• Back to School: Last Minute Secrets for Attracting New Students

    backtoschoolBy: Julia Hilliard, Relationship Manager

    As a dance studio owner, it can feel like the summer months take center stage one day and chassé into the wings the next. This happens, in part, because summer is a very hectic time of year—between wrapping up recital season, coordinating summer classes and trying to rest and rejuvenate, time can slip away!

    But do not fear; there is still time to prepare your studio for a successful fall registration.  As parents start to select extracurricular activities for their children, use the last few weeks of summer to successfully market your studio’s unique brand to your community. Here are a few ways to do so:

    Nurture Existing Relationships

    Happy parents and dancers are your greatest advocates, so it’s important that they remain loyal and happy. To ensure their satisfaction, ask for their feedback. While you will likely receive some feedback throughout the course of the year, by distributing a formal survey, you can solicit specific feedback and show parents and students that you value their input. To maximize feedback, consider offering a participation incentive. For example, when a parent fills out a survey, enter their student into a drawing to win a back-to-school prize package.

    Additionally, make it as easy as possible for students to return to the studio for another exciting season. You could do this by offering early registration incentives or special class promotions.

    Boost Social Media Efforts

    If you’ve dabbled in marketing, you’re aware of the power of social media. Showcasing your studio’s personality and culture via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other channels is an effective way to reach both dancers and their parents.

    However, collecting enough content to maintain numerous social channels can be time consuming and impractical for your busy schedule. To help divvy up social media responsibilities, consider selecting a handful of your loyal, senior students to act as studio reps. You can organize your rep program in a number of ways. For example, you may ask that each rep be responsible for submitting five photos a month for your studio’s channels. You could also encourage your reps to positively promote the studio on their personal channels. Just be sure to have a conversation ahead of time about what kind of content may be deemed inappropriate.

    For additional content, don’t forget to share your studio’s news! Did you just make a big impact in your community through a volunteer effort? Did your students just win big at a local competition? Whatever the story may be, make sure you’re sharing it with your social media community.

    Emphasize Curriculum

    Help parents understand why they should choose your studio over others in the area by emphasizing your curriculum in marketing efforts. For example, if your studio really prides itself on classes for preschoolers, make sure parents know that. Alternatively, if your studio is a better fit for serious ballet students, make sure that is clear, as well. This will help ensure that you are the right fit for a particular student and vice versa.

    If you are finding that your curriculum is not attracting as many students as you had hoped, consider adding unique classes to your fall lineup like “acroyoga” or “rhythm tap.” Additionally, to help show parents and dancers that you’re tuned into the last dance trends, don’t be afraid to talk about conventions or trainings you attended over the summer to stay fresh and current.

    Any tips are tricks for recruiting new students at the end of the summer? We want to hear them! Comment below.

  • Curtain Call 2017 Collection: Inspiring Dreams

    FB-Timeline--CC-2017-Now-Available

    Dear Valued Customer,

    For 47 years, our customers have supported our efforts to grow and make a difference in the dance costume market. I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to provide the leadership and serve you, our customers, since the very beginning. It has been, and continues to be, an exciting and rewarding ride to evolve and advance our business alongside yours.

    Last year, we worked hard to inspire your creativity as choreographers and studio owners. This year, we are attempting to help make your creative visions reality by offering even more magical styling. So, thanks to your input, we are proud to present to you our 2017 collection: “Inspiring Dreams.”

    As Walt Disney once said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” We know both you and your dancers have big dreams, and with a variety of designs that can complement any choreography and all dancers, those dreams can come to fruition. Whether you’re aspiring to choreograph a great performance, nurture the next prima ballerina or discover a hip-hop superstar, we want you to focus on achieving those dreams. Meanwhile, we’ll we take care of the rest.

    To do this, we promise to continue the same best-in-market customer service that you’ve counted on in the past. We will ship on time, provide budget-friendly options while consistently delivering the highest quality products in the industry. We understand every season comes with new challenges and obstacles, but our goal is to ease your path to the finish line. We want to help fuel your imagination while adding no additional stress, so you can instead focus your energy on creating and enjoying magical moments on the way to achieving your dreams.

