Rehabilitation for Dancers

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By Alison Preston
Dancer, Yoga Instructor

As a dancer for the past 25 years, I have experienced my share of injuries. It can be difficult to decide what track of recovery to follow, especially when you need to be back in the studio or on stage as soon as possible. Recovery can be hard when you can’t find a professional who understands your needs and abilities as a dancer, especially if it is you first injury.

Below are some professionals in the Twin Cities Metro area who have worked with dancers and athletes to prevent and recover from injuries.For those of you living outside the Twin Cities, I’ve also included a search engine to locate doctors in your area.

(Listed in no particular order)
Shawn Douglass, CMT*
Specialty: deep tissue massage

Jennifer Armitage, PT**
MN Medical Rehabilitative Services LLC

Dave Wieber, MTC***
Body Balance
2070 W. 96th Street
Bloomington, MN 55431

Raul Centeno, CMT*
Specialty – massage for injury prevention

Click here for a search engine to find doctors across the U.S.
(Click on Doctor Locator, not the Doctor Search.)

*CMT – Certified Massage Therapist
**PT – Physical Therapist
***MTC – Certified Manual Trainer

Note: I am in no way a medical professional. My opinions are based solely on my experience as a dancer in recovery. Please consult with a physician and check insurance coverage before taking on any recovery programs. Good luck on your path to healing!

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Where Can Dance Lead Me?

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By Ashley Collingwood

Many dancers focus their career on performance, but many young professionals remain unaware of the variety of career choices in dance. With all of the knowledge a young dancer gathers during training in the art form, it can be utilized later on in several ways. Aside from knowing proper technique, dancers should be educated in terminology, the business aspect of dance, the stage, dance criticism, history, anatomy, as well as performance quality. This allows a dancer to be well rounded in the field of dance- opening doors to different career choices in the dance world.

A lot of dancers end up teaching and/or choreographing for a living. These options allow a dancer to be creative and share their love of dance with others. A professional can teach children at dance studios, conventions, or end up choreographing for major dance companies or productions. The insight in terminology, anatomy, and performance quality aids the professional teacher and choreographer to pass information along.

There is always a business aspect behind each job. Managers, directors, talent agents, and dance studio owners are all required. Within manager positions, there are business, company, production, and stage managers. Both artistic and rehearsal directors are necessities for companies to set the artistic direction and keep the choreography pure to the choreographer’s vision. Talent agents seek talent for gigs, while dance studio owners have to be organized and maintain the function of their studio. Although all of these jobs expect knowledge in business and leadership, it is important to know dance as an art form as well.

With every show, there is a behind the scenes crew. Without this crew, a performance would be nearly impossible. The technical production employees are great assets to this industry. Lighting and scenic designers help make a performance possible. With every performance, costumes, hair and makeup top it off. Although some costuming is more elaborate than others, it seems to complete a performance no matter what. Many productions are in need of professional costume designers, hair stylists, and makeup artists to contribute their creativity.

Three other interesting options for careers are in journalism, dance therapy, and massage therapy. When getting into journalism, a dancer can use his or her knowledge to write reviews on performances, trends, or tips. Dancers are creative beings, so writing is a perfect way to express that. Dance therapy, on a completely different line of the spectrum is good for dancers who work well with people and interested in the psychotherapeutic use of movement. A dancer may also be interested in massage therapy. A dancer’s awareness of his or her body, as well as an understanding of anatomy and physiology, can make massage therapy a great career option.

Not all jobs require a degree. However, being well educated is helpful when in the pursuit of different options throughout the dance field. These are just a handful of ideas to look into while determining a future dance career. Ways to try on these options include auditioning, developing leadership skills, experience, and determination. Continue to explore the field of dance!

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The Hunt For College Scholarships

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by Joan H. Bress, LICSW, CEP

There’s money out there for students headed to college dance programs. Learn how to find it!

With college costs increasing at nearly double the rate of inflation, those of you headed to college have good reason to be concerned. Although the 1997 Taxpayers Relief Act softened the tuition blow for middle-income families and has encouraged saving early for future college expenses, paying for college tuition is still a major issue for most families.

