Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Introduce yourself at your recital please! And a few other promo tips for your show

Recital season has arrived. It's been awhile since my last blog post, but I'm still here!
Our theme this year is Elements of Dance - Earth Wind and Fire.  Should be a great show with fabulous costumes from Revolution, Weismanns, Dansco, and Curtain Call this year. Thankfully, all the costumes have arrived and we are set to go! I can't wait to get our backdrop from Backdrops Fantastic too!
With only 2 weeks left until our 13th recital, I still get excited about the whole experience and what this means for our dancers.  I've always positioned our studio as a non-competitive but performance focused studio.  I aim to have a great show (three recitals total, 1500 guests) for my students and their guests. It's been said many times but it's worth stating again your recital is your BEST form of advertisement.  With that in mind here's a quick check list for you:
Write a Press Release - tell them when, where and who will be performing and if any tickets are available.
Invite the media to come and take photos, give them a front row seat. (local paper etc.)
Post pre- and post- show news on your website and social media sites. 
Create a hashtag for your studio #BrodheadDance and tell your students and parents what Hashtag (#) to use - that way when they tweet and post they begin to create a set of posts with the same searchable Hashtag ie.  #BrodheadDance
Get a twitter account for your studio! The kids are all on it so use it!   Might want to get Instagram too while you are at it! 
And last but not least please INTRODUCE yourself and your staff - I attended a friends recital last week and the owner never told us her name... I guess I was supposed to figure it out by the name of the studio on the program but really?  Let's just remember the basics - Hello my name is (Insert your name here) I'm the owner and director of the (insert studio name here). I'd like to welcome you to our annual recital and be the first to thank you for being here today to support our dancers.  .... simple and basic. Just don't forget it okay?
Break a Leg everyone!  Remember, you make a difference everyday because you are a dance teacher.  Be Proud!
Ms. D

Friday, May 10, 2013

In the face of tragety it's time to dance

Starting with the tragedy in the Newtown, Conn. shootings where so many young lives were lost-- to the Boston Marathon where young children lost life and limb... I've found myself in a very sad and angry state.
Why?  It's such a simple question, but such a complicated answer.

I've been dancing since I was 3. I'm now 43 and I'm still dancing as a dance teacher/studio owner.  What breaks my heart is hearing stories from Newtown where a dance school lost students, not because of some dance school drama or a bad teacher. Because they were killed! Pre-ballet students gone from the class. I wonder just how they are dealing with that loss at their annual recital?  Sadly I lost one of my dancers a week after our recital a few years ago - she had a brain aneurysm. Our little Bella - a cute yellow cuddly duck was gone. I was so happy we helped her have a happy dance-filled life, however short lived it was. She loved to dance.

A dance teacher lost her limb in Boston. And who knows what type of costume factories there may be in Bangladesh where tragedy has struck yet again. Our dance lives are embedded in the daily lives we live, but do we really stop and think about what it all means to us?

My mother who died when I was 22 was not a book worm by any means, she was too busy to stop and read a book. But in cleaning up her things I found a book that sits on my book shelf today its written by Shirley MaClaine and titled "Dance While You Can."

Still in all these years since she passed, I have not taken the time to read this book. I paged through it and even store a few keepsakes in it's pages... but now I think I need to take the time to read it. (Just as soon as my dance recital is over next weekend).Maybe she was trying to tell me something.

A time to dance.  For so many that time has ended, and yet for me it's a time to reflect on just how lucky I am that I can dance.  That we all can dance - even with a prosthetic leg - I'm hopeful Adrianne the dance teacher maimed in the Boston Marathon will succeed in her quest to be on Dancing with the Stars as a competitor. I donated to her relief fund to help keep her motivated, to let her know our young dancers were watching her and praying for her.

Everyone says we should count our blessings... and I do.  I just wish those who have passed could do the same.  It's your time to dance!  It's our time to dance!  Let's go and do it for those who can not.

Break - a - Leg at your annual recitals everyone.  

Dancingly Yours,


Thursday, February 14, 2013

I Love to Dance! Happy Valentine's Day

I've talked about this many times before. The importance of positive talk.  In our studio we end every class by saying "I'm Smart. I'm Strong and I Love to Dance". Not just on Valentine's day but EVERY day for the past 12 years at dance class our students have shouted, danced and sang this statement. (some classes get pretty creative). When I originally started this I did it to provide young people a chance to learn positive self talk and how important that can be in everyday life.  Back then I thought I might change out our "slogan" every few years for another... but I never could develop one that was as short and effective as I'm Smart. I'm Strong and I Love to Dance.  If you want to read more about this technique visit www.instructdance.com to read a story published in Dance Studio Life.