    In short, we believe in your aspirations, and we’re thankful, proud and honored to be your partner on this journey towards bringing your dreams to life.

    Our very best wishes for a fabulous year,

    Tighe King, CEO, Perform Group and the Curtain Call team

    Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

  • Business Checklist for Dance Studio Owners - Q3

    In the heat of the summer, your days may be longer but your "to do" list certainly isn't any shorter! Our team put together a third-quarter to-do list that will help you prepare for next season. Take a look!

    Q3--Business-Tips-Checklist-web

     

    Download the PDF: Business Checklist for Dance Studio Owners - Q3

  • The Relationship Managers Tell All: Favorite Choreography

    RM-Fave-Choreography-CollageLive and taped performances alike have a way of touching us as people and artists. Whether it’s the breathtaking passion of the dancers, the catchy beat of the music or the flawless costumes, these well-choreographed routines are unforgettable to us and often serve as inspiration. Some of our Relationship Managers took on the challenge of identifying their most favorite pieces of choreography. Did anyone name your favorite, or can you think of one that should’ve made the list? Let us know in the comments!

    Christine RMChristine Luca – Relationship Manager for New England

    My favorite famous piece of choreography is Danny Kaye and Vera Ellen performing “The best things happen when you're dancing” from White Christmas. Always puts a smile on my face!

     

     

    Ashley Sales ManagerAshley Zimmerman – National Dance Sales Manager

    My favorite is George Balanchine’s Stars and Stripes, which has been brought to life by numerous companies, including the New York City Ballet and the Washington Ballet.

     

     

    Amelia RMAmelia Smith-Fazio – Relationship Manager for Georgia and Florida

    There are too many to choose from! For ballet, Rudolph Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn in the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet is a well-choreographed classic, but I also love the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre’s Sinner Man.

     

     

    Liz RMElizabeth Barton - Relationship Manager for Greater Philadelphia, New Jersey, Delaware and the Eastern Shore

    As an audience member of Brittany Spears’s Dream Within a Dream Tour, I couldn’t believe how awesome her dancers were. The tour was directed and choreographed by Wade Robson and Brook Lipton was one of her back up dancers at the time.

     

     

    Stacey RM Stacey Raab - Relationship Manager for Pennsylvania & Maryland

    My ballet go-tos have to be Act 3 Kitri Variation from Don Quixote and Little Swan from Swan Lake choreography by Nureyev; but I do love Martha Graham Company’s Errand into the Maze in the modern choreography realm.

  • Dancing Across Generations

    Old-School-TVSome things never go out of style: table manners, denim, birthday parties, little black dresses…..and dance! You may have noticed that recently, television and movie producers have been uniting generations by remaking classic, popular dance movies. Today’s top stars have joined these casts and crews, making these revivals relevant and exciting to younger audiences, while still giving more mature viewers a healthy dose of nostalgia. Summer provides some extra downtime to revisit these dance-centric films that have withstood the test of time:

    • Grease is the word: In January, FOX coordinated “Grease: LIVE”, a live television broadcast of the classic movie-musical that featured stars including Julianne Hough, Vanessa Hudgens and Mario Lopez. The 1978 American musical romantic comedy film was reimagined, but the style stayed largely the same. The bright red lipstick and black leather outfits wow-ed audiences of all ages and the letterman jackets stayed exactly as we remembered them. If you weren’t able to catch the live broadcast, check it out on Netflix!
    • No one puts baby in the corner: ABC is working on a three-hour musical version of the 1987 hit “Dirty Dancing,” the much-loved story of how good girl Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman falls for – and learns some serious dance moves from! --Johnny Castle, the dance instructor at her family’s Catskills summer resort. The host station of “Dancing with the Stars” will recreate the movie’s iconic dance lift that made everyone trust their dance partner. The cast includes Debra Messing, Nicole Scherzinger and Abigail Breslin.
    • Whatever you feel, just dance it: Lifetime is creating a sequel to the beloved 2000s classic “Center Stage.” This time around, the American Ballet Academy is tasked with incorporating more contemporary styles into its ballet repertoire, and Peter Gallagher will return as the stern director everyone loves to hate. The sequel will include “Dance Moms” alum Chloe Lukasiak, who stars as a young ballerina vying for a spot in the company. These cast choices will make new and old viewers excited to watch just how modern the classic art of ballet can get.
    • Kick off your Sunday shoes: Catch “Footloose,” the 1984 American musical drama turned 2011 contemporary movie, proving any generation can appreciate a good rebel. Julianne Hough and Kenny Wormald take on this small town with a big city attitude.