The Total Package
Financial aid is money offered to students to help pay college expenses. It’s offered by both the federal and state governments, individual colleges and private organizations. It may come in the form of grants, which do not have to be repaid; work-study, which is a salary paid in return for work you do while you’re enrolled; or loans, which you must repay after you finish college or stop taking classes. Some aid is based on how much a student needs in order to pay the cost of education and some is based on non-financial factors such as academic, athletic or artistic talent; community service and leadership; contribution to the community in some unique way or membership in a particular group or organization.

Financial aid is given in a “package” that usually consists of a combination of grants, loans and campus employment, often including both need-based and non-need-based aid. At some colleges, as many as 70 percent of students receive aid.

How Do I Apply?
To apply for financial aid, you must complete one or more of the following forms:

•   Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
•   Financial Aid CSS PROFILE
•   College Financial Aid Application
•   Private Scholarship Application

Your answers to the FAFSA determine your eligibility for federal student aid. This form is also used to apply for some aid from the state and college. The majority of financial aid comes from the federal government, so all students applying for aid should fill out the FAFSA. It includes questions about parent/student income, assets and expenses for the calendar year preceding the student’s matriculation. The FAFSA, which may be filed electronically or in paper form, calculates the amount of money the government believes your family should be able to pay for educational expenses. This expected family contribution (EFC) is reported to you and to all of the colleges you’ll be applying to.

Since the expected family contribution is calculated by using a standard form prescribed by Congress, the amount you are expected to pay does not vary from one college to another. The cost of attending different colleges, however, does vary. Your need is calculated as the difference between the cost of attending the college and the amount your family is expected to contribute. The more expensive the college, the greater your need. The COST of attendance minus EXPECTED FAMILY CONTRIBUTION equals NEED. Suppose your family has an EFC of $15,000 per year and you are considering two colleges. College A has a cost (tuition plus room, board and expenses) of $33,000 per year. College B has a cost of $15,000. Your NEED for College A would be $18,000 while your NEED for College B would be $0 (see the chart).

College A $33, 000 – $15, 000 = $18,000
Your financial “ need” would be $18,000 per year.
College B $15,000 – $15,000 = $0 you would have no financial need.

Although colleges try to meet the demonstrated need of all students, there’s often not enough money from the government or from the school’s resources, to do this. While it is true that some of the most expensive schools have the greatest amount of money available for financial aid, it’s a good idea to select colleges with a range of costs, including some that are totally within the financial reach of your family.


File the FAFSA even if you believe that you’re not eligible for need-based aid. Some non-need-based programs require you to show that you do not qualify for federal aid.

Apply early. Colleges generally do not have enough of either their own or Uncle Sam’s money to meet the needs of all students who qualify.

Keep track of deadlines. The FAFSA should be filed as soon as possible, after January 1. Each college sets its own deadline for the PROFILE, sometimes as early as December 15.

Be accurate. The time needed to correct errors may cause you to miss out on some sources of aid. Know that you may be asked to verify the information you supply on financial aid forms. Keep copies of all relevant material.

Remember that the best aid packages go to the most desirable students. Keep your grades up and choose your colleges carefully.

The PROFILE is a form used by about 900 schools, as well as some private scholarship programs, to award non-federal aid. Although similar to the FAFSA, the PROFILE asks for more detailed information about the family’s resources and expenses. Depending on the requirements of the schools you apply to, the PROFILE may include two supplemental applications and up to 150 additional questions.

Unlike the FAFSA, it’s not free. It is processed centrally for a $5 registration fee, and reports are sent to colleges of your choice at a cost of $15 per school.

Other colleges may have their own financial aid application in addition to the FAFSA. As this type of form is part of the admission application, there is no additional fee required to file it. Private sources of financial aid also have their own application process, which may include essays, interviews, portfolios and/or auditions.

Non-Need-Based Aid
In addition to need-based aid, schools offer non-need-based aid—often called merit aid—to students whom they want to attract to their school. While need-based aid is likely to be made up largely of loans which must be repaid, merit aid is more likely grant money, which does not need to be repaid. When selecting your colleges, consider some schools that will be eager to have you as a student. The most desirable students can expect the best financial aid package—one heaviest in non-repayable grants.

At some schools, any student who presents a pre-set high school average and SAT score qualifies for merit aid. Sometimes, this award includes the opportunity to take special honors-level classes or to work more closely with professors. Schools may also allocate merit-based aid for students with particular talents, in which case, an audition or portfolio presentation would be necessary (see DS February 2000).

