Dance Studio Owners: Are you making this mistake?

The BIGGEST mistake Dance Studios are making in their marketing right now…

Here’s a BIG question for you this week, lovely Dance Informa readers!

When it comes to your studio, are you marketing what you DO or are you marketing what you GIVE? You see, one of the biggest challenges is how to promote your studio in a highly saturated, competitive market when EVERYONE is trying to promote the same thing!

Every studio offers ballet, jazz, tap, hip hop etc. We need to discover your unique positioning and differentiation in the market.

The wonderful thing is that every studio is different. Some studios are more technique focused. Others give amazing performance opportunities. Whilst some studios pride themselves on individual nurturing and personalized attention.

Really step into the hearts and mind of that parent who is choosing a studio for their child. What are they looking for? What is important to them? How do they want their child to feel? What would turn them off choosing your studio? The more we can understand what your dream student is seeking in a studio, the more we can tailor your marketing message to speak directly to their hearts.

In a nutshell, shifting your marketing message to share what the students will EXPERIENCE at your studio as opposed to what you do in your studio is a wonderful way to connect more with your marketing and start attracting more students.

It’s not about the class itself, it’s about painting a beautifully vibrant picture of how they’re going to feel when they’re in the class.

The studio with the most connection in their marketing will win – and the best thing is that all it takes is a few little tweaks.

In the comments below, share how you describe the experience at your studio…

And, if you’re looking for more guidance on how to craft your studio’s marketing message, the best place to start is in the Free30 Enrollments in 30 Days” mini course. This course has been designed for studio owners and will walk you through how to rapidly ramp up your registrations. Click here and watch the first video now.

Here’s to more passion, more profits and more purpose in your studio!
All my best,

By Chantelle Bruinsma Duffield of

The post Dance Studio Owners: Are you making this mistake? appeared first on Dance Informa Magazine.

A letter to my students: Create Stories that Matter

Vincas Greene was Chair of the Department of Dance at Brenau University in Gainesville, Georgia, and worked there for 21 years. Students adored him and affectionately referred to him as “Master Greene”. Upon leaving Brenau and moving to Spokane, Washington, to continue to develop his art form, Greene communicated to his students via a heartfelt letter. That letter, his “last message”, was so inspiring that we wanted to share it with our readers. Maybe you could empower your dance students with a similar message?

My dear dancers,

I would like to preface this with the note that I love you. You all know Terpsichore is a hard mistress, and we empower her to keep her eagle eyes upon us so that we may constantly be prepared as her emissaries or, as Martha Graham calls us, “Athletes of God”. To this end, I must challenge you to accept these words from a teacher/friend/elder/lover who wants each of you to be the best artist, dancer and person you can possibly achieve.

The Scottish psychologist R.D. Laing wrote, “Life is a sexually transmitted disease, and the mortality rate is 100 percent.”

This entwines with our lives as dancers so well – Dance is passed from one person to another in a centuries’ old chain we can gaze back upon seeing our ancestors as they struggled, loved and taught each other, transmitting their knowledge, discoveries and passions over the years to our most recent teachers, to each of us and then on to our students and, in my case, to my grandchildren of dance. Dance is the physical manifestation of passion, and dancers are the vessels. We become so full of passion it leaps out as dance, love and art. No wonder the world sees us as sensual because our life is communication made physical. Even as our bodies begin to slow, our minds still rage with the exuberance of youth as we picture new dances forming and how our dream-perfect bodies would experience each movement. You can see it in the eyes of our elders as they describe to us past performances and new ideas – and we can also see it as their bodies still enact, as best they can, each nuance that is being described. But we know that for each of us, eventually, the body and the mind come to perfect stillness and the end of the dance, when the performer leaves the stage.

Vincas Greene teaching Brenau University dance students. Photo courtesy of Greene

Vincas Greene teaching Brenau University dance students. Photo courtesy of Greene

The time between discovering our passion for dance and the stillness should be full of stories. A story to be spoken or danced is what we have to offer – to contribute to those with us now and those who will hear of us later. Remember, dance is the most ephemeral of the arts, so it is our stories that we leave behind when we leave the stage. I am challenging each of you to create stories that matter. Have experiences that will help you to live stories of excitement, challenge, trepidation, pain, redemption, love…stories that are powerful!

I remember talking to a highly accomplished dancer and having her explain some of her experiences with touring, choreographers and other dancers. She just considered them her own experiences. When I told her that she should tell those experiences to her students as stories, she looked at me with confusion. She didn’t consider her life as a story but just as a personal event. The idea that her life could be shared to teach, motivate, warn and even entertain came as a shock to her. Her life is truly amazing, and she has started to share it as stories for her students, and the stories will be passed on now to illustrate that dance matters. The idea that my life and your life stories are to be created has me stirred up.

