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Industry Insights – Building a Stronger Dance Ecosystem

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Dance studios aren’t alone in their efforts to come back stronger in 2021 and beyond—vendors in the industry are eager to serve and poised for success. Many events have reimagined their class delivery and schedules; software and tech companies have worked to streamline the user experience; curriculum creators have developed virtual and hybrid trainings; product and equipment manufacturers have doubled-down on personal connections; the list goes on and on!

The dance ecosystem is built upon relationships like these—between the studio and the supplier. The more these connections are strengthened, the more everyone’s potential grows. Here, industry vendors share their thoughts about how they’ve been adapting in 2021 and how they plan to continue partnering with studios as we emerge from the pandemic. Keep reading for insights into their products, services, and processes. Be encouraged—the dance world is ready for its comeback!

Rhythm Works Integrative Dance - Tricia Gomez, Global Director

Over the past year, we were able to grow our team and focus on serving our certified instructors in ways we were not able to prior to the pandemic. This growth also allowed us to work in partnership with Intellidance® to offer educational programs for teachers who are starting or expanding classes for kids as young as 3 months old.

We are also launching Teaching Artist Exchange! This will allow our teacher innovators to make residual income by introducing their classroom resources to a global market. I liken it to Etsy, but it’s focused on the resources we need to level up our teaching game. Independent teachers can open their own “store” on www.teachingartistexchange.com and add their products or resources. It’s a one-stop-shop for lesson plans, teaching tools, resources, tutorial videos, apparel, books, props, and so much more. Teachers supporting teachers—it’s win-win!

Dancer-Fitness.com - Katie Groven, Owner & Creator

I’m very excited about growing my online exercise database to include more cues for coaches and teachers, and more modifications so dance instructors can feel confident leading their dancers through a strength and conditioning routine.

Stagestep - Randy Swartz, President

We’ve added staff and software to aid order processing and developed new products. We’ve also been expanding our online and social media marketing.

Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart - Greg Christo, President

During the pandemic when business was almost non-existent, we continued to grow our inventory; we did not sit back and wait. We maximized our time by reorganizing. With new designs and updates of some classics, we have a stronger supply of backdrops for our customers. We are ready for when the curtains are raised again!

A Wish Come True - Renee Stojek, Marketing Director

A Wish Come True has proudly become the number-one source for USA-made dance costumes. As we continue to grow, our focus is on bringing more value to studio owners with lower prices, higher quality, and more interactive virtual shopping experiences.

Talent on Parade - Kimberly McCluer, Owner

Flexibility has been our focus; learning to create new competition models to fit the needs in many different states, cities, and venues. We have five show models ready to go!

American Dance Championships - Christy Carter, Co-owner

I think the best thing anyone can do to build stronger and better goes back to these lessons in business: 1) Treat others as you want to be treated; 2) Be honest and do right by people; 3) Look at every decision you make with integrity; and 4) Plan ahead, be organized, and have multiple plans of action. To make it through the tough times you have to start with a strong foundation and continue to embrace those principles every day. It will not only get you through the ups and downs, but it will set you up to be stronger going forward.

Classion Designs Corp - Tara Pickford, Founder and CEO

We have been using the lull in the growth of our company to reevaluate our best products, and we have successfully taken our costume catalog from a pdf to an online order form with filters and clickable ordering. This was a huge project that required some custom-built tools and plugins. We have also undergone a name change during the pandemic, which has been a big undertaking, including the rebranding of our packaging and updated website. We are now working on reaching our client base through newsletters and a stronger social media presence.

Penny Prima® - Joe Naftal, CEO

At Penny Prima®, we’re developing our programs to be ready for the pivots we’ve grown accustomed to over the last year. We’re ensuring our classroom resources give teachers tools they can use both and out of the classroom, and virtually. We’re also working to give studios opportunities to diversify their business by offering new products to their existing customer base to increase revenue and serve their dance families in new and exciting ways.

