The success of Dancing With the Stars, the start of another season of So You Think You Can Dance continue to help the dance industry as a whole.  Watching Kristi Yamaguchi get 90 out of 90 won’t help, but Steve Gutenberg telling you its great fun certainly does.  The fact is many people still stay away from studios because they have not figured out that you do not have to be on stage to perform.  If Viagra ads have taught us nothing else, we should have learned that all of life is a performance, not just a rehearsal, but live and on our own stage of friends, family, clubs, parties, and all the rest.

That being said, people need to be reminded that the stars and athletes you see have already mastered a couple of things.  First, they know how to take direction.  In show business, no matter how accomplished, it is the Director’s vision that should be displayed and the most successful stars have learned how to memorize lines, placements, moves and directions so well in order to perform them as their own.  This experience has to be a tremendous advantage in learning choreography, no matter how foreign.  Second, the athletes that perform have also mastered skills most have not.  Not only the physical dexterity, strength, and agility expected of athletes, but they too have mastered team work, learned and executed specific and demanding plays and moves and are used to taking direction from coaches and trainers.  Both actors and athletes are used to uniforms or costumes, equipment, fields of play or performance, pain and the extra effort required to make it work.

Local studios all too often still try to provide lessons without providing the understanding to students that their progress won’t be the same as what people see on TV.  Not because of any failure of the teacher or fault of the student, but simply because the instructional and directional skills do not remain as developed after one leaves school.  Learning all too often after school is “on the job” and limited in scope to the job at hand.  The other part Joe Average tends to forget are the countless hours of practice and instruction received prior to the first airing of the season.  Time is counted by those watching as time on the screen or the few lessons shown on background, not the endless hours behind the scenes.  Think of shows like “24” where one hour on TV meant one hour in real time.

Studios need to be aware that few TV Shows last forever and in order for studios to truly capitalize on this fad, they need to work on the average consumer.  Is it fun enough to suffer the pain, or the progress fast enough to get past the awkward stage?  If so maybe you might last.  If not you better call me, or find out how, or your studio may fall just as fast as the real estate business after this fad fades away.  Now more than ever you should be developing a studio that will provide for the future not just live off the fame of others.

Michael Reichenbach


Dance Week

June 20, 2008

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