• Dance Competitions 201: From the Mouths of Judges—Tips for a Winning Competition Routine

    Pink-Ribbon-GraphicBy: Terri Gustafson, Relationship Manager

    With competition season in full swing, talented dancers from across the country are coming together for the love of dance with the hope of walking away with a renewed sense of confidence and some hardware to show off back at the studio.

    Last week, I met with a few friends of mine who regularly serve as judges in regional and national dance competitions to get the inside scoop on how they judge competition routines. As you prep for and fine tune your dances, keep in mind the following elements that judges will surely prioritize when determining a score for your performances:

    For Choreographers

    Spacing is key. For group numbers, spacing must be top notch. Dancers should be evenly spaced and formation changes should happen seamlessly and neatly.

    During practice, keep in mind that it can be tricky for dancers to accurately assess the space between themselves and others. To help, consider giving them visual clues that reflect the spacing needs of individual pieces of choreography. For example, you might tell dancers for a specific sequence there should be a “full arm’s length” between themselves and the dancer next to them.

    Bottom line is that sloppy spacing is distracting to judges, making it more difficult to focus on dancers’ technique.

    Keep in mind your students’ capabilities and strengths. While routines that include advanced sequences may be more fun to choreograph, be sure you are thinking critically about what tricks and movements your dancers can realistically pull off during show time.

    For example, if your students are unable to regularly complete a fouette sequence without falling off center or maintaining proper technique, do not include it in your choreography. It is always better to have your dancers excel with simple choreography than struggle with advanced movements they have yet to master.

    Consider your dancers’ ages. Nothing is more off-putting to judges than young students performing very provocative choreography (or mature dancers performing a very juvenile routine). Consider your dancers’ ages and maturity levels when choreographing and selecting costumes. The judges and your dancers’ parents will thank you.

    Diversify choreography. Every choreographer has a unique style. George Balanchine, Martha Graham and Bob Fosse, for example, have particular styles that helped make them renowned choreographers.

    However, while you may have a certain style or set of go-to moves, be sure that there is diversity in choreography across routines, and especially, across genres. It shouldn’t be immediately obvious that two dances are from the same studio.

    For Dancers

    Technique. Technique. Technique! Platinum performances are won in the studio. No matter how animated you are on stage, or how in sync your team is, if the technique is not there, the dance will not stand out as one of the best. Listen to your instructors’ feedback and implement it. Stretch regularly to increase flexibility and turn out. The more you practice the right way to execute your choreography, the more naturally it will come to you on stage.

    Maintain your “performance face.” How frequently has your instructor yelled “smile!” to you during practice? I’m willing to bet more than once! Dance is a difficult art because it requires that you make some incredibly difficult and complex movements look effortless. Part of this is ensuring you don’t drop character on stage, even before a challenging move or after a mistake. Whatever emotion you are supposed to be displaying—happiness, sadness, fear—make sure you are in character from start to finish.

    Handle judges’ critique with poise. Competitions are opportunities to learn and grow as a performer and artist. As such, embrace the judges’ feedback and try not to take it personally. Their critique is meant to help you improve, not to hurt your feelings!

    Just keep dancing. Mistakes happen. Every dancer has fallen victim to blanking out on stage. When this happens, don’t panic! Remember that the judges do not know what choreography you have been practicing. In fact, I worked with a young dancer several years ago who, after completely blanking on stage, carried on with choreography that she made up on the spot. When it was time for the award ceremony, guess who was recognized for best choreography? She was! (And her choreographer let her keep the award, of course).

    As cheesy as it may sound, having fun is the most important part of the competition experience—and this goes for performers, choreographers, studio owners and parents. The opportunity to gather with hundreds of people who share a passion for dance is exciting and invigorating.

    From all of us at Curtain Call, enjoy competition season!

  • Business Checklist for Dance Studio Owners - Q2

    It's hard to believe that the first quarter of 2016 is already behind us! While you are likely busy finalizing details and preparing for your end of season performances, we tapped our team of experts and compiled a helpful list of to-dos to make sure you don't miss a beat this spring.