Tumbl Trak - Carrie Spender, Education Coordinator

Our team has spent time reflecting on the past challenging year. New ideas have surfaced for inspiring and supporting professionals in our industry. We’ve really missed face-to-face connections with our community via trade shows and events, so we’ve strategized a plan to increase our education outreach and accessibility. We started 2021 with a new website that offers a more comprehensive view of each product, including training tips and product videos to demonstrate safe and creative ways to use our products. Looking forward
to a productive and connected year!

Dance Coach - Jacqui Young, Owner

I am working on building my one-on-one coaching business that helps dancers excel in their college or professional careers. I am excited to grow this business both in-person and virtually.

Specialty Mail & Services Inc. - Tanya Kircher, President

This year we added another great product to our DirectMail2.0 program: Lead Match. This product allows us to track and record who visited your website, regardless of whether or not they took any action. We are able to match visitors with physical addresses and allow you to contact them through the mail!

Taking Shape - Tracey Wozny, Executive Director

During the pandemic we quickly saw the magnitude of how we could impact young leaders in the virtual space. This coming year our non-profit is focused on building two specific areas: 1) Upgrading our youth leadership program into a digital Thinkific platform, easy for our youth organizations to use and implement with their students; 2) the launch of a new, younger leadership curriculum in January 2022 for ages 3-7 called Karma Kids. I think if the pandemic taught us anything, it is the need for strong value-based leaders! It is our mission at Taking Shape to build this foundation in our youth.

Thelma’s Tap Notes - Thelma L. Goldberg, Director

I created a free online resource called Tap into History, with mini-lessons posted weekly.

Stage Write Software - Jeff Whiting, CEO

We were thrilled to offer our software free to all educators, schools, and students through the end of the last school year. We recognize the challenge that teachers and students have been facing and we wanted to offer a digital stage where they can meet virtually.

Industry Xperience - Steve Ewing, CEO

At Industry Xperience, we continued training the next generation of dancers in an in-studio convention setting without risking the spread of COVID. By implementing all CDC and local guidelines at our customized convention events, we held successful conventions within the pandemic. It has been a blessing to ignite, excite, and invigorate our dancers; even in masks and distanced. We know how important socialization and training are for young artists and it has been wonderful to see so many participating in these guidelines so that we can all dance “together.”

The Studio Director - Tori Butler, Account Executive

For 2021, we’re building up stronger by delivering innovative technology improvements to the platform. Our studio owners ask for what they need and, in turn, we enhance The Studio Director platform with features that help grow their businesses.

The Studio Director is excited to expand on our credit and debit card payment options with the upcoming release of ACH and eCheck payment acceptance. Flexible and convenient payment options help our studios secure reliable cash flow for one-time and recurring tuition.

We’re also eager to see how our virtual classroom feature continues to evolve. A majority of our clients were able to switch to virtual classes, and we saw many grow their business through hybrid options. We’re excited to see how this creative industry continues to adapt to in-class, virtual, and hybrid classes, as well as recitals.

The GuiDANCE Experience - Jen Ray, Artistic Director

We were grateful to host our live YPAD™ certified competition and convention events during the pandemic so studios could stay connected to these key dance experiences. Our webinars have offered professional and social-emotional learning for our Ambassadors, and we’re excited to welcome more Ambassadors and studios to the GDX community in the upcoming season!

National Dance Foundation - Cathy Graziano, Executive Director

We have created a Student Ambassador Program to benefit both the studio owner and students. There is a need for students to earn community service hours and we provide that opportunity virtually, doing what they love: dance. These activities also create awareness and educate about the importance of spreading kindness and inclusion, which is the goal of the National Dance Foundation.