Non-Institutional Aid
Wise students look beyond their college and the government for financial aid. Both need-based aid and merit aid are offered by philanthropic foundations, religious and community organizations, businesses, civic groups and organizations connected to your field of interest. Some of these scholarships are highly competitive and require in-depth applications. You should leave yourself plenty of time to prepare. Online scholarship search engines help students locate appropriate awards. If you’re an academically and artistically talented student, you should look into scholarships offered by the National Alliance For Excellence and the National Foundation For Advancement In The Arts.

Scholarships Of Special Interest To Dancers

•   National Alliance For Excellence, Inc
•   National Foundation For Advancement In The Arts
•   Harlequin Dance Scholarship Program

Online Financial Aid Resources

•  College Board: Information about selecting and applying to college. Includes links to the PROFILE and a free scholarship search.
•   FinAid: The most complete source of online financial aid information. Includes a free scholarship search, information on loans and grants and a calculator to help you project college costs, likely scholarship awards and loan repayment plans.
•   SallieMae: Offers college financing solutions, cost calculators and scholarship and loan information.
•   FastAid: Free scholarship search engine.
•   FAFSA: Complete the FAFSA online and immediately receive your expected family contribution figure.
•   US Department of Education: Information on tax credits, federal and state aid and private funding sources.

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Team Building Activities

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By Liz Bercaw

Undoubtedly, dance coaches have to access team-building instruction through various association resources. Once the competitive season arrives, it will be filled with busy schedules, making it tough to draw upon professional writings. So, here are some quick team building ideas, along with some great ideas from regional dance coaches that will inspire you to employ some quick team-building ideas.

Reasons for doing “team-building” are myriad, but thinking about them requires analytical reflection, a time consuming intense activity. Here are some clear reasons for team-building set forth by the UDA (Universal Dance Association): build moral, build trust, build flexibility, and reinforce cooperation and creativity. A coach can achieve these by either conducting activities or “games” that directly train skills that induce these results, or as many coaches do, embed such training into regular dance season processes.

Encouraging good relationships is essential to team-building. Karen Christie, coach of Minneapolis Southwest, utilizes “Secret Sisters” a longer running version of the holiday favorite “Secret Santa.” Later in the season, to further bond your team, Kathryn Krause, Lakeville South Dance Coach likes to use “The Web.” A ball of yarn is thrown from dancer to dancer, the first telling something they value about the second. By the time each person is holding four or five pieces of yarn, a huge web has been formed. Two dancers are asked to let go of their strings while everyone watches what happens to the web, you can guess the result. Other group bonding activities suggested by coaches include showing impromptu movies and doing original choreography of short dances in groups.

It follows that exercises in group development discussed above, would also aid communication, the delivery of instruction or critique, two of the objectives achievable through UDA written games. Adding the element of perception can bring about smoother harmony during rehearsals. The goal of these games is to reveal to participants how they perceive situations or even objects differently than others. They are designed to break down preconceived stereotypes.

Remember to debrief so dancers can analyze how to apply game lessons to practices and competitions.

Team Building Ideas from Coaches
Kathryn Krause: Lakeville South Dance Coach
“As far as team bonding activities go, at the end of the season my college dance team would make what we called “the web.” We have a ball of yarn, and you throw it from girl to girl. Each person who throws it has to tell the person they throw it to something they value about them. It can be dance wise, personality, etc. That person then throws to someone else, and so on, and so forth. Our team was usually able to do this for about two hours. Everyone would be holding four or five pieces of the yarn and in the middle of the circle would be a huge web. We would have two people let go and see how it loosened the web. We would then talk about how this web is what makes us a team. Without one or two parts of the web, it is not as strong. Doing this four years in a row is one of my all time favorite college memories.”

Natalie Howlett-Albrecht: Head Coach of the Centennial Dance Team
“I really like to do surprise team bonding. At one of my regularly scheduled practices, I would plan an outing to go see a movie or just spend the entire practice letting the team get to know each other, I really like to give them a song and let them be creative, letting them make up dances that they show at the end of practice. It is really fun to see the interesting things that they come up with.”