    Q2--Business-Tips-Checklist2 2nd Quarter Business Checklist for Dance Studio Owners
  • Let’s Get Down to (the Dance) Business!

    It’s hard to believe it, but the first quarter of 2016 is almost behind us! During this exciting time of year, as a studio owner you are likely busy finalizing details for recital season to ensure your students feel and perform their very best.

    However, even as we spring forward, it’s also important to look ahead to the summer months, which provide numerous opportunities to boost enrollment and determine business objectives.

    Here are a few second quarter to-dos that will help set your studio up for success beyond recital season:

    Brainstorm Ways to Keep Students Engaged Over the Summer

    During the lazy summer months, it’s easy for students to neglect their training thereby losing some flexibility and technique. Encourage students to stay in shape by offering summer camps, fitness classes (Zumba, Barre, Pilates) or workshops with special guest instructors.

    To keep more experienced students involved, give them an opportunity to teach or student-teach a class. This will not only keep them in shape, but also assist in developing leadership qualities that can help them excel both inside and outside the studio.

    Review Studio Finances and Identify Ways to Increase Profit

    Summer is the time to assess your financial situation. Did you meet your revenue goals for the year? Do you feel confident in the growth of your business? Take some time to meet with a financial advisor. If needed, adjust tuition rates for the following year, and set a budget for various expenses.

    Furthermore, consider setting a dress code and offering classwear directly to students. With a small studio store or easy online e-commerce program, you can make purchasing classwear convenient for parents while increasing revenue at the studio.

    Set Your New Class Schedule for the Fall

    You might be thinking, “Time to think about fall already?!” Believe it or not, spring is the time to start thinking about class offerings and schedules for back-to-school season. Do some instructors need to switch up their schedule? Are there classes that you don’t plan to offer next year or classes that you are going to debut? Now is the time to figure out those details so that you have time to plan and promote the new season’s offerings to your community.

    Market Your Brand

    As you look to increase enrollment rates for the start of the fall season, it’s important you allocate resources towards marketing your brand. Consider offering personalized apparel that your students can wear in the studio, around town and at school. Buy ad space in local publications. Sponsor local events and provide your logo for promotional materials. Share fun and interactive content over your social media channels. However you choose to market your brand, make it a priority during the summer months when many parents will be considering extracurricular activities for their children before the start of the new school year.

    What’s on your business to-do list for the next few months? How do you balance all of your management responsibilities? We want to know! Comment below to share your thoughts.

  • Dance Competitions 101: The First-Timer’s Guide to a Successful Competition Season

    CC Blog PostBy: Terri Gustafson, Relationship Manager

    Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to competition season. To those of you who are preparing for your first dance competition as a studio owner or teacher: congratulations and break a leg! While this time of year can be stressful and trying for first-timers, if you are prepared and organized, it can also be highly rewarding and fun.

    As someone who has been lucky enough to judge numerous competitions throughout my more than 30 years of teaching dance, I can attest to the fact that a studio owner’s competition responsibilities can be difficult to juggle. To help manage the chaos, here are a few tried and true practices that I’ve discovered over the years that will keep you, your dancers and their parents calm, cool and collected during competition season:

     

