Studio Owners
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Jacki Ford recently wrapped up the first year of her new studio, District Dance NYC, a new dance training program for kids ages 3–10 in the Financial District of Manhattan.

Starting a studio at any location in the country is a major undertaking, but taking it on in New York City contains a whole other level of complexity. We sat down with the former Rockette and Pace faculty member in commercial dance to get the inside scoop on how she's done it, and what her plans are for the future of DiDa NYC.

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Studio Owners
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There are a lot of things to think about when creating your studio space—floors, waiting-room furniture, wall decor, stereos, lighting, and perhaps most overlooked, mirrors. Your dancers will spend most of their time staring at themselves in those bad boys, so you better be sure they're super-awesome!

But where to start? Most of us aren't mirror experts—we're dance experts!

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Studio Owners
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Accountant Jessica Scheitler, founder of Financial Groove, has noticed a recent trend. More and more of her dance-studio-owner clients are being audited because of the way they classify faculty and staff—whether as employees or contractors. "I had four or five audits come in at the same time, all from different states," she says. "That tells me something's going on."

Studio owners tend to first hire faculty as contractors, Scheitler notes, since that's the easiest route. "You cut someone a check, and you don't have to take taxes out," she explains. "But as studios grow, most teachers and staff end up qualifying to be employees in the eyes of the government. And if you're audited and the IRS finds that your staff should be paid as employees, they'll assess back taxes—and interest."

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Studio Owners
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We all know that we need to include agreements in our contracts that address tuition, billing and changing or dropping classes, but what about the nitty-gritty details you may not have considered? You don't want to get caught off-guard by a lawsuit or uncooperative parent simply because you didn't cover your bases.

To help you stay on top of things, here are three important things you should put in your studio contract.

You're welcome!

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Q: It seems like all the studios around me are dealing with falling-outs related to teacher drama. How can I create an atmosphere in my studio where this won't happen?

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Studio Owners
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Rarely does a week in the summer go by without at least one of your classes needing a substitute teacher. Your team of teachers has worked tirelessly all year, and after surviving Nationals (or your studio's big summer intensive) they deserve to take a family vacation or two.

But filling those classes with substitutes can get tricky in the middle of July and August. EVERYONE is going on vacation at this time of year—not just your staff teachers.

To keep you from getting left high and dry this summer, we recommend you beef up that go-to sub list, so that if one teacher can't do it, another one can. No need to cancel class—we've got you covered!

You're welcome!

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Lani Corson. Photo by Royce Burgess, courtesy of Corson

Aerial work is growing in popularity in the dance world these days. Don't believe us? Check out this Dance Magazine article! If you're a studio owner who didn't grow up with aerial training (let's face it, how many of us really did?), then you may be feeling a little apprehensive about what to look for when bringing on a new aerialist faculty member. You know exactly what you want from your ballet teachers, your jazz teachers, your tap teachers, heck—even your tumbling teachers! Aerial, however, is a whole other ballgame.

To help you feel confident you're bringing in a teacher who is safe for your dancers, we sat down with Lani Corson, NYC aerialist, circus performer, adjunct professor at Pace University and teacher at Aerial Arts NYC, to get the inside scoop on exactly what you should be looking for.

Enjoy!

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Studio Owners
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Dance teachers have a lot of strengths (communicating corrections, choreographing gorgeous movement, planning excellent recitals, cleaning technique—just to name a few) but when it comes to interior design—talent isn't exactly a given. So when studio owners remodel or build, worrying about the decor can feel a little overwhelming (you've got just a few too many other things to worry about, don't you?).

No need to fear! In 2019 we have Pinterest, which shows us all the latest trends we should know about. To help you make the best design decisions for your studio, we've compiled a list of public Pinterest pins we think you'll love.

You're welcome!

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Studio Owners
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Fundraising for your studio—whether it's to raise money for your competition team dancers, fund a much-needed renovation or offer a family in need a scholarship—can feel like pulling teeth. You've done the bake sales, the car washes, the candy bars. Why not try something new? These four owners stepped up their fundraising game with fresh, fun and, most importantly, profitable ideas.

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Studio Owners
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Any savvy studio owner knows that bringing in guest artists is a good idea, whether for a two-hour master class or a weekend spent choreographing recital or competition routines. Your students learn new styles, get exposed to different teaching approaches and have the chance to network with professionals. But it can be a challenge to bring in the guest you want—paying for airfare, lodging, meals, hourly teaching rates, choreography fees—while keeping your bottom line in the black. And you want to keep master class fees reasonable for your dancers. But there are ways to economize, if you're willing to think outside the box.

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Studio Owners
Photo by Erin Baiano

Makeup and hair pro Chuck Jensen offers tips on tasteful glitter makeup, false eyelash application and a dance 'do for short hair.

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Studio Owners

Don't run everything full-out. Danie Beck's competitive dancers mark and space their routines and practice entrances and exits. "They've been dancing those numbers all season at competitions," she says. "But we do have to go through lighting and tech cues with them, since they don't have those in competition."

Give your babies longer tech slots. "Our preschoolers get 25 minutes on the stage during tech, no matter what," says Joe Naftal of Dance Connection in Islip, New York. "We think it's important for them to have that time—then they're much more comfortable onstage during the recital. Fewer will cry or not go on."

Let the cameras snap and videos roll Naftal allows parents to take photos and video during dress rehearsal, when students are in full hair, makeup and costume. (Neither are allowed at the performance.) For optimal digital viewpoints, he reserves the first 10 rows of the audience for parents of whatever number is onstage. "You're going to get a better photo and video during dress rehearsal that way," he says.

QUICK TIPS

  • Students should practice entering and leaving in a blackout.
  • Run your dress rehearsal in the show's order to get the overall timing down pat.
  • If you're designing lighting or sound cues during a dress rehearsal, seat a dependable teacher in the audience to keep an eye on students' spacing, energy, timing and precision.
  • Assign a veteran backstage dresser to keep track and warn you of any surprisingly quick costume changes.


Q: I want to make an opening speech at my recital to encourage studio spirit and pride, since it's definitely lacking at my studio. What can I say without making it sound like a commercial?

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