Q: In this period of economic uncertainty, my family is looking at our budget from every angle. Summer enrollment at the dance studio is now—but no one is sure when we'll actually be able to head into the studio. I want to support small businesses like our dance studio, but I also can't help but wonder: Are virtual classes worth it?
Q: My teen says she wants to quit dance, but I'm not so sure she should. She's very talented, and I think she's just tired. Plus, we've paid for the semester and recital. Help!
Watching through the studio windows—or even from the sidelines in a Mommy and Me class—can surely make parents wonder what exactly our little tykes are getting out of weekly ballet lessons. After all, they're repeating the same things class after class. Are they bored? Are they progressing? Why are they doing that again?
Q: My tween is begging me to go to a faraway summer intensive, claiming "all my friends are going." How do I know if she's ready?
A: It can feel like a rite of passage for serious dancers to attend an intensive at a major ballet school. They dance all day and often explore the area's surroundings or attend performances on weekends. But living away from home, having a roommate and living the "dorm life" can be a challenge.
The soutenu is a basic step often used in choreography as a transition between turning sequences or before more virtuosic movements. In class, Deanna McBrearty concentrates on the step's coordination.
Christy Curtis had been teaching advanced-level jazz in the Raleigh, North Carolina, area for nearly 20 years when she decided to open her own studio. After careful consideration, the five-foot dynamo took a leap and, in 2005, opened CC & Co. Dance Complex. In the first year, Curtis enrolled about 75 students—the majority of whom were advanced dancers—and as her fledgling business grew to include preschool, elementary and high school classes in all styles, she looked to others for guidance. She hired a business manager and often picked the brains of close friends and mentors. "The best advice I've received," she says, "is that if you're not the best at something, find someone who is and ask for help."
"I describe it as organized chaos," says Kimberly Rishi with a laugh, as she hunts for a quiet space inside her 12,000-square-foot studio in Ashburn, Virginia. In any given week, Studio Bleu Dance Center's 11 dance studios accommodate 800 enrolled students, 52 staff members, adults who take drop-in classes, plus kids in vocal and piano programs and an affiliated ballet conservatory. "It may look like there's always a party going on," Rishi says, "but that's not the case. There's a schedule, and everyone knows where they're headed."
When Rishi took the reins in 2003, there were only 80 students, 20 of whom were competitive. Today, 300 dancers are enrolled for the competition program. And just this winter, she launched a musical theater program, taking in triple-threat hopefuls in the area. While the Ashburn area (outside of Washington, DC) is burgeoning, faculty member Heidi Moe says Studio Bleu's growth is due to more than changing demographics. It's the direct result of Rishi's business experience and leadership ability.