      1. Communicate with Parents: Open the lines of communication with parents several months prior to upcoming competitions. With busy schedules to manage, parents will very much appreciate being made aware of competitions with enough notice to make educated decisions on which ones their child can participate in. To make parents’ scheduling decisions easier, try to avoid conflicts with other studio events, charity efforts, holidays and community events. Additionally, be sure to emphasize and regularly reiterate deadlines for signing up and providing registration fees.Beyond scheduling, be sure to communicate about travel logistics, as well. Providing as many details as you can, including hotel options and travel costs, is courteous and helps streamline the decision-making and scheduling processes.I always encourage studio owners to speak with parents in-person about competitions so that you can provide an in-depth overview of logistics and be available to answer questions or address concerns. Detailed handouts can be very helpful, especially when coupled with an in-person Q&A session.
      2. Inspire Confidence in Your Students: Have conversations with your dancers before each competition about how to remain calm and mature during tricky situations, such as forgetting their routine, or responding to a music malfunction. Helping them feel prepared will translate to helping them feel more confident. Remind your students that you are there for them to review choreography, help them warm-up and to cheer them on. Overall, be a positive role model. Shared lessons you’ve learned from first hand experiences competing or performing. Also, set an example by keeping professional throughout the competition – when your team wins, be humble and gracious; when you don’t, be a good sportsman.
      3. Tackle Competition Logistics Early: Checking registration deadlines and costs, as well as participation requirements, such as age groups and featured dance genres, are the first items to consider when determining if an event is a good fit for your team. When possible, try to look into these details sooner than later to save yourself a headache down the road. You don’t want to commit to a competition to later realize key members of your team are not available!Once you are confirmed to attend a competition, arrive early on the first day and take a tour of the facility noting where bathrooms, locker rooms, stages and water fountains are located and determine a meeting place for your team. After you’ve taken care of these matters, you may find yourself with some down time, in which you can take a walk to check out participating vendors.
      4. Pack Your Survival Kit: Remember to take care of yourself during long competitions by staying hydrated, well-nourished and rested. Help take care of yourself and your team by packing a survival kit.Pack a large bag with water bottles, snacks, back up music, make-up, oil wipes, hairspray, safety pins for clothing malfunctions and bobby pins for hair malfunctions and ice packs. It’s also wise to keep administration materials close to your side, such as an organized grid outlining your personal schedule, registration confirmations, emergency contact lists, floor plans, and lists of students participating in each routine. Additionally, don’t plan to have access to an outlet all day, so be sure to pack a portable battery pack.

    Competition season is an exciting time to enjoy, and a great way for your team and their parents to bond, so prepare as best you can. Remember your smile and compassion and be encouraging to all those participating.

    What are you most looking forward to this competition season? Tell us in the comments section below.

  • Ballets About Love: The Stories Behind the Movement


    Ballets about Love - Curtain Call Costumes

    On the heels of Valentine’s Day, romance lingers in the air, giving us the perfect excuse to talk about love.

    While most of us hope that the love we find for ourselves will be simple and unconditional, ballets explore love in all its forms, from silly and fun to dramatic and trying. In short, ballets feature romantic stories that run the gamut from true, to displaced to forbidden loves.

    Some ballets retell love stories found in literary classics, such as Shakespeare’s comedic and whimsical A Midsummer Night’s Dream, or his dramatic and tragic Romeo and Juliet, a tale of star-crossed lovers from rivaling families. On the other hand, some enchanting love stories, including Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, were fairy tales and ballets well before they were given new life as Disney classics.

    Many ballets feature romantic relationships, but some are lesser known. Yet that doesn’t mean their stories are any less poignant or powerful. Read on for the stories behind two of our favorite ballets in honor of Saint Valentine:

    Coppélia
    Coppélia is a comical ballet in which Dr. Coppélius creates a life-size dancing doll (which shares the story’s name) that sits on a neighborhood balcony. The doll is so lifelike that Franz, a village boy, becomes infatuated with the doll and sets aside his true heart's desire, Swanhilda, to pursue Coppélia.

    One day, Dr. Coppélius drops his keys, giving Swanhilda the opportunity to sneak around and ultimately learn that Coppélia is indeed a doll and not a person. Separately, Franz makes an attempt to get closer to Coppélia, whom he believes to be a beautiful girl. Shortly after, Dr. Coppélius returns to find Franz in his home. Enraged, the doctor gives Franz sleeping powder to ultimately sacrifice Franz’s soul to give Coppélia life.

    Swanhilda, who has been hiding in the doctor’s workshop behind the doll, escapes with Franz who realizes his one true love will always be Swanhilda.

    In the final act, Swanhilda and Franz are about to exchange their wedding vows when the angry Dr. Coppélius appears, claiming damages, but the mayor pays him off and the celebration continues.

     

    See Curtain Call costumes inspired by Coppélia:

    Peasant Dance
    Wonderful World
    Today's Song
    Singing in Spring

    Swan Lake
    Despite its initial unpopularity, Swan Lake, inspired by Russian folk tales, is now one of the most beloved ballets.

