Taking Care of Business

I look forward every year to working on the studio business issue. Although we discuss business every month, June is when we dive in head first. We’re pleased to bring you the story of how Joffrey Ballet School in New York has completely transformed its organization to better meet the demands of 21st-century dance training. After operating quietly in Greenwich Village since the 1950s, the school has raised its visibility and broadened its curriculum. In “The Fall and Rise of Joffrey Ballet School,” business editor Rachel Rizzuto tells how—and why—they did it.

There are few topics that rankle studio directors more than competition from a former staff member. How can you protect your business? Turns out that becoming a better manager can go a lot farther than using the typical noncompete or nondisclosure agreement. See “Why Noncompetes Rarely Work."

It’s Father’s Day. While you’re honoring the men in your life, don’t forget the men of your studio family. In “Beyond the Daddy Daughter Dance,” Nancy Wozny chats with three studio directors about the best ways to tap into this valuable source of volunteers. “Dads like having something to do other than waiting around for the kids,” says Amanda Plesa of In Motion Dance Project in Orlando.

And yet, we’re not strictly business this month. As in every issue of Dance Teacher, our pages are filled with advice and information for educators working in a variety of settings. For instance, check out Aaron Tolson’s elegant instruction, in “How I Teach Rhythm Tap." And if you find yourself with a class filled with dancers of different levels, you’ll want to take note of “One Class Fits All."

Attention studio owners: We consistently hear that one of the best things about our Dance Teacher Summit (August 1–3, New York City) is the exclusive studio owners’ forum that kicks off the conference. Don’t miss this chance to share your successes, your challenges and your questions with other dance studio owners. You must be an owner to attend, and the session is moderated by a team of industry veterans—the Ambassadors—whom you’ve met in our monthly interviews, “Seen and Heard at the Dance Teacher Summit.” Danceteachersummit.com

Photo by Matthew Murphy
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All photos by Ryan Heffington

"Annnnnnnd—we're back!"

Ryan Heffington is kneeling in front of his iPhone, looking directly into the camera, smiling behind his bushy mustache. He's in his house in the desert near Joshua Tree, California, phone propped on the floor so it stays steady, his bright shorty shorts, tank top and multiple necklaces in full view. Music is already playing—imagine you're at a club—and soon he's swaying and bouncing from side to side, the beat infusing his bones.

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Evelyn Cisneros-Legate. Photo by Beau Pearson, Courtesy Ballet West

Evelyn Cisneros-Legate is bringing her hard-earned expertise to Ballet West. The former San Francisco Ballet star is taking over all four campuses of The Frederick Quinney Lawson Ballet West Academy as the school's new director.

Cisneros-Legate, whose mother put her in ballet classes in an attempt to help her overcome her shyness, trained at the San Francisco Ballet School and School of American Ballet before joining San Francisco Ballet as a full company member in 1977. She danced with the company for 23 years, breaking barriers as the first Mexican American to become a principal dancer in the U.S., and has graced the cover of Dance Magazine no fewer than three times.

As an educator, Cisneros-Legate has served as ballet coordinator at San Francisco Ballet, principal of Boston Ballet School's North Shore Studio and artistic director of after-school programming at the National Dance Institute (NDI). Dance Teacher spoke with her about her new position, her plans for the academy and leading in the time of COVID-19.

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The author with Maurice Hines. Photo by Anthony R. Phillips, courtesy Hopkins

In March, prior to sheltering in place due to the coronavirus outbreak, my husband and I traveled from New York City to Miami to screen our award-winning documentary, Maurice Hines: Bring Them Back, at the Miami Film Festival.

Our star, Tony Award–nominated dancer and choreographer Maurice Hines joined us in Miami for the festival—stepping and repeating on the opening night red carpet, sharing anecdotes from his illustrious seven-decade career with local tap students, and holding court at a cocktail mixer with lively female fans.

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