Dance In The US
Your Name/Title: Elizabeth Emery/Owner
Studio Name: Dancers Unite Fine Arts Academy LLC
Years in business: 2
Your studio’s philosophy: First and foremost, we want to make sure our dancers are learning the right way to do things. We want top quality instructors who teach our dancers correct terminology and body placement so that if they want to become professional dancers they have the proper tools to do so.
Secondly, we want it to be a postive environment. We want it to be a safe place to try things. We want to encourage our dancers to try difficult steps in an encouraging way. We are a family owned and operated studio, and we want all our customers to feel they are part of the Dancers Unite family.
Thirdly, we want them to have learned skills that would help our students in any aspect of life. For example, learning how to try new things if you fail, learning how to perform in front of large groups of people and learning how to accept criticism are all wonderful skills that can be used in any career choice.
Dance styles taught: Ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, hip hop, tumbling, pointe, contemporary, musical theater dance, bellydance, zumba
Approximate # of classes per week: 40
Approximate # of teachers: 7
Biggest struggle in getting off the ground and how you handled it: Getting the word out about our studio. A lot of people choose a dance studio based on what their friends & neighbors recommend, and as a new studio it’s going to take awhile for your studio with the best word of mouth. You just have to be patient, not give up and work hard at building good relationships with your customers.
Also, try to get your name out in the community by working with local schools. For instance, my dance studio teamed up with a well respected private school in the area to host a dance camp out of their facilties.
Best advice you can give someone who is opening (or thinking about opening) a dance studio: Save up as much money as possible before opening a studio. I opened a studio with my sister and we worked hard in high school to get full scholarships for college and then lived at home with our parents and shared a car. Opening up a dance studio takes a lot of capital and there are expenses that you probably wouldn’t even think about before opening a studio!
One mistake you think potential dance studio owners make: Bending over backwards too much! People don’t appreciate it, and often the ones you bend over backwards for still aren’t happy and leave your studio anyway. Make sure you don’t spend so much time trying to please the hard to please that you forget about your supportive base of customers!
Specific tip for having a smooth recital: We had a checklist of every possible thing we would need for our recital going into it, and that really helped make sure we didn’t forget anything.
Best marketing move you’ve ever made: Having a really great website that my sister runs herself so it is constantly updated. We also constantly work our social networking. We’ve found most of our customers have found us through the internet.
Most rewarding moment: Walking through the lobby during intermission of our recital and seeing all the pleased parents. It was so nice seeing so many proud, happy parents and knowing that I had helped make a wonderful, memorable afternoon for them.
BIO: Elizabeth Emery began dance at the age of three, and started teaching dance at the age of thirteen. She taught dance throughout middle school, high school and college. She danced competitively since age seven and her routines won numerous overall awards. A personal favorite dance performance of hers was Disney World, a favorite vacation spot of her family. In addition to teaching and dancing at her studio, she was a member of the Charlotte Catholic Dance Team for four years. She was the only freshman on a team that placed first runner up in a national competition..
She graduated Charlotte Catholic with honors, and her dance and academic achievements helped her receive the Thomas Cooper Scholarship to the University of South Carolina. She then graduated cum laude from the nationally ranked Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina with a bachelor of science in business administration. She double majored in business economics and marketing, and minored in sociology where she took such courses as Childhood Sociology.
Elizabeth’s combined loves of business, dance and working with children has made owning a studio a natural dream of hers. Elizabeth strives to provide children with self-esteem, but at the same time provide them with a good dance background. Elizabeth continues her dance education today, and has taken numerous classes up and down the east coast, most recently at Broadway Dance Center in New York City, the Boston Ballet School, the Dance Complex, and the Jeannette Neill Dance Studio in Boston. She has taught hip hop and jazz for the after-school program for the Mecklenburg Area Catholic Schools (St. Patrick Catholic School, St. Ann Catholic School, St. Gabriel Catholic School, St. Matthew Catholic School, and St. Mark Catholic School) and the Summer Dance Camp at Charlotte Latin School
This week on “Dance in the US” we have a school from Maine…
Location: 517 Forest Avenue, Portland, ME 04101
About: Founded in 1980 by Artistic Director Eugenia L. O’Brien, the Portland School of Ballet is associated with the Portland Ballet. Students from the school have been accepted by noted institutions such as American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet Academy, Pennsylvania Ballet and the Kirov Academy.