    Prince Siegfried, upset about not being able to marry for love, sets off in hunt of swans with a group of friends. After being separated from the group, Siegfried becomes entranced when one of the swans transforms into a beautiful girl, Odette.

    Odette and the other swans are victims of a terrible spell cast by the evil, owl-like sorcerer Von Rothbart. By day they are turned into swans and only at night, with the tears of Odette's mother dropped in the lake, do they return to human form. The spell can only be broken if one who has never loved before swears to love Odette forever.

    Seeing that Siegfried and Odette are falling in love, a concerned Von Rothbart arrives in disguise with his enchantress daughter, Odile, who is transformed so that she appears identical to Odette. Siegfried looks to marry her thinking she is Odette. Odette is distraught at Siegfried’s mistake, accusing him of betrayal.

    Heartbroken, Siegfried chooses to die alongside Odette by leaping into the lake before ascending into the heavens together.

    No matter what type of love these stories feature—tragic or lighthearted, complicated or straightforward—the common thread is that each is told beautifully by ballet dancers.

    What’s your favorite ballet about love? Tell us in the comments below!

     

    See Curtain Call costumes inspired by Swan Lake:

    Shimmering Lights
    Matte Satin Bodice

  • Inspiring Confidence Through Costumes Part Two: 2016 Trends

     

    Jessica Saunders, Curtain Call Costume Designer Jessica Saunders, Curtain Call Costume Designer

    Q&A with Jessica Saunders, Curtain Call Costume Designer

    Entering the world of performing arts opens the door to a number of professions that inspire creativity, talent and passion. Dancers and other performers, of course, make the list, but so do producers, set designers, choreographers, musicians and…….you guessed it! Costume designers.

    It’s impossible to ignore the talent of costume designers this time of year as we enter the height of awards season. With popular movies like Mad Max and Cinderella nominated for Academy Awards for best costume design, and television series like Downton Abby captivating audiences across the country, the critical contribution of costume designers in making stories come to life is undeniable.

    Here at Curtain Call our designers are dedicated to making your performances come to life by designing costumes that make every dancer feel confident. Not only should dancers look and feel good, they should also know that their costumes are reflecting the latest trends and most in-demand styles.

    Read on for a Q&A with Curtain Call designer Jessica Saunders about how and where she gathers inspiration and insights into the latest costume trends.

    How long have you worked in costume design? How did you get into this field?
    JS: I have been a costume designer at Curtain Call for the past 14 years. Prior to my time with Curtain Call, I actually designed sleepwear upon receiving my undergraduate degree from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in San Francisco.

    What inspires you?
    JS: This is a question that we, as designers, get asked a lot. When you’re doing something you love, from the heart, it never gets old, so honestly, I get inspiration everywhere and from everything. I definitely follow red carpet trends, high fashion runways and movie fashion. But I also rely on some trend forecasting sites (Trendstop, Fashion Vignette, PopSugar, Vogue), Pinterest, music videos, and I even gather inspiration from things like home décor. Our team of four designers will also shop the market in major fashion capitals like NYC and LA and drop into professional performances, like Broadway shows.

    How many designers are on your team? Are you each responsible for a certain line?
    JS: There are four designers on the Curtain Call team. For the most part, we all have an equal share of every line. We have changed it up over the years, but it’s best to have everyone’s input in making a particular line the very best it can be.

    What dance genre is your favorite to design costumes for?
    JS: This definitely changes from year to year. I really enjoy the process of researching and gathering inspiration for a line. The types of inspiration I come across really determine my excitement when beginning to design for a particular genre. This year, I am really eager to design for the Pop Hop line. I have quite a few fun prints I am excited to use and some trendy silhouettes gathered from street fashion.

    Were you ever a dancer?
    JS: Yes! Throughout middle school and high school I studied basically every style of dance, but tap was always my favorite.

    What are your thoughts on street style influencing style in the studio or on stage and vice versa?
    JS: Street style absolutely inspires stage style—especially when you consider a style like hip hop, which is heavily inspired by street dancers. You definitely see street trends, like athleisure, for example, making its way into popular dance styles.

