News
Courtesy Shake the Ground

Dance competitions were among the first events to be shut down when the COVID-19 pandemic exploded in the U.S. in mid-March, and they've been among the last able to restart.

So much of the traditional structure of the competition—large groups of dancers and parents from dozens of different studios; a new city every week—simply won't work in our new pandemic world.

How, then, have competitions been getting by, and what does the future look like?

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Dance Teacher Awards

Who knew that a virtual awards ceremony could bring our community together in such a powerful way?

Last night, we celebrated the annual Dance Teacher Awards, held virtually for the first time. Though it was different from what we're used to, this new setting inspired us to get creative in celebrating our six extraordinary honorees. In fact, one of the most enlivening parts of the event was one that could only happen in a Zoom room: Watching as countless tributes, stories and congratulations poured in on the chat throughout the event. Seeing firsthand the impact our awardees have had on so many lives reminded us why we chose to honor them.

If you missed the Awards (or just want to relive them), you're in luck—they are now available to watch on-demand. We rounded up some of the highlights:

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Dance Teacher Awards
Erin Baiano, courtesy NYCB

Missed the 2020 Dance Teacher Awards? Watch them on-demand here.

Most of us know Wendy Whelan for fearlessly approaching difficult tasks, whether creating a role in a new ballet, undergoing hip surgery (on camera, no less), embarking on a self-produced touring project or taking on a brand-new leadership role at New York City Ballet, where she was a principal dancer for 23 years.

But what recently, uncharacteristically, scared the now associate artistic director of NYCB? Teaching her first Instagram Live ballet class from her second home in upstate New York during the pandemic, which she says gave her a panic attack.

"I was insecure about the connection I was going to make," she says. "I was insecure about not being able to see the dancers. I was afraid I was not going to be able to feed every person. I wanted to be a perfect teacher and fulfill everybody's needs perfectly. And I had to throw all that out."

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Dance Teacher Awards
From left: Wendy Whelan, photo by Erin Baiano, courtesy NYCB; Deborah Damast, photo by Jaqlin Medlock, courtesy Teachers College, Columbia University; Stephanie and Bo Spassoff, photo by Tiffany Yoon, courtesy The Rock School; Kim Black, photo courtesy Black; Patricia Dye, photo courtesy Dye

Missed the 2020 Dance Teacher Awards? Watch them on-demand here.

The Dance Teacher Awards are here, and this year we're going virtual. The upside of a virtual awards ceremony? We can invite all of you!

Though we'll be in a new setting (Zoom!), the purpose of the Dance Teacher Awards remains the same: celebrating outstanding educators for their contributions to our field.

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Studio Owners
Melanie Gibbs mailed her students "love packages" with items like bean bags. Photo courtesy Gibbs

There's no question that dance studios have adapted their in-person classes to online in creative and business-savvy ways. In the past months, we've learned that online classes are a necessary and valuable way to keep students dancing and studios running. Many studios may choose to continue online learning even as they are allowed to reopen in-person, either as a supplement or a plan B.

But Zoom fatigue is real. If your area is highly impacted by the virus and you are unable to reopen anytime soon, you'll need to find other ways to engage your students that don't involve staring at a screen. Offering offscreen activities can demonstrate to your studio families that the value you provide can't be contained by an electronic device—and ensure that your students are having a dynamic and meaningful dance experience.

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News
Getty Images

We don't need to tell you that dance studios are the heart of the dance industry. Or, that many of them are struggling right now due to COVID-19.

So instead, we'll tell you some good news: Apolla Performance Wear—who you may know for their popular compression "shocks"—is teaming up with Florida-based Dance Arts Centre to raise funds that will go directly to supporting dance studios hard hit by the pandemic.

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News
Photo by Christian Peacock

*Update 6/15: Allen is still accepting donations through her website for another week.

By now, you've probably heard the good news: Debbie Allen is hosting a 12-hour digital dance-a-thon, and it's going to be epic. (Plus, it will be raising funds for dancers, choreographers and dance teachers whose jobs have been derailed by the impact of COVID-19!)

But we've got even better news for studio owners: Allen wants you to join her live to talk about how your studio has been handling the COVID-19 crisis.

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Studio Owners
Getty Images

It's easy to come up with excuses not to spend time and money on marketing right now.

You may have lost revenue due to canceled classes and recitals and need to be tight with your budget. You may fear appearing opportunistic during a global crisis. You may worry that people just don't have any money to spend right now.

While these are all understandable, they miss the larger point: Marketing is ultimately about building relationships with your community, says Gretchen Fox, CEO and founder of MTO Agency. And these relationships matter more now than ever—especially within our tight-knit dance community.

We talked to the experts at MTO about best practices for marketing during difficult times, and the trends that all dance companies should be paying attention to right now. And to get even deeper into your questions about everything from promoting your virtual classes to making up for lost recital revenue, join us for a (free!) live webinar with MTO, June 25 at 3 pm ET.

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