Sara Willcutt: Head Coach of the Augsburg College Dance Team and the Ascending Star Dance Team
“I have my team sit in a circle and go around so that everyone has a chance to talk. I ask different questions such as: your favorites, something we don’t know about you, something unique about you, your goals as a dancer, ideas for the team this season, and so on. One of Augsburg’s favorite circle talks is when we say something positive that we admire about the dancer sitting to their right. We go around so everyone can feel good about themselves and see the positives that their team members see in them. Team chants and traditions are an important part of team bonding.”

Karen Christine: Minneapolis Southwest Dance Team Coach and Instructor at the Chanhassen Dance
“Team bonding is so important. Because my team is so close with each other, it makes them perform better! We like to play games like “Monkey in a Tree” with partners, we also do secret sisters. A fun way to do secret sisters is to put everyone’s name on a piece of paper and put it in a balloon and have everyone grab a balloon. They have to sit on it to pop it. They also do pasta parties before competitions to get the carbs in the night before! They watch dance tapes and eat food!”

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Teambuilding Tactics

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by Valerie S. Potsos

“Welcome to your NEW dance team! Now, we are all going to get along and it’s going to be great!”

That’s quite an assumption. As coaches with a new team, we want our dancers to get along. But some of us assume that camaraderie will happen overnight. But, YOU CAN influence how your team will function! It won’t happen magically. Well-planned team building activities will ensure a successful season!

Be proactive. Do NOT wait until there is a conflict to implement team building activities. From your first practice to your last game, it is essential that you use team building as an integral part of your program.

If you are a new team or a veteran team, you need to ask yourself, “What objective do I hope to accomplish with a team building activity?” You also need to ask, “How will I assess their progress?” For example, if you are a new team, Icebreakers and Introduction games are essential. Debrief your Introduction/Icebreaker games by asking, “What did you find out about your members?” “What is something unusual or interesting?” Further, you need to assess whether they seem to feel more comfortable and relaxed.

Or, if you are in the middle of the season, and your team is not getting along, try Perception and Communication games. Communication activities help identify ways that we can improve our interaction skills. How we say something isn’t always how it is interpreted. These types of games can help identify our weak areas. Further, Perception games are generally fun for everyone to use. They are designed to see how participants perceive different situations or objects. Participants learn how to use lateral thinking, to look at things in different ways, and to break down any preconceived stereotypes they might be using.

Group Development games are used to improve the relationship of the individuals and subgroups within the team. You should be aware that when you are conducting Group Development exercises, identification of a conflict or problem between different individuals might become apparent. However, you will be able to solve this problem once it is identified. Debriefing your Group Development activity is crucial so that there isn’t any anger or frustration.

Facilitator or Presentation games help members think about how they instruct a group. These types of games can be especially helpful to your choreographers who are teaching dances or captains who lead warm-ups.

Mid-Course Energizer games are important when the team seems to be losing interest or “going through the motions.” The middle of basketball season or after a competition, these games can get your team recharged and motivated again!

Learning games teach us how to organize our thoughts and ideas. If you have members who are having difficulty memorizing routines, using learning games will test their skills and teach them how to organize their thoughts. These types of games are usually brainteaser type games.

Evaluation exercises are for participants to evaluate either themselves or the program. These are usually used at the end of the year, but can be used throughout the year. As a facilitator, you must make sure that these games are used constructively not destructively.

Self-Management games teach individual group members how to use their time-management and organizational skills. Participants will receive a lot of information and new ideas from other members within the group.

Just as a teacher devises a lesson plan, you must also plan your team building activities. Always debrief with your group. That way, they can analyze what they learned and how they can apply it to practices, games and competitions. (Refer to your UDA Handbook for ideas on how to debrief.)

Remember, not every teambuilding activity is a success. But, you need to keep trying! Find out your team’s personality. What inspires them? Use these observations to plan your activities. Most importantly, your activities should be fun and educational. They can be a great way to break the tension at a tough practice! Good luck and enjoy!