DanceStudioOwner.com - Suzanne Blake Gerety, Director

To build up stronger this year, I have been focusing on helping dance studios maximize their local presence both in-person and online. The pandemic brought attention to how important it is to build up stronger by establishing your studio as a centerpiece in the community, to highlighting your faculty and their positive influence on your students, encouraging parents to shop local and buy their student’s dancewear from you, and growing enrollment by participating in community-based performing arts opportunities as they open back up. Online, be sure to maximize your Google My Business profile, which is free, by adding new photos of your studio and keeping up-to-date hours of operation. Maximize your listing through reviews from happy customers. When they know that your online reputation is as valuable as your word-of-mouth referrals, they usually are glad to help share the word about your studio.

Amplified Productions: Adrenaline & Revive Dance Conventions - Jeremy Keeton, Founder & President

Refocusing in the COVID era came with its own unexpected benefits. We took a hard look at our safety protocols, not only how they needed to be redesigned to prevent the spread of COVID, but about the safety and security of our dance space and how it is registered for our attending guests and traveling staff. Through that investigation, we linked up with Youth Protection Advocates in Dance® (YPAD™) and became the first fully YPAD™ certified convention. We also started an internal advisory board of team members who discuss and advise our leadership team on a variety of topics. And despite the challenges that came with navigating COVID, including relocating and rescheduling a great number of our events, we grew our attendance and our audience in various regions of the country.

This has been a time of deep reflection; it’s unlocked a new sense of identity for all of our team members. Finally, with a light at the end of the tunnel, I think our team has grown as communicators, as artists, and as educators. We hope that this past year is the only year of its kind, but through adaptation and teamwork we’ve discovered new opportunities to grow and the future looks brighter and better than ever before.

TutuTix - Adam Bathe, Sales Manager

TutuTix has always been focused on building up the dance community through constant advancements in ticketing technology designed specifically for the unique needs of studios. This year TutuTix is building up even stronger with new technology, services, and a commitment to education. We’re excited to provide more tools and features than ever, with even more blog articles and training sessions designed to dramatically increase your revenue and decrease your stress. This is the year of “no-drama” and we can’t wait to share it with you!

Dance the Magic! - Debi Barr, Founder & President

Dance the Magic’s goal is to collaborate with studios, bringing their artistic vision to life while featuring their talented dancers at spectacular venues. As we celebrate our 20th anniversary partnering with “the Disney company at its Florida and California parks and Broadway shows in New York City, we are excited to expand our destinations to include Universal Orlando and the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee.

Dance the Magic is always looking for new ways to evolve and provide support to studio directors. We are now offering co-branded marketing materials and customized event price sheets that enables studio directors to increase revenue by including studio costs in performer/guest event packages.

Pat Fields Productions - Pat Fields Kilgore, Founder

As part of the dance world, I quickly found I had to make adaptations in my dance education offerings. I write dance education songs for little ones filled with positive values that help lead children through the choreography. I also write and arrange instrumentals for class, choreography, and performance and have created study and learning aids for dance teachers and students. I used this downtime to improve my skills in recording, mixing, producing, and animating. I focused on what could be done and didn’t worry about what couldn’t. As always, I pray to God every day to help me be the person He designed me to be. I am enjoying this time of learning, building, and creating.

CMeShine - Laura Caulin, Founder

It has been all learning, growing, and adapting for CMeShine this year! We have really focused on com-pleting our beta testing so that we are ready to deliver the best product possible to the dance community. We are so excited to finally share our studio management app and private social network! We are rolling with the punches, putting one foot in front of the other, and leading with love and positivity.

Dance Equipment International - Joseph Reinke, General Manager

We are excited that dance studios and public schools are opening up again. We are trying to build up inventory levels to make sure that we can supply everyone when they are ready to order their supplies.

VAL Student Evaluations - Jennifer and Jason Tell, Co-owners

We are continuing to make improvements to our program to make it easier for teachers to evaluate their students. We have increased our availability for tech support and offer complimentary training sessions to get people started on using the app. We love talking to studio owners and teachers about how valuable feedback is for students and parents!

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