    With your downtime this summer, consider reconnecting with old and new timeless favorites that remind us dance is a universal language that stretches across generations. Who knows, you just might get inspired to whip out some classic dance moves or choreograph to a retro song!

  • Summer Blues? Put on Your Dancing Shoes!

    By: Stacey Raab, Relationship Manager

    Summer-SunFrom our team at Curtain Call to you: Congratulations on wrapping up what we hope was a successful and fulfilling recital season! You have certainly earned some time to relax, rejuvenate and reflect on your achievements—both big and small—from the past year.

    While the summer months provide an important opportunity to unwind and refocus, they also provide numerous excuses for your students to step away from dance for a few weeks. After competition and recital seasons, many dancers are in their best shape. Stopping cold turkey over the summer may cause them to lose the technique and physicality they worked so hard to achieve during the school year. Occasionally students will take the summer off from dancing then return in the fall to find that they’ve fallen behind compared to their peers who continued their practice year-round. This can lead to hurt feelings or unhappy dancers and parents.

    So while it’s easy to let the summer heat lure your students into a swimming pool or onto a couch in an air conditioned room, be sure to think about keeping them engaged over the summer to set them up for success come fall:

    Tips for Studio Owners

    Consider Adding New Classes. Summer is a great time to test drive classes and assess how popular they may be in the fall. Offering trendy classes like pop ballet, jazz-funk or improvisation may encourage existing students to consider classes outside of their comfort zones and even attract new students who are intrigued by your studio’s unique offerings. Also, organizing classes in disciplines like yoga, aerial yoga, gymnastics and Pilates give your more serious dancers an opportunity to cross-train and maintain the flexibility and strength that they built over the last season.

    Welcome Guest Teachers. To keep engagement and excitement levels high during the slower summer months, welcome guest teachers into your studio to teach a class or a series of classes. Guests can be anyone from studio alumni who are home for the summer to master dancers from out of town. You can even offer workshops to give some of your advanced dancers a chance to try their hand setting choreography on their peers.

    Offer Specialized Camps or Private Lessons. More often than not, parents—especially working parents—are looking for interesting ways to keep their children occupied during the week. To accommodate this desire, consider offering specialized camps that allow students to develop their technique across dance genres while spending time with their friends.

    Additionally, offering private lessons (or offering them at a discounted rate during the summer) is a great way to provide students with one-on-one instruction that they may not be getting during the school year. This personalized attention may help students feel more engaged with their practice and get them excited to excel in their regular classes come fall.

    Participate in Community Events. If your community celebrates summer with activities like festivals, parades and charity drives, get your students involved. Work with the event coordinators to secure a spot for your dancers to perform one of their recital pieces for attendees. Participation in these events gives your students an excuse to stay in shape and also doubles as a great marketing tactic to attract new dancers to your studio.

    Engage Students via Social Media. Consider incentivizing a social media contest that encourages your students to share dancing photos during their summer breaks. You may be surprised by the submissions you receive: arabesques on the beach during a family vacation or even lunch break pirouettes during a student’s first summer job!

    Summer days don’t have to be lazy! With the right combination of summer offerings, your students can stay engaged, flexible and active during their summer breaks, and you can ensure that your studio is set up for a successful season.

    What are your tricks for keeping students engaged during the summer? We want to know! Share in the comments below.