1. To make a point
2. To build team morale
3. To trust each other
4. To become more flexible
5. To reinforce cooperation
6. To reinforce creativity

1. Icebreakers
2. Group Development
3. Communication
4. Facilitator/Presentation Skills
5. Energizer
6. Learning
7. Perception
8. Evaluation
9. Self-Management

(These can be found in your UDA Handbook)
1. CD Cover Design – Introduction Game
2. Team Mission Statement – Group Development
3. Balloon Trolleys – Group Development and Communication
4. The Leadership Puzzle – Learning, Perception, and Group Development
5. Drill Downs – Learning and Self Management

Universal Dance Association
UDA is your best resource for team building games. Call your local rep or ask your staff instructor at camp. UDA will have the latest ideas and games for you at summer camp.

Teambuilding Activities for Every Group – by Alanna Jones
The Big Book of Teambuilding Games – by Edward Scannell
Successful Teambuilding (Baron’s Series) – by Graham Willcocks and Steven Morris

Valerie’s credentials include: UDA Advisor-Trainer, Kimball High School Varsity Dance Coach, Kimball Dance Company Advisor/Director, Motor City All-Star Dance Team, Writer for Dance Spirit, American Cheerleader, and In Motion Magazines, Former Captain of the University of Michigan Dance Team.

If you would like to email Valerie, you can contact her at

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A Guide to Income Taxes for Professional Dancers

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by Sara Willcutt

Tax season can be frustrating, especially for dancers who work several different jobs throughout the year. As a professional dancer, it is important to keep accurate records of your income and expenses in order to complete your tax return at the end of the year. Record keeping is essential whether you are dealing with a company, pick-up jobs or both.

Employment Forms and Deductions
After you are hired, your employer should give you a W-4 form to complete, which provides a guide in determining what percentage of taxes to withhold from your paychecks.

When you fill out the W-4, make sure you are withholding enough money. Federal taxes should account for at least ten percent of your income. Specific rules differ for each state, but you can find complete federal information by visiting

If you are an independent contractor, you are responsible for paying your own social security tax, which is about 15.3% of your net income minus the allowed deductions, state and federal taxes. If the total of your net self-employed earnings from all businesses is $400 or more, you must pay into the Social Security and Medicare systems by filing Form 1040, Schedule SE.

It is especially important for dancers who work in different states throughout the year to keep records of work locations and be aware of the tax laws for those states. You are responsible for paying taxes to the states in which you have worked regardless of your residency. For example, if you worked in a show in Los Angeles but live in New York, you are still required to pay income tax for the work you did in L.A.

Tax rules are subject to revisions from time to time, but it is your job to stay informed of any relevant changes. Check with the IRS for any updates, and ask your employer if you have questions.

End-of-the-Year Forms
The employer provides a W-2 form at the end of the year, which lists the income and deduction amounts you need to complete your tax return. Your employer has until January 31st of the year after you worked to give you a W-2.

For any jobs in which you were employed as an independent contractor, the employer provides a 1099 form rather than a W-2. However, the employer only provides a 1099 form if you were paid $600 or more in that year. Keep in mind that you are responsible for reporting and paying taxes on income received from employers in yearly amounts less than $600, even though you do not receive a 1099 form.

What to Record
Income taxes can be a little confusing, but just be sure to keep records andreceipts. Keep track of your mileage and other costs that you incur as a dancer. Get an accordion folder or file cabinet where you can keep your records organized. You can keep a small notebook and pen in the car to record your mileage if you are deducting work-related travel expenses.

Keep in mind that there are many rules about deductions. For example, if you teach at a dance studio, you cannot deduct the miles that it takes you to get from your home to work and back. But if you take your team to a competition, you can deduct those miles. For complete rules about deductions, refer to the IRS Web site.

How to File
You can complete your taxes by using commercial software such as Turbo Tax or Tax Cut, or by using the free online program at

Professional Help
Some people may think that using an accountant is expensive, but if you keep accurate records and do most of the prep work, the cost can be minimized. In addition, you can research by asking others which accountants they have found to be efficient but reasonably priced. You can often find rates for accountants on their Web sites or call them directly.

An accountant can provide help from a professional who is familiar with all of the tax rules. If you can find an accountant who has had experience working with performers, they may know about additional deductions of which you were not aware.

If you decide to work with an accountant, choose carefully and understand that even if the accountant completes your taxes, you are still responsible for the content and accuracy of the return.

