Dance News

This Conference Took Place Solely to Solve the Not-Enough-Men-in-Dance Problem

Photo courtesy of Barry Blumenfeld

Almost exactly one month ago, Barry Blumenfeld was in Morgantown, West Virginia, finally surrounded by his people: fellow male dancers. As one of the organizers of the first-ever Men in Dance Conference—along with Yoav Kaddar, Chris Rutt and Andrew Jannetti—held June 29–July 1 at the campus of West Virginia University, Blumenfeld was ready to brainstorm with his peers (both men AND women) about why it's so hard to attract male students to dance—and to retain them. The idea for the conference grew out of an online special-interest group Blumenfeld had created under the National Dance Education Organization umbrella. A frequent attendee at NDEO's national conference, Blumenfeld found himself naturally gravitating toward the other male dancers and teachers present at NDEO gatherings. "We were about four percent of the conference—we called ourselves the four percent," he jokes. "We kept talking about what's going on with men in dance, but we were just talking." That's where his idea for a conference on male dance was born.


Yoav Kaddar, standing, heads the dance program at West Virginia University and helped plan the conference. Photo courtesy of Blumenfeld

The Men in Dance conference, he is pleased to report, was by all means a success. With a group of about 60 attendees (from as far away as the United Kingdom), the conference explored topics like: Identifying and Exploring New Masculinities in Dance; Mentoring Male Dancers in a Culture of Gender Neutrality; and Who We Be: Black Masculinities in a Contemporary African Dance Company.

For Blumenfeld, his biggest takeaway was that the parents of male dancers are the lynchpin of whether or not a male student continues dancing. "The place it breaks down in this country is parents," he says. "That's what I heard across the board. You could have a public school that's doing really well, but the parents are against dance as a performance art." Dance as a social matter, he's found, isn't a taboo. "We have to educate the parents. When you win the parents, the kids are then free to do what they naturally do," he says.

Highest on the post-conference agenda, Blumenfeld says, are building a web resource with forums, a networking and registry base, curriculum ideas, testimonies, links to relevant research and information to share with parents. Though he doesn't envision the conference happening annually—maybe every two or three years, instead—he and the other attendees are committed to offering resources and outlets for connection and sharing.

Dance Teachers Trending
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Amanda Donahue, ATC, working with a student in her clinic in the Palladino School of Dance at Dean College. Courtesy Dean College

The Joan Phelps Palladino School of Dance at Dean College is one of just 10 college programs in the U.S. with a full-time athletic trainer devoted solely to its dancers. But what makes the school even more unique is that certified athletic trainer Amanda Donahue isn't just available to the students for appointments and backstage coverage—she's in the studio with them and collaborating with dance faculty to prevent injuries and build stronger dancers.

"Gone are the days when people would say, 'Don't go to the gym, you'll bulk up,'" says Kristina Berger, who teaches Horton and Hawkins technique as an assistant professor of dance. "We understand now that cross-training is actually vital, and how we've embraced that at Dean is extremely rare. For one thing, we're not sharing an athletic trainer with the football players, who require a totally different skillset." For another, she says, the faculty and Donahue are focused on giving students tools to prolong their careers.

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Photo via Claudia Dean World on YouTube

Most parents start off pretty clueless when it comes to doing their dancer's hair. If you don't want your students coming in with elastic-wrapped bird's nests on their heads, you may want to give them some guidance. But who has time to teach each individual parent how to do their child's hair? Not you! So, we have a solution: YouTube hair tutorials.

These three classical hairdo vids are exactly what your dancers need to look fabulous and ready to work every time they step in your studio.

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Courtesy Alternative Balance

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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.

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Courtesy Turn It Up

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Getty Images

Enrollment is an issue that plagues brand-new and veteran studio owners alike. Without a steady stream of revenue from new students coming through your doors, your studio won't survive—no matter how crisp your dancers' technique is or how well-produced your recitals are.

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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:

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