  • How Ballet Got Me to The Olympics

    BalletPic Shannon Miller is a 7 time Olympic Medalist and remains The Most Decorated Gymnast in the United States.

    Like many other children, I began gymnastics at the age of five after my parents became terrified that I’d injure myself flipping off the couch or attempting somersaults on the backyard trampoline (there were no nets and pads back then). I fell in love with the sport from the beginning. I was able to flip and turn to my heart’s content. I was learning new skills and eventually stringing them together to create full routines.

    Those that have watched me grow up in the sport know that ballet was a huge part of my career as a gymnast. Even before I started gymnastics, I was taking ballet. In fact, I wanted so badly to go with my older sister to ballet that I called my grandmother and begged her to talk my mother into allowing me to go. She did just that and even paid for my first lessons!

    As a shy child, ballet class was my first opportunity to begin to understand how I could tell a story through movement. Even at a young age, I loved the practice and precision of each move. Those basic classes helped me with body awareness, flexibility, and timing. Of course, I loved the slippers and tights and really loved recitals. For a shy child, I had no problem showing off to a room full of people….as long as I didn’t have to speak to anyone.

    Making the transition to gymnastics did not mean leaving ballet behind. In fact, it was my dance background that helped me understand who I was as a gymnast. During that time, the primary gymnast body type was more of a powerhouse like Mary Lou Retton and then Kim Zmeskal, and the floor routine was energetic, even cutesy.

    I can recall one choreographer trying to get me to shake my hips and my shoulders and “be cute.” Instead I just broke down in tears. I knew it wasn’t me. I knew that if I didn’t love it and didn’t feel comfortable, then the routine would fall flat with both the audience and judges. Ballet was my comfort zone. I wanted violins and dramatic movements.

    I wasn’t particularly powerful. I had these skinny legs and knobby knees. I wasn’t the most flexible or the most naturally talented. However, I loved gymnastics and soon found that I could combine those skills learned through ballet with my gym training to create something incredible.

    Ballet had given me a basic understanding of posture and how important it is to have a solid foundation for larger skills. Ballet helped me understand “grace” in a way that I may not have understood through gymnastics alone. As I grew in the sport, I continued with ballet at least once a week. I found that incorporating what I learned through ballet allowed me to excel on balance beam and floor exercise. I was able to differentiate myself through my dance and attention to detail.

    When someone asks me about my favorite moments, it’s difficult not to think of my floor exercise routines. One of my favorite quotes from a commentator was, “Shannon just pulls in every note”. My goal with the choreography was to stay true to myself. I may not have had the most or even best training, but that foundation through ballet allowed me to connect my movements to the audience, to truly tell a story.

    While I became known for the artistic portion of my gymnastics as much as for my difficulty in skills, I don’t consider myself a great dancer, but rather, a lover of dance. I will always be grateful for my grandmother who gave me my start, for my parents who helped me follow my dreams, and for my coaches who understood the importance of ballet to my overall training and success.

    SM-blog

  • Beyond the Dollar Sign: The Benefits of Classwear Partnerships

    By: Amelia Smith-Fazio, Relationship Manager

    Benefits of Classwear-CC4C--Dancers-in-BlackAs a studio owner, you have a decision to make: to offer classwear in-studio or not to offer classwear in-studio. Providing classwear is one way that you can ease parents’ entry into the dance world, giving them easy access to the trendiest apparel while also offering top-notch costumer service and robust class offerings. Some studio owners offer classwear to create an additional revenue stream, but there are other benefits that you may not have considered. Classwear programs provide convenience for parents, keep your studio organized and encourage studio pride.

