Hugo Adames have been together 18 years and have two kids who love to dance—and the couple owns The Talent Factory Performing Arts Centre, with two locations, 550 students and a third site in the works. Dana, artistic director, and Hugo, general manager, have a method for how they handle everything from parenting to business decisions: "We work as partners. We look at the pros and cons together before making any decisions," Dana says. "We have a mutual respect for each other and really talk about everything, all the time."

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News
Igor Burlak, Courtesy Boston Ballet

Mark your calendars!

This Tuesday, July 7, join pre-professional dancers across the globe in an inaugural live-stream event celebrating World Ballet School Day 2020. Made "by students for students," the event aims to bring young generations of dancers together in an international recognition of the unifying power of ballet, dance and the art world at large. The program, featuring dancers from a dozen internationally renowned ballet academies and organizations, will be broadcasted online on the WBSD website at 7 am EDT and will be available for viewers on-demand for one month following the premiere.

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Studio Owners
Sacramento Ballet began offering online classes to its SB School students on April 1. Photo by Scott Beckner, courtesy of Sacramento Ballet

On Wednesday, March 11—two weeks ahead of a statewide stay-at-home mandate—Colorado Conservatory of Dance executive director Richard Cowden and artistic director Julia Wilkinson Manley made the difficult decision to take all of CCD's classes online. As you'd expect, it wasn't easy. "This chapter in our future book will be called 'The 96 Hours From Hell,'" says Cowden, laughing, who joined the Broomfield-based nonprofit and its conservatory program of 200 students in 2018. "Over four days, we got together with our staff and faculty, all hands on deck, and launched our entire conservatory of classes online." You've probably done something similar at your own studio, scrambling to orient yourself and your staff with a video-conferencing platform (like Zoom, a popular choice among owners) for classes, as sweeping stay-at-home orders preclude in-person instruction.

COVID-19 continues to disrupt daily life as we know it, which means the state of your studio has been evolving often and rapidly. But regardless of what lies ahead, the skills you're learning as you pivot your business from in-person to online will come in handy again, no matter the crisis you're facing. We've compiled COVID-19-specific advice from the leadership of four studios and schools, in an effort to help you communicate and operate as effectively—and thriftily, and smoothly, and normally—as possible.

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Studio Owners
Pam Simpson of Forte Arts Center. Photo courtesy of Forte Arts Center

As COVID-19 forced state after state into some form of lockdown this spring, most studio owners realized right away that they needed to evolve quickly—or else watch their enrollment plummet. Online classes became the key to business continuity, but with so little time to adapt material to remote learning and train faculty members on new technology, there was little room for finesse. But that's what Pam Simpson focused on first with her 600-student studio, Forte Arts Center, in Morris and Channahon, IL. She knew she needed to predict pedagogical issues that might crop up with Zoom dance education before they happened and offer solutions to keep students happy—and enrolled. And she knew the key to that was to invest in training her staff.

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Health & Body
Getty Images

As dance studios all over the world began to close, teachers scrambled to support their students and transition dance education—seemingly overnight—online. You've likely spent some sleepless nights worrying about your students, stressing over how to make their living-room barre impactful, or staring bleary-eyed at Zoom trying to prepare for class the next day.

Much concern has been directed at the well-being of dancers as they navigate the unprecedented circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, and rightfully so. But as a teacher you also are living in a time of great stress and grief, with the eyes of your students trained on you for leadership. Like your students, you have lost your final performance, or the chance to hug your seniors goodbye.

But instead of giving yourself space to grieve, you may have pivoted to creating virtual recitals and summer intensives. In all of the worrying about your students, you may have forgotten to take care of yourself.

It's essential to invest in your own wellness, for your sake and your students'. By taking the time to grieve what you've lost, and establishing good self-care practices, you will be better able to support your students.

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Health & Body
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Q: How can students build jump work into their practice while at home? Should they wear tennis shoes and jump only on carpet?


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Studio Owners
Photo courtesy of Shanna Kirkpatrick

Planning a recital pre-COVID-19 was enough to make even the most well-organized dance studio owner feel stressed. Add a global pandemic into the mix, and you've got a recipe for a nervous breakdown—not to mention a serious revenue shortfall. Good thing studio owners have resilience and creativity to spare: These three owners reimagined and restructured their recitals in only weeks. While their recital revenue will still take a hit this year, they've found inspiring ways to keep the families involved in and excited about end-of-year recitals—and, most important, eager to return as loyal customers, come fall.

Though each state offers its own plan and protocols for incremental reopening—with varying numbers of COVID-19 cases and trajectories—the one certainty across the board is that nothing is certain. Reopening may require some serious backtracking if it results in a surge of new outbreaks, so flexibility will remain a key part of any studio's success.

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Teacher Voices
An alumna of Dance Spectrum in Buffalo (now a nurse in Boston) joins a Zoom class led by her favorite instructor in the hospital break room. Photo courtesy of Dance Spectrum

All that I have ever thought our dance community could be, we have become as we have faced the COVID-19 crisis. Thousands of studio owners and dance teachers are carrying on in any way they can. Kids are continuing to dance—even if it's in their living rooms in front of the TV. Our community has not stopped dancing or spreading the joy that it brings to all.

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