    What costume styles are going to be trendy in 2016 (colors, fabrics, silhouettes, etc.)? How do these trends differ from last year? Years past?
    JS: This year we will definitely see cold-shoulder treatment, embroidered cut outs and panels, bold graphic patterns and patterns with shine. Cold-shoulder treatments are coming back in style, while bold graphic patterns and patterns with shine have been trendy for several years now. Sequins are a forever staple in dance. They look fantastic on stage, and that will never change.

    Additionally, a few more styles that are going to be big this year are:

    • Geometric panel designs, giving a modern or athleisure feel for jazz and contemporary
    • X style necklines, incorporating a version of shoulderless sleeves for contemporary
    • Feminine ornamental laces on nude mesh for ballet and contemporary

    How often do trends in different dance genres affect each other or cross over?
    JS: So many of our styles can be used in multiple dance genres. This is particularly the case in the Jazz and Contemporary sections. Fabric and music cross dance genres so it makes sense that our designs do too. Curtain Call customers are full of creativity. They are always coming up with great ways to use our styles in ways we haven’t considered. Their originality is an inspiration to us.

    The 2016 Pantone colors of the year are Rose Quartz and Serenity. Will these influence costume designs this year?
    JS: Absolutely. You can expect to see Rose Quartz and Serenity appear more frequently in street and stage style, especially since fabric vendors rely heavily on Pantone predictions.

    Are there are other colors that you think will take center stage / or that you’d like to see become a top color in 2016?
    JS: Red, pink and other bright colors look great on stage. Gem tones, which have been on the Pantone list in recent years, will be popular, as will gold.

    What advice do you have for aspiring costume designers?
    JS: Stay humble and open to new experiences! Being a designer is so much more than making pretty sketches. Staying creative year after year, following a timeline with stressful expectations and plenty of noncreative assignments is what the job really entails. Dedication and hard work will make you an asset to your team and a success no matter what path you take.

    What do you hope will be the biggest 2016 costume trend? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

  • Inspiring Confidence Through Costumes Part One: Choosing the Right Look for Every Dancer

    Costumes for Every Body TypeAccording to research conducted at the School of Psychology at University of Hertfordshire, ninety-six percent of women believe that what they wear affects how confident they feel, and dancers are no exception to this rule.

    In dance, it’s very possible to have a wide range of body types within one class, especially with children and pre-teen age groups, where dancers are still growing. This can present challenges for dance teachers and studio owners in regards to selecting costumes that will make all of their dancers feel comfortable and happy.

    To ensure every dancer feels confident on stage, it is important for studio owners to find styles that will flatter each dancer in the group. To help teachers and studio owners successfully do this, here is Curtain Call’s guide to selecting the best silhouettes, fabrics and styles to outfit their classes:

    For All Dancers:

    For a class of all sizes, try a costume with a velvet bodice. Stretch velvets are great fabrics for those classes that span across the size chart. Velvet is most flattering when worn with other materials, such as tulle, to balance the shine and texture. (Smooth Motion E1376)

    To flatter a range of body types, try a tunic. Tunics, particularly ones with belts that accentuate the waist and flare out around the hips, can be very flattering, no matter your body shape. Because tunics may add volume to the upper body, it's best to balance them with tighter bottoms, such as jazz pants or leggings. (Jazz Zone E1446)


     

    For Curvy Dancers:

    Try wearing tank or cap sleeves. Tanks and slanted cap sleeves are great options for the bustier dancer as they are bra-friendly. Some styles also feature more modest or higher cut necklines, which can help elongate the body. (To Live We Love R353, Adornment E1371)

    For a slimming effect, try a sash. Sashes or other waist design treatments are great slimming features on many costume styles. These intricate details also create a look of cohesion when dancers are wearing different variations of the same costume. Sashes that run diagonally across the chest can also provide a lengthening effect. (Stand By You R398)


     

    For Lean Dancers:

    For lean dancers, try jackets and peplum styles. These styles are very trendy and can help create the illusion of shape, balance out proportions, or enhance curves that are already there. All body types can benefit from these styles. (Bright Lights J5019)