    1. Provide Convenience for Your Customers: Parents see you as a trusted resource, so they can breathe easy knowing apparel you select will be the highest quality and will allow their dance student to practice at their very best. This means that parents won’t have to take the time out of their hectic schedules to visit several stores or peruse multiple websites looking for the correct, best or most durable outfits for their dancers. They can bring their money to a familiar place, instead of traveling to a store or navigating a website that does not offer the customer service and attention that you provide. In short, providing classwear puts a parent’s mind at ease. Additionally, for recital and competition seasons, partnering with a classwear vendor ensures that everyone has the appropriate tights, shoes and accessories to make the dancers look uniform on stage.
    1. Keep Your Studio Organized: Many studio owners coordinate their students in colored leotards by age or level to distinguish classes easily with one glance. For example, some have very young students in lighter colors and older students in flattering darker colors. Advancing through the colored leotard tiers help students build confidence as they progress to each new level and establishes a sense of pride that radiates through each class. Designated classwear can keep students more focused during their class, establish a sense of discipline and level the playing field amongst students.This color coordination can also be helpful to studio owner operations. During busy class schedules, coordinated classwear helps you identify levels or ages quickly so you can direct them to the right studio or warm up location.
    1. Encourage Student Pride: Customized gear helps students demonstrate studio pride. It also drives brand awareness while at events, unifying the whole studio across ages and technique levels. Customized studio gear is perfect for all--from excited little ones participating in their first classes to older dancers who have grown to love their studio to supportive parents. Consider stocking your studio store for a special milestone, such as a studio anniversary or a great competition season. With many apparel and accessory designs, you can choose items that reflect your studio’s unique personality.

    If you’re interested in learning more about Curtain Call for Class, check us out here or contact your Relationship Manager

  • Consider Finding a Mentor

    By: Misty Lown, More Than Just Great Dancing

    mistylown2 Misty Lown, More Than Just Great Dancing®

    As a dance student, I had no question about the value of having a mentor. I didn’t call these influencers in my life mentors, I called them teachers, but they were mentors in the truest sense of the word. They shared their experiences and wisdom with me, and challenged me to grow in my art. They held my feet to fire when I wanted to give up, encouraged me to define my goals and helped me create strategies to reach them.

    And, then a funny thing happened. I graduated.

    I can’t say that it’s anybody’s fault, but somewhere in the space between college and career, I found myself on my own, lacking the support system I had grown to rely upon. My teachers moved on to new students and I moved into what I thought being a responsible adult meant. And, to me that meant that I should be able to handle things on my own.

    And, a not-so-funny thing started to happen. I started to get burned out.

    Starting my dance studio at age 21 was exciting, but the weight of the responsibility added up quickly. Add a marriage and young family and my studio started to look like a burden instead of a blessing. And that’s when it dawned on me: I wasn’t made to carry this all on my own. I didn’t want to be a “solopreneur”, I wanted to be an entrepreneur, so I started actively seeking mentors again. Studio life has never been the same.

    Have you been there? Are you there now?

    I have been there and I want you to know that you are not alone. Not only that, you are not designed to do this alone. Just like you needed a mentor as a dance student, you need a mentor as a business owner.

    If you are ready to break the isolation of business ownership, check out these ideas for finding and learning from a mentor.

    1. Identify the wisdom, encouragement or tools that you are most in need of right now. If you are having a hard time with studio-specific challenges, reach out to another respected owner in your region for advice. If you are struggling with home/work balance, reach out to someone who has an admirable balance of both. Perhaps growing your business is your biggest struggle. If so, then grabbing lunch with seasoned business owner of any larger business may help you.

    2. Don’t be afraid to initiate contact. This is where a lot of studio owners lose courage because they just don’t know what to say or they fear being turned down. If this is you, take the pressure off of yourself. You’re not making a marriage proposal—you are just looking to start a conversation with someone who is a little further down the business path than you are right now. My suggestion is to reach out by email to the person you are interested in learning from and ask them if they would be willing to join you for a 55 minute Learning Lunch (55 minutes is efficient and intriguing!).

    3. Come with your questions. Before you ask questions that are specific to your situation, get to know the person. They will likely answer many of your questions just by sharing their journey as a business leader. Once you’ve established a rapport, ask for insights on your specific situation.

    4. Open the door for more. If anticipate thinking of additional questions to ask after your Learning Lunch, ask your guest if they would be open to an email follow up. Again, you are not asking for a permanent mentoring relationship. You are just keeping the door open for another conversation.