The class offerings include character dance, modern technique and creative movement, in addition to ballet. The school also has formed a partnership with Portland High School, creating C.O.R.P.S.; a performing arts high school program designed to support both the academic course work and the pre-professional dance training of the students involved.
This week our series on “Dance in the US” takes us to Louisianna…
Name: Shreveport Dance Academy
Location: 2537 East 70th Street, Shreveport, LA71105
About: This dance academy is also home to the Shreveport Metropolitan Ballet. The facility is 9,000 square feet, and there are five studios. Sprung floors and limited class sizes help insure that students will have a safe experience with plenty of personal attention.
The studio teaches classes for those ages 2 1/2 to adult, and there are also offerings besides ballet, including Pilates, tap, jazz and hip hop. For more information about the school, tuition and policies, visit their site on the web.0
This week, “Dance In The US” takes us to Kentucky…
Location: 736 National Ave., Lexington KY 40502
About: This ballet school offers a solid curriculum with some interesting classes. Besides the typical fare, such as creative movment and technique classes, you will also find things such as pas de deux classes, pre-pointe classes and even the opportunity to perfect things like turns through private lessons. There is even a salsa class offered.
The school’s approach to training is described as, “combining the strength of the Russian School of dance with the Cuban influence of fluid movement, rhythm, and passion”.
You can visit their website for details on things such as the dress code, class prices and registration.0
Today our series on “Dance In The US” takes a look at Kansas…
Location: This school has two locations
1. The Downtown Campus, 1616 Broadway Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64108
2. The Johnson County Campus, 5359 W. 94th Terr., Prairie Village, KS 66207
About: Students who attend the Kansas City Ballet School not only get top-notch training from experienced faculty–but they also receive some nice additional perks as well. Classes are taught with live piano accompaniment–something that I know from experience can give a dancer the opportunity to develop their musicality in depth.
In addition, the school provides a stepping stone for those who want to go on to a professional dance career–the Kansas City Youth Ballet. The dancers who perform with this company are between the ages of 13 and 18, and they study with the faculty of Kansas City Ballet, as well as the director of the Youth Ballet, Alecia Good.2
Our series on Dance in the US continues today with a closer look at a school that is actually located in Illinois, but perfect for those living in any of the “Quad Cities”, including those near Davenport, Iowa…
Location: 617 17th Street, Rock Island, IL 61201
About: Ballet Quad Cities School of Dance (or BQC School of Dance) offers classes ranging from creative movement to ballet, rhythm tap and Pilates conditioning. Students are evaluated for placement in the appropriate level and class sizes are kept small so that individual attention can be given to every person in the classroom.
Besides being given the opportunity to perform in the annual Nutcracker production, students are often able to dance for an audience at other community functions throughout the year.
For those interested in learning more about the school, BQC School of Dance has their handbook posted on the website with all the details, including dress code, class costs and more about the faculty at the school.
About: Newly updated dance studios (in 2006) are just one of the reasons this ballet school is a standout. Offering some truly inspiring views of downtown, the space is inviting and well appointed. (And parents will appreciate waiting areas that come complete with wireless internet.)
Victoria Lyras is the Artistic Director here, and she is one of many well-qualified faculty members. In addition, the school also hosts guest teachers that have included the likes of Violette Verdy and Scott Jovovich, among others. In short, the calibur of teachers here is top notch.
Programs range from master classes to a pre-professional program for students ages 8 and up. There is also an open division for teens and adults and a young children’s program for those from 4 to 8.