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Starting a Dance Studio

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By Sara Willcutt

There are many new studios opening all the time. Talented people with a passion for dance want to share their vision with others. The competition between all the studios benefits the dance community by providing higher quality instruction. Unfortunately, many new studios close during the first year. Why? The first year of business is the hardest. During the first year, a business owner has to deal with insurance, taxes, accounting, advertising, hiring employees, renting or buying space, trying to recruit dancers to take their classes and running the business.

Are you ready to start? Write down a list of the pro’s and con’s.
Here is a list of things to consider:

•   Business licensing requirements
•   Sales and promotions
•   Legal responsibilities
•   Building client relationships
•   Taxation
•   Budgeting
•   Accounting
•   General ledgers
•   Business and marketing plans
•   Loans and financial obligations

The success of any business depends on planning and preparation. There are a lot of exciting decisions to make, such as designing flyers and choosing a syllabus to teach, but there is more.

It is equally important to think about the business side of things. This can be overwhelming, but allow time to research and study. Take business classes. Many community centers and local groups offer affordable classes. Look around to find one that fits. Some classes are one time only, while others are in a series. Information about starting a business can be found at the Internal Revenue Service website.

Information from the IRS: Small Business and Self-Employed One-Stop Resource.

Read! There are many great business books available. Try the library, bookstores and online sources.

Minnesota Women Venture has great resources and classes, as well as scholarships and savings programs to aid in success.

Another way to learn is from the experience of others. Find a mentor. A mentor is someone who has experience and success in business and is willing to commit long term to help guide you through the initial stages and on to your long-term goals.

Costs can vary. Some mentors will offer free services, while others charge up to $200 per hour. SCORE is a great resource where you can ask questions and get help free of charge. There are offices in many locations.

Mentors do not need to have experience in the dance industry. Basic business skills are much the same from industry to industry. You may know someone successful in business; consider asking him/her to be a mentor.

When making business decisions, remember to research, compare costs and ask questions.

Starting a business is a process. Stay dedicated and work hard, but give time to prepare before opening. Writing a business plan is a good place to start. You can find guidance on the SCORE website:

•   60-Second Guide to Writing a Business Plan
•   Resources That Give You a Head Start of Business Planning
•   5 Tips for Writing a Business Plan For a Loan
•   Top 5 Business Tips

A business plan should cover every aspect of your business and make sure you are ready to open your studio. Some of the things included in a business plan are:

•   Target market
•   Location for school
•   Planning for growth
•   Staff employment
•   Pricing
•   Cash flow
•   Overhead costs
•   Calculating break-even point
•   Promotions and marketing
•   Product or service description
•   Description of your position
•   Description of employment positions
•   Contingency plans
•   Accounting
•   Organization type: sole proprietor, partnership, corporation, limited liability corporation, non-profit

What are your strengths and weaknesses? How can you emphasize your strengths and compensate for your weaknesses? What opportunities and help are available to you?What is your competition? How would you fill a need in the community?

There are many great software programs designed to help organize and run businesses. Some are listed in the resources section under software for studios.

Also, try the message link boards to get ideas and answers to questions.

With research and planning, along with your passion and talent, you can succeed in business and create a wonderful learning environment for the community.

Rent or Buy? Consider your plans for the next five to ten years. Do you want to start small and save up to move into a larger space? Do you have the capital to start in your ideal space? As you start to look at options, remember to evaluate all the costs involved.

Renting a space that is already set up as a dance studio is good for a small business owner on a tight budget. Renting also provides more flexibility if the studio gains many students and needs to move to a larger space.

Plan Ahead: You need the ability to sublet some or all of the space. If student enrollment grows quickly, you may need to move to a larger space before the lease is up. Read the lease very carefully to make sure subletting will be an option.

Maintenance: When renting space, it is the landlord’s responsibility to provide building maintenance. Find a reliable landlord. Some may get around to fixing things fast, while others take a long time to respond and may be difficult to contact. Find a landlord that you feel comfortable with.

Remodeling: Some landlords will help with the cost of remodeling, especially if they believe it will make the space more profitable in the future or if they have a long term commitment from their renter. Some landlords, however, will not help with these costs.

When deciding about a space, consider how mush remodeling will need to be done immediately. Talk with the landlord to see if they are willing to help with any costs. It they say yes, get it in writing. Business owners should be prepared to modify the space themselves, or work with what is already there.