    5. Follow Up. Did you learn something? Did it cause you to make changes? Let that person know. Gratitude is the fuel of relationships.

    Finding a mentor is a little like dating. You wouldn’t take every person on a second date, but you can learn something from every person. But, when you do find that person you just click with, your life will certainly be enriched by the relationship.

    You have nothing to lose, so make a list of five people you’d like to learn from today! And, in case I’m on that list, here is my email: [email protected] :)

  • Four Ways to Shine During Your Summer Intensive

    By: Amelia Smith-Fazio, Relationship Manager

    Participating Summer-Intensive-Tips-Iconin a summer ballet intensive is exciting and fun, but can also be intimidating and overwhelming, especially for first-timers. Thriving in a new environment with unfamiliar teachers and students is understandably a challenge for some dancers. However, with the right preparation and mindset, you can leave your intensive feeling confident that you have grown as a dancer, made meaningful connections with instructors from around the world and cultivated lasting friendships with people who share your passion for dance.

    To help you shine during your summer intensive, here are a few tips I picked up while studying at several pre-professional schools including the Sarasota Ballet School and the Virginia School of the Arts:

    Choose your program thoughtfully. Not all summer intensive programs are created equal. There are numerous factors to consider before deciding on the program that is right for you. Many intensives are connected to professional companies, but not all of them. If your ultimate goal is to join a company, participating in a summer program that funnels into a particular company is a great way to potentially get noticed and to get your foot in the door.

    Additionally, you may want to consider the technique and style that each intensive teaches. Some schools, for example, follow the Vaganova method, while others teach Balanchine technique. Consider the style you study at your home studio (if you don’t know, it’s okay to ask!), and determine whether or not you’d like to further your study of that technique or diversify your personal ballet repertoire. Similarly, if your home studio trains in one style, but the company you’d ultimately like to audition for follows another, participating in a summer program offering that training can help build your foundation.

    For some, a program’s distance from home may play a factor. If you’ve never spent significant time away from home before, you might want to select a program within driving distance, so that your family can easily visit and attend your end-of-summer showcase.

    Take care of yourself. Between classes and social events, summer intensive students have very busy schedules. However, regardless of how busy you may be, it’s important that your personal health and well-being come first. Be sure you are getting a full seven-eight hours of sleep every night—trust me, you’ll need that rest to perform your best in class! Additionally, hydration is key. Remember, it will likely be hot outside and in the studio, so make sure to keep a water bottle on you at all times and aim to drink at least the recommended eight glasses of water a day.

    Eating a well-balanced diet will also be critical to your success at a summer intensive. If it’s your first time eating in a college dining hall, try not to be lured by the impressive variety of yummy—but unhealthy—options, like sugary cereals. Instead, eat meals that are full of lean protein and complex carbs. For example, a healthy breakfast might include eggs, fruit, and whole grain toast with peanut butter.

    Put your best foot forward. While you might be able to get away with being a few minutes late to class at your home studio, don’t expect that to be the case at your summer intensive. Plan to arrive at each class several minutes before it starts to stretch, secure your place at the barre and mentally prepare. Once you enter the classroom, keep conversation to necessary interactions only, and stay focused throughout the duration of the class.

    Also, don’t forget to look the part. Your attire should follow the school’s dress code, which is likely a solid color leotard and pink tights (without holes and runs!), and your hair should be pulled back into a neat, secure bun.

    Keep an open mind. Summer intensives are designed to take you out of your comfort zone and push you to quickly grow as a dancer and performer, so keep an open mind. Be open to feedback from your teachers, trying new movements, performing to unfamiliar music and making friends with people from different parts of the world. Also, be kind to yourself. You might not perfect every move immediately, and you might not always feel like the most technically advanced dancer in the room. Be okay with imperfection, understanding that everyone around you is going through their own individual learning processes.

    I recommend that every student serious about their ballet study consider attending a summer intensive at least once. It’s a challenging, but very rewarding, experience that will add tremendous value to your training.

    Have you attended a summer intensive before? If so, we want to hear your tips for success! Share them in the comments below.

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