    For more slight dancers, try defining lines. High necklines, empire shapes and details on the bust can define shape and showcase a soft, feminine look. These styles transform slender physiques into a more curvy shape by creating the illusion of a fuller bust and hips. (One More Dance E1417)


     

    For On-Stage Group Asthetics:

    For big groups, try universally flattering colors. By choosing colors that look good on everyone, the group’s confidence can lead to a stellar performance. Try wearing emerald, charcoal, fuchsia, navy blue, cobalt blue, teal, purple or multi-colored ensembles. (Jam Up E1425)

    For different heights, try altered skirts or pants. Height differences among dancers can make picking a skirt length a challenge for classes. Choose pants and skirts that are easily hemable or separates that can be tied at a desired length. (Uptown Beat J5029)

     

    Download Inspiring Confidence Through Costumes Part I: Choosing the Right Look for Every Dancer (PDF)

  • New Year, New Blog

    Curtain-Call-2016-BlogFriends of Curtain Call,

    Happy New Year! 2016 is already off to an exciting start: our model casting calls are in full force (and the talent is incredible!). It was recently announced that Dirty Dancing will be revived for the small screen this year, Flesh & Bone was nominated for several Golden Globes and So You Think You Can Dance is celebrating its tenth birthday. Yes, I think this will be an exciting year for dance, indeed.

    We at Curtain Call don’t like to sit in the wings as exciting things happen—we like to stand with you at center stage. That’s why our New Year’s resolution is to not only provide you with the best dance costumes and service, but to also provide business and dance tips that all studio owners, dance teachers and dancers can use.

    It is with great pleasure that I officially mark the relaunch of the Curtain Call blog. Here you will find insights into topics like: costume design trends, how to prepare for each dance season, best business practices for studios, dance culture and exciting developments in the dance world. We would love to serve as a trusted resource to you on these topics.

    We hope you’ll follow along with our blog and be an active member of our community as we discuss various topics that are important to all dancers and dance lovers. I encourage you to comment on these blogs and share your insights and questions.

    Keep dancing,
    Tighe

    Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

  • It's Cold Outside: Let's Warm Up!

    Throughout the course of my education and career in dance, I have watched countless peers, students and friends be resigned to sitting in the wings for a season due to heartbreaking injuries that could have been avoided by properly warming up.

    As dancers, we need to take care of our bodies—they are our instruments, after all! As teachers, we have a responsibility to make sure that our students not only take the time to warm up, but understand best practices for avoiding injuries and feeling their very best.

    While warming up is a personal process that will differ from dancer to dancer, there are some general guidelines to follow that can help ensure a warm up is complete and effective. To help communicate these guidelines to dancers of every age and technique level, we’ve compiled insights and tips from various medical and dance resources into the below infographic. Feel free to share it with your students and fellow dancers!
    Have a warm up routine to share? Or ideas for helping students understand the importance of warming up? Share in the comments below!

    Always Dancing,

    Stacey Raab
    Curtain Call Relationship Manager

    Infographic-WarmUp

  • NX3: The New Generation of Fashion

    Curtain Call® has been awarded exclusive distribution privileges for NX3™, a fresh new Hip Hop dance and apparel collection. This exclusive agreement gives Curtain Call® the opportunity to offer studios exclusive pricing on a new generation of fashion that represents the freedom of expression and style.

    The NX3™ collection was developed in collaboration with Will and Monique Wingfield, master class dance artists with 20+ years’ experience working in the dance and entertainment industry, and inspired by dancers who understand the true definition of Hip Hop is not to be defined. “Hip Hop is more than music – it’s a culture, a state of mind. It’s the way you walk, talk, dress, and act.”—Will & Moe Wingfield.

    The NX3™ collection is intended to enhance the current Curtain Call® lines and serve the dance community looking for an urban streetwear appearance that complements the Hip Hop aesthetic. Curtain Call® will continue to offer traditional costumes and accessories ensuring that all customers’ performance needs are fulfilled.

    NX3™ – Music ∙ Movement ∙ Lifestyle catalog will be available to Curtain Call customers VERY SOON!  Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for the big announcement!

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