Rent Increases: One drawback of renting is the potential for rent increases. One option to protect yourself is to negotiate rent increases ahead of time.

Get Help: A commercial real estate lawyer can help you go over the leases and understand its implications. It is great to be excited about your plans and want to move forward. However, it is important to know exactly what you are getting into. There are several organizations that provide free or inexpensive counsel to the arts community.

Buying a Space: Buying is a big commitment. Many business owners start out renting, build up a student enrollment, save capital and then, expand to a larger space or to owning a space as a way to move forward.

Things to Consider: One benefit can be that payment will not increase over time. Also, if you want to sell your, space you can often do so at a profit.

The Capital Challenge: The amount of capital needed for a down payment coupled with remodeling costs can be a real challenge to come up with. Owning a space requires long term planning. Besides the initial investment, owners are responsible for maintenance and property taxes.

Help from the Government: To help small businesses succeed, the US government allows owners to write off the interest on a mortgage as a tax deduction. To find out more about deductions and help in planning your business, go to

The Benefits of Owning: The space you own is yours to change and remodel as you see fit for your establishment. Stable payment amounts help with long term planning for the school. Recognition in the community is very important. When you stay in one location and build a good reputation, you will have a steady enrollment of students.

It can be difficult to change spaces. If you move to a new location, you will probably lose some students just because of the move.

Zoning: Whether you are renting or buying space, you need to find a location that is zoned for a dance studio.

The Type of Space: Some industrial spaces work well for dance studios because they have large open spaces. You may need to take down walls to open up the area needed for classes. Industrial spaces may be available at lower cost simply because they lack the divided areas for office space.

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Self-Marketing for Dancers

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By Sara Willcutt

1) Start with a Dance Resume
Your dance resume should highlight your experiences and accomplishments in order to foster your current dance goals.

The resume will include a cover letter, photos, reviews if you have them, references and for some a video.

Your resume is your advertisement to choreographers or dance company directors.

Do not make your resume an autobiography or list every performance you have ever been in. Try to keep your resume to one page. This may mean that you can’t put down everything. This is where you need to make choices and think about what job you are auditioning or applying for.

Your resume is important and it can set you apart form others.

2) Take Your Time and Do Your Best
Your resume needs to be perfect; getting a job could depend on it. You should make sure your resume is updated and that you always have someone proofread it to check for any errors. If you resume is sloppy, full of errors or confusing, it might imply that you are not motivated to do your best.

A clean well-written resume can give potential employers confidence that you pay attention to details and are professional and serious about your dance career.

3) Do Your Research
Before you create or update your dance resume, be sure to research the company or groups that will be looking at it. This can allow you to personalize your resume and cover letter to be more effective. Make sure you spell the director’s name correctly. Find out where the director has danced and studied. Find out the name of the artistic director.

To Do Your Research:

  • Look in the ASD Dance Directory find links to dance company web sites.
  • Look at Dance Magazine and Dance Spirit magazine to find articles about particular companies.
  • Look for reviews done in the New York Times.
  • Search the company name on big search engines like Google and Bing to see what comes up. You can also search the director’s name.
  • Go to the library and look at Stern’s Performing Arts Directory, which is most likely in your local library. It lists every Dance Company, their addresses and phone number.
  • Look at Cyber Dancer Page which is linked to many dance sites.

4) Make Contact
Call your target companies and ask to talk with the person in charge of public relations. Tell them that you are a dancer that is interested in auditioning for the company. Ask for information on their repertoire for the past five years and the repertoire the company intends to dance this season. Ask where the company is planning to tour, for the director’s biography and to whom you should send your audition materials. Offer your e-mail address so that it might be easier for them to e-mail rather that mail you information.

Try to find a member or former member of your target companies to talk with. You might find them through a find or some contact information on the companies’ website. Ask them questions such as:

•   Who teaches at rehearsals?
•   What are the rehearsals like?
•   What is the director like?
•   How are the dancers treated?
•   What is the range of salaries?
•   What time of year do the dancers return their letters of intent?

A letter of intent is a letter from the artistic director indicating his intent to continue working with a dancer for the next season. The directors then know how many contracts must be filled.

The best time to send your resume to an artistic is when he or she learns that a new dancer or dancers are needed.