I encourage you to give your dancers a gift each class with a statement such as this or one you create yourself. Please feel free to use mine...it's my gift to you this Valentine's Day.

Dancingly Yours,

Monday, October 29, 2012

Costume time and I'm not talking about Halloween

It's Halloween week and Hurricane Sandy is making sure the east coast will never forget this scary holiday!  Since I'm sitting here in Wisconsin, I'm enjoying some calm weather and took an opportunity today to visit with Curtain Call costumes whose reps were in Madison, Wis. for a costume showcase.  How nice it was to see the entire collection and get to touch and feel it.   I didn't get to any UDMA shows this fall, so this was my first "hands on" costume event for the year.  

Definitely demonstrates again how different costumes in real life and catalog photos can be.  It's important to try to get to see these costumes (from any manufacturer) in person as there were several costumes in the catalog that I would have breezed right on past - the photos simply did not do it justice.   Always read the descriptions!   They had some new multi-facetted sequins that were cool too. 

I'd have to say their new "confetti" sequins are a hit - I'm going to make something work out with my music selections just so I can pick one of those costumes!  In general all the costumes were  well-made and very stylish, as I have come to expect from long term suppliers like Curtain Call. 

Their timing was great because my first set of books is going out to one of my teachers tonight - we have 6 teachers so we need to rotate books and get these costumes picked out before Dec. 1st.  I usually pick only 3-4 suppliers and try to get as many costumes selected from those books as possible.  Why?  First for the discounts and second for my sanity... too many costume suppliers and I start to pull my hair out in the Spring.  

Costumes are so important to the overall tone and polish of your recitals.  And as I've said over and over again, your recital is your single most important marketing technique. If you can't pull of a great show you will not win the competitive battle for children's time.  Recitals must make memories and amazing costumes are one of the elements to acheive it.

I always make a big deal about the "unveiling" of the costume selections in January, the kids just wait and wait for their class to be revealed.  Upon arrival,  for my pre-ballet, first time students, I always tell them how important taking care of their very special costume is: "Take extra good care of it, let Mom hang it in her closet until picture day and recital day ... then AFTER the recital you can wear this costume as much as you want - you can even wear it to the grocery store!" -- and they all laugh, but they get the point.

Later, I get a huge smile when I see one of my dancers in the grocery store the week after the recital. "You know (insert name...she never forgets," says the Mom with a shrug.  Then I smile and say, "well at least you are getting your money's worth!" 

The Finale' - a costume collection at it's best.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Clogging TV shows show love of dance vs. fear of losing

I had a brief moment to watch a new reality TV show called Down South Dance it featured two rival dance companies Sole Impulse Dance and SouthernDanceAcademy.

First the dancer's are great and they have all had excellent training, so my kudos go out to their teacher's Chip Harrison and Sarah Darby and to the students who have obviously worked very hard on their Clogging skills.   But here is my observation... aside from the Dance Mom's wanna-be this show did unveil difference at least in my eyes to why some groups win at competitions and some don't.

At the end of this show it was revealed that Chip's dancers at Southern Dance were beaten by Darby's Synergy Dancers by something like one tenth of a point.   Chips reaction was that Darby should be scared.  They'll get'em next time...he said it came down to Showmanship.   I agree in part.

I would argue that it came down to passion. Chip's girls are scared to disappoint.  They fear Chip and fear their own parents reactions - knowing they have a lot on the line.  Ms. Darby's girls are much more relaxed, enjoying the heart of competition and loving what they do.  You can see it in their faces in the movements they do together as a team.  Yes, a judge might call it showmanship.  I call it lack of fear.

Chip tries to get girls to leave one school to come to the other. I didn't know that he was a lawyer until I read up on him afterwards...now he and his actions makes a little more sense to me.

So, Chip Harrison, if your reading this - try sharing the love of dance, the love of the pounding of feet, the love of the rhythm.  It wouldn't kill you to give the kids some kudos, love and praise either. They obviously RESPECT you, but they don't LOVE you...they fear you and don't want to disappoint. You have a beautiful gift of talent that you've cultivated, now take them to the finish with pride not fear. 

And if you think those other girls are going to jump ship from Ms Darby well.... if they did they'd be a bit crazy since she is home to the winningest record.  And her kids can smile for real not fake.  I did think your distraction strategy was interesting, twisted but interesting.-- hope those Mom's and girls don't fall for it.