This idea has me contemplating fear, regret and risk. Mark Twain said, “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

As you sit here listening to me, check in with yourself. Notice what thoughts are being stirred up. Notice what you think you ought to be doing or pursuing. Notice what you think would be best for yourself as opposed to what others think would be best for you. Notice now the thought at the edge of your mind that is terrifying. The “if only” or “what if” thought that you immediately reason away – it’s not practical, that’s not possible, everyone would think I’m crazy, my parents/friend/lover would be so mad at me, that’s only for special people – whatever your excuse to cancel that thought out. That is the thought that stories are made of! Embrace that thought, challenge yourself to that thought, wrestle with that thought (like Jacob with God for his blessing), and find your path to your story.

This will also take work and sacrifice. I am not saying drop everything and go a new way. You must discover, invent and plan your way. Being here is a wonderful way to follow this path. But while you are here and wherever you discover yourself in your story, you must embrace it fully. Don’t let yourself be set on cruise control, don’t take the easy way, don’t skip the steps that will make you learn and grow – these all lead to a boring story that you won’t even interest yourself in telling. As a dancer, this means learn your craft and craft your vessel. A flaccid leg is a smudge, not a line. It takes muscles to move your body, understanding to know what you want to achieve, desire to push yourself to excellence – dance must matter to you, matter to the very core of your soul! The first plié in class must matter to you. If it doesn’t, it is just wasted time, energy…wasted life. The dancer cares for each movement, as the poet places each word thoughtfully and carefully in the verse. Place your dancing in the middle of your love. Care for your dancing, learn your dancing, learn about your dancing, tell others the small stories you are creating about your dancing, carry your dancing with you; don’t leave it to be picked up in the corner of the studio whenever you happen to be there.

Vincas Greene with Brenau University dance students. Photo courtesy of Greene.

Vincas Greene with Brenau University dance students. Photo courtesy of Greene.

I believe dance as life is terrifying. To approach each day as the day to improve your craft, make yourself stronger, give yourself more knowledge, and challenge yourself to be greater than the day before is ultimately a scary life. There is nothing easy about choosing to dance – you must constantly defend your choice, challenge yourself physically and mentally, listen to constant critique, and believe that what you are doing matters – matters to yourself, matters to art, matters to our world.

Be courageous in your belief that your life story matters. It is truly a risk to embrace the arts as life, and choosing dance among the arts is probably the riskiest. Following a path of passionate dance is not easily understood by our society. But our society also loves the underdog who takes a risk to pursue the elusive dream. Telling that story, your story, of how you are on the path is the story that draws people in to you. They are illuminated by the fire of your passion and excited by the depth of your dedication.

The world is littered with people who didn’t risk themselves. Their stories are boring, uninspiring and predictable. I remember the absolute fear of starting my life story in dance. I remember the fear of starting new chapters in this story – when I was moving to New York and really just wanted to stay home. The transition of sitting on the jet, mortified at what I was doing, and then relaxing into the adventure when the wheels left the ground and there was no turning back. As you know, I am starting a new chapter in my life story. My stories are getting a little worn, this chapter needs to end, I am terrified of what lies before me and just want to rush back into the comfort of being your “Master Greene”, but another chapter of new stories with adventure, creation, challenges, failures and accomplishments is tantalizing…also, how can I lead if not by example? I can’t have you lose faith in me. So, my parting advice to each person here today: “Take the path that is the scariest to you. Only by risking will you overcome your fears and learn something new. Don’t regret that you didn’t take the chance. Work like it matters and don’t accept less from yourself. Make your story an exciting one.”

With love,
Master Greene

Photo (top): Vincas Greene with Brenau University dance students. Photo courtesy of Greene.

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Allegro Performing Arts Academy: Secrets to Success

Several elite protégés at PULSE dance convention, numerous awards, and a win for Best Musical Theatre number at this past August’s Industry Dance Awards (for the third year in a row). That smells like success. So how does one studio do it?

Allegro Performing Arts Academy, located in Kent, Washington, sure knows how. The Industry Dance Awards go to the best competition dance pieces from studios all over the United States, and Allegro Performing Arts Academy, a winner year after year, has been reaping in success.

Allegro Performing Arts students performing 'Can't take my eyes'. Photo courtesy of Allegro.