Doing research like this means that you are not only prepared to write your best and most targeted resume, but you will also learn about the companies you are
interested in. You may discover that you are excited about a company, or you may find that it wouldn’t the right place for you. You can save a lot of time and energy by only auditioning for companies that would work out for you if you become a part of them.

Doing your research shows how much you care about the audition and that you are serious. Finding connections with directors and artistic directors is priceless.

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Leave Behind Stage Fright

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Stage fright is a strong nervousness some people experience before performing for an audience. Symptoms may include: trembling, a pounding heart, an elevated pulse, nausea, a flushed face, shortness of breath, dry mouth, and forgetfulness.

To overcome this nervousness: focus on the now what you are doing in the moment, getting ready, stretching, rehearsing movements, doing makeup. Immerse yourself in the steps instead of your fears.

Be Positive
Only positive self-talk, such as I will jump high, smile bright, and land my turns. Don’t let you mind wander to the “what if?” thoughts. Don’t let your thoughts take over and scare you into thinking about what MIGHT go wrong.

Practice relaxing breathing-when you are really nervous your breathing becomes irregular. One quick fix is to hold you breathe for 20 seconds, when you start breathing again your body forces you back into a normal breathing pattern. Another calming breathing method is to breathe in for a few seconds, hold the breath for a few seconds and breathe out slowly. Repeat this pattern for a few minutes to calm you down.

Breathe from your Abdomen
Shallow panicked breathing comes from your chest. Lowering your breathing to come from your abdomen will automatically calm your body down.

Be Prepared Not Scared
Some dancers like to review routines and skills before going on stage. For some this is calming, for others, dancing right before going on stage can psyc them out. When you are nervous dance skills such as turns don’t work as well as normal. For some trying out these moves before taking the sage can confirm fears andmake sage fright worse.

Note for Coaches:
I try not to let me team wait in the hall before going on the floor at a competition. I find that waiting builds nervousness in the whole team and affects their performance. I don’t let my dancers practice their turns before going in the floor. It makes them nervous when they don’t execute perfectly. Most of the nervousness will disappear when the team starts dancing and the skills will be stronger. Doing team building games, team chants, funny dances and singing songs can keep dancers busy and focused on the group and the moment rather than becoming nervous.

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How to Get a Headshot

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A professional headshot is essential to getting jobs as a dancer. Make sure to get one that looks natural and like YOU. Most people choose black and white, but some choose color. An 8 X 10 glossy is the standard size for prints.

1) Consult professional dancers, models or dance agencies in your area and find out which photographers they recommend. Do your research, look around.

2) Call several different photographers, and ask them these questions: What is the price for getting headshots done? Does that price include hair and makeup? The average price of headshots is around $75 to $150. This can vary according to the area.

3) Look at portfolios: some photographers have examples of their work or full portfolios online. Otherwise set an appointment to visit the photographer and see their portfolio.

4) Talk with the photographer to see if you feel comfortable with them and like their style. Being relaxed and comfortable is important and will come across in your photos.

5) Make sure the photographer has pictures of people with similar characteristics as you: Do they work with dancers? People your age? Make sure that they have a money back guarantee if there is a problem with the shoot, such as lighting or development. They will not re-shoot if you simply don’t like the photos.

6) Check the photographer’s references.

7) Select a photographer and make an appointment. Allow around two hours if you will have hair and makeup done there. The shoot might only take a half an hour if you are getting your makeup done elsewhere. Make sure to arrive about 15 minutes early to the studio the day of your shoot.

8) Bring makeup and hair products for touchups and bring several changes of clothing. You might want to bring one top that is more professional and one that is casual. Ask the photographer for subjections. Avoid anything that is busy, such as patterns; try to choose something that is plain.

9) Never go to a shoot that is in a remote location on in an apartment alone. Be cautious and safe.

10) Have fun at the shoot! Be relaxed and confident. Don’t force your smile. You might want to try some smiling and some not smiling. Whatever you do, look engaged. You should print one non- smiling and one smiling headshot for different auditions. Think of the mood/tone of what you are auditioning for and choose which headshot accordingly.

11) The photographer will likely print proofs for you to choose from. Some photographer that use digital cameras can have this done right away. Some use a website that you view your photos on and make a selection.

12) You will want to have your resume printed on the back of your photos, or staple it on for auditions.

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