You should check out the show SouthernDance...it was good.  Maybe it will make it as a series after all.  If nothing else Clogging will get some new found respect up here in the North vs.only in the southern states. Break-a- Leg ya'll.

Dancingly Yours,
Ms. DeAnne


Friday, October 5, 2012

5 magic erasers later

Had our first big night in our new studio on Monday...our new studios are beautiful, kids love it, the dancing was great and then...the night was over.  And what did I see?   Fingerprints, handprints, footprints on the freshly painted walls!   Uggg!   Last time I checked I didn't teach kids to dance on the walls, so why are there so many foot marks on the walls? 

Well, nothing a little (or a lot) of Mr. Clean Magic Erasers couldn't tackle - 5 to be exact and they even worked great on the scuff marks on the floors.   Walla!  My new studio was back.

It did make me question my choice of Vanilla Milkshake for my wall color...might have to re-think that choice later.  But for now, the cleaning is proving to be a great workout too.  Cleaning the studio is one of the many behind the scene activities many dance teachers don't talk about, but it's so important. (I've chosen to barter for cleaning services with a parent who runs a pro cleaning business.)
Here's a photo of one of our new studios.  I'm waiting until our first full week of classes are done to post more photos on my studio website and facebook pages to everyone can be suprised at our new look.  One thing I have not added yet are my Releve' dance posters - I wanted to make sure I knew how the room worked before I put the posters up which means that will be my quick weekend project. I'll post those later.

Have a great weekend everyone! I'm going out to buy more Magic Erasers...
Dancingly Yours,

Monday, September 10, 2012

My own space - making the big move

I know many dance teachers go through this same process, so I thought I'd share mine with you.   The first of August, just 5 weeks ago, my landlord decided to move to a different smaller space.  So, I had to move too.  Over the past 11 years, I've built a nice dance business in a small community in Wisconsin.
Over those same 11 years, I've rented studio space from a local fitness center, so while we had some dedicated area of the building the space was never really "ours."   But the price was right, the space was nice and it worked...that is until Aug. 1.

Within the past fuve weeks, I've rennovated the basement of an old church built in 1856 to be our new home.  It's been a ton of work and a huge learning opportunity for not only me but for my family who is helping.  My husband for years has been telling me to get my own space, but for some reason I was afraid of upsetting the status quo of what was working for me.  I should have listened to him sooner.

Now, I can't believe I waited so long.  We haven't had our first class yet, or our open house, and we aren't even done with the finishing touches yet-- but it's almost there...my dream come true.  My own dance school. I often just stand in the middle of the one of the studios and stare at it. One time I even shouted "5,6,7,8" just to see if it sounded right.   Silly I know, but my mind races with images of kids dancing, me teaching and the awesome creative process that comes when I dance and teach dance.  People often say dance becomes part of your soul and I truely believe that.  I am at my best when I'm in my "dance element". 

Here's what I've learned so far:

Find people who know what they are doing and pay them to do it.
Be nice to your husband because he can do a lot of stuff and save you a lot of money. (Thanks Honey!)
Be prepared for a daily trip to the home center for supplies.
Don't pay up front for anything until you know it is done right..
Be prepared for the worst - yes, we had this...beautiful vinyl flooring installed friday...dehumidifier hose dropped and leaked water under it for 24 hrs...not a beautiful sight the next day. 
Everything can be fixed with enough effort (and money).  So don't cry.
Just because its your vision and looks completely obvious to you doesn't mean others can see it.
Everything costs more than you planned.  Just don't look at the credit card balance for a while.
Dance suppliers often cost more money than other solutions, so you need to do your homework.
Some dance suppliers are worth the extra money cause they know what they are doing.
Dance parents can be amazing supporters and volunteers, but you need to ask for help.
Doing Fall registration and remodeling at the same time is not a great idea - avoid if at all possible.
Keep your website and Facebook pages updated so your customers know what's happening.

I'll have photos of our rennovation soon to post.  I can't wait to hang my Releve' dance posters in my new space and finish the look of the space.  I didn't realize just how important the posters would be in my new space, but I really need the "pop" they'll provide.

Looking forward to a fun fall in our new location.  I think this old church is enjoying a little new life being brought back into it.  It's fun to rennovate a space and make it part of the creative process I enjoy so much.

Dancingly Yours,

Releve' Dance Poster sample

Releve' Dance Poster sample
sample of poster