Allegro Performing Arts students performing ‘Can’t take my eyes’. Photo courtesy of Allegro.

Tonya Goodwillie, owner and artistic director of Allegro, notes that the studio’s accomplishments are due to “perseverance” and “versatility”. Tiffany Miles-Brooks, co-director of Allegro Precision Dance Company, along with Goodwillie, adds that it’s all about “staying updated”.

“From the beginning, it was really important to us that we train equally in all styles,” Goodwillie remarks. “And as much as people fought us on that, it’s really proven to be a great part of our dancers’ training that are doing so well now. They’re not only tapping and doing great as tap dancers but also hip hop and musical theatre. So the versatility has been a really big part of our success over the past 10 years.”

“And then also just bringing in choreographers from the industry and always staying new,” adds Miles-Brooks.

Some of Allegro’s guest choreographers have included Emmy-winning Tessandra Chavez, top performer Gina Starbuck, So You Think You Can Dance’s Abe Obayomi, commercial dancer and choreographer Seth Zibalese and more.

As leaders, Goodwillie and Miles-Brooks encourage their studio’s staff to continue to learn and attend teacher workshops, in an effort to stay on top of the industry and to impart the best knowledge to their students.

“I think, as teachers, we feel pressure because we have such great dancers, and we have such great kids who are coming up, young dancers who are coming up, too, that we want to keep doing the best for them, and continue to provide them with everything that we possibly can,” Goodwillie explains. “And dance is an art form. It is constantly changing, so we can’t be stagnant. We have to constantly thrive to be better ourselves. So whatever we can do to better ourselves as teachers is going to better our students in the long run. So, it’s really important.”

Tonya Goodwillie and Tiffany with Rita Moreno at the 2015 Industry Dance Awards. Photo courtesy of Goodwillie.

Tonya Goodwillie and Tiffany Miles-Brooks with Rita Moreno at the 2015 Industry Dance Awards. Photo courtesy of Goodwillie.

At Allegro, Goodwillie has also assigned different chairs to each of discipline’s departments. Miles-Brooks, for instance, is the chair of the Jazz Department; faculty member Sara Palmer is the chair of the Hip Hop Department. Each week, the department chairs connect, communicate about their students and brainstorm what they can work on, as a collective studio.

“I think it’s all about communication,” Miles-Brooks adds. “A lot of studios, they bring people in, they kind of do their job, and they leave. I feel like we have this system, and we’re constantly together, constantly brainstorming, constantly thinking of what we can do collaboratively.”

Allegro’s group of teachers are equally invested in their students and even offer as mentors. Perhaps it is this sense of “team” that has also trickled down to the student’s own desire to progress.

“We have a mentorship program for our kids, and so we get really in tune with what they want to do with their career, and we help them as best we can,” Miles-Brooks says. “Such as research colleges, research companies that they may try and get in to, getting in tune with what they want to do. So that really helps. A lot of them want to choreograph, so we give them opportunities to choreograph on dancers, and put on shows.”

“No one did that for me growing up,” Goodwillie adds. “I didn’t have that at all – the opportunity to explore what’s after high school. No one sat me down and talked about, ‘Well there’s this college, and you don’t have to go to college right away, there are all these other options.’ I didn’t know anything about the industry and agents. I had no idea. So it’s great for the kids to kind of get a feel of that. And then they can make a better, well-educated decision about what they want to do.”

Allegro Performing Arts Academy. Photo courtesy of Allegro. 

Allegro Performing Arts Academy. Photo courtesy of Allegro.

Allegro’s most recent big win, the award for Best Musical Theatre number at August’s Industry Dance Awards, actually came as a pleasant surprise. The studio’s number was choreographed by Eddie Strachan for the third year in a row, and still Allegro proved to be on top.

“I actually came into this going, ‘There’s no way we’re going to get it a third year in a row,’” Goodwillie comments. “There were some really great other musical theatre pieces. Three other teachers came with us, and we’ve been having a really good time, and this is just a really cool event, so we’re just like, ‘Let’s celebrate and enjoy it. And whatever happens, happens.’ If you put the numbers together of how many competition pieces were nominated – there were eight categories, six to seven in each category, and those 50 numbers were chosen from thousands of group numbers. So just to be a nominee is really cool, too.”

And there, Goodwillie possibly suggests one more secret to Allegro’s success: a good, positive attitude and respect for others in the industry. Bravo, Allegro Performing Arts Academy.

By Laura Di Orio and Deborah Searle of Dance Informa.

Photo (top): A student at Allegro Performing Arts Academy. Photo by John Roque.

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