January 2015 | On My Mind

Words from the publisher

Happy New Year!

Heading into 2015, I’m consumed with the logistics and planning for the next DanceLife Teacher Conference, coming up in late July/early August. To judge by this year’s roster of faculty and speakers, the theme for the 2015 DLTC should be “over the top.” In the two years between these events I run into many impressive people whose knowledge and skills would be perfect for the conference, and this time I went a little overboard. While creating the conference’s schedule (a daunting month-long project), I realized that accommodating a faculty of 38 and more than 125 classes, seminars, and special events meant expanding to four ballrooms. “Over the top” we go!

Photo by Mim Adkins

Photo by Mim Adkins

For me, the heart and soul of the DLTC experience are its ability to help attendees get back to basics, and its emphasis on the mindset that dance is for every body. This year I’m thrilled to include a workshop focused on the principles of teaching children who have special needs; we are also escalating the preschool and children’s curriculums. Another cool option this year is a session on syllabus concepts for the adult dancer.

As always, my objective for the DLTC is to offer teacher training, a practical business curriculum, and a renewed appreciation for dance education. For teachers who are ready to immerse themselves in training with some of the brightest masters in the field, we’ll have a program of dance study that spans beginner through advanced classroom material for ballet, contemporary, hip-hop, commercial jazz, and musical theater, among other genres. This year I’m eager to present a new group of school-owner speakers, each one with a unique and proven track record of success. They’ll cover a spectrum of business topics, including generating more income, balancing a full-time business with family commitments, and ways to move beyond “status quo” to “standout.”

I look forward to seeing many of you in Scottsdale this summer. In the meantime, I wish you a healthy and prosperous 2015.

DSL publisher Rhee Gold has owned a dance competition, presided over national dance teaching organizations, and founded Project Motivate. His book, The Complete Guide to Teaching Dance, is in its second printing.

February 2013 | On My Mind

Words from the publisher

We are in conference mode here at the Rhee Gold Company and Dance Studio Life. What started as Project Motivate with 20 attendees in 1998 has morphed into the DanceLife Teacher Conference, which attracts more than 700 teachers, school owners, and studio managers from across the United States and Canada, and from as far away as Italy and Australia.

As we celebrate our 15th anniversary as conference producers, we’ll offer more than ever—well over 100 classes and seminars in the first four days of August, presented at the five-diamond Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. The diverse faculty includes some of the brightest minds in the field, coming from backgrounds in hip-hop, classical ballet, tap, contemporary, jazz, preschool education, and more.

It’s important, I believe, to get back to basics with dance classes. Although there are numerous conventions that offer advanced master classes, few provide the chance to learn new concepts for preschool, beginner, and intermediate students. Yet these classes are exactly what every school owner or teacher needs to do well, in order to maintain their school’s financial health.

A full track of business sessions for studio owners includes concepts and techniques for marketing, office organization, summer programs, websites and social media, building new profit centers, plus more. In addition, there will be special sessions for studio managers and closed “studio owner only” events.

Since communication is key in dance education, many schools have brought their entire faculty and staff to our last few conferences to ensure that everyone is learning and sharing with a singular mind-set. Often, while the teachers take classes, the studio managers and school owners attend the business seminars. Together they build camaraderie and bring a bounty of new ideas back to their home studios.

As the conference director, I have a goal of bringing the dance community together to share a love for the art of dance, while simultaneously providing opportunities to learn and grow as professionals—and thus improve as teachers and as business owners. I look at the conference as a way for attendees to rejuvenate their dance spirit, build confidence, and learn new teaching skills that will not only improve students technically but also inspire them to develop a lifelong passion for dance.

As I look back to the beginning of my journey as a conference producer, I remember the skeptics who told me that dance teachers and school owners were too competitive to want to share their knowledge. My instincts told me that wasn’t true. As the DanceLife Teacher Conference has proved over and over again, dance educators embrace the chance to communicate and to celebrate their common bond.

October 2012 | 2-Way Street for Studio Owners

A conference connection turns to mentorship, and more

By Misty Lown

One of the benefits of attending conferences is the opportunity to network—to make new professional contacts, share ideas, and develop new friendships. That’s what happened to me at the 2011 DanceLife Teacher Conference. It was my first time presenting a seminar at a major conference, and it was also when I met Melanie Gibbs, owner of Boca Dance Studio in Boca Raton, Florida. She and I have since formed a great mentoring relationship, and best of all, a friendship.

During my seminar I talked about employee benefits at my studio, Misty’s Dance Unlimited (MDU). As I outlined our policies on education allotments, maternity leave, and retirement contributions, a woman in the front row shouted, “Can I come work for you?” After a big laugh from the audience, I replied, “Sure! Let’s talk.”

The woman was Jo-D Meacham, co-owner of Boca Dance Studio and Melanie Gibbs’ business and life partner. She said Melanie was “the most amazing teacher and dancer” she knew, but that they were struggling with the business side of the studio. Jo-D told me she had taken the last year off from the studio to care for their young son, who was facing health challenges, and the task of keeping the studio going had fallen to an overwhelmed Melanie. Jo-D asked if I would be willing to meet with Melanie and offer her some perspective on how to move the business forward. I told her I would be happy to try to help.

Visiting Florida

Melanie and I began exchanging emails and looking for an opportunity to meet. The chance came five months later when I worked two side trips to Boca Raton into a family vacation to Florida. On my first visit, I met Melanie at Legacy Dance Championships and chatted with her about her studio while we watched her students compete. On my second visit, I went to Boca Dance Studio for a quick tour that turned into an all-day event. Melanie outlined her specific challenges regarding space, programming, and need for more staff. Her biggest question was “Can I make this all work?” I assured her she could.

The whole concept of creating an experience, rather than just teaching classes, was something I understood deep down, but I didn’t know how to put it into action. —Melanie Gibbs

Charged up by the interaction, we started looking for a time for Melanie to come to Wisconsin. She wanted to see our studio layout, front desk operations, and programs in action. We settled on my recital weekend as the kickoff for a three-day mentoring marathon. In addition to taking in our recital, Melanie toured my studio, checked out the curriculums and management tools, and met the teachers. She even made time to be a guest judge for Disco Frogs, one of my school’s newest performance companies. In the meantime, I reviewed Boca Dance Studio’s operating budget and hiring needs.

Six weeks later Melanie was back in Wisconsin for a 48-hour blitz of ideas, questions, and mutual encouragement. She had gone to Chicago to visit students of hers who were participating in the summer program at the Joffrey Academy of Dance. Although my school was a bit out of the way, as Melanie said, “When you fly all the way across the country to visit students, what’s another four hours in the car?”

Along with a LEGO set for my son Sam, who was having a birthday, Melanie brought a list of all the things she had accomplished since our last visit. She had taken at least one action step on each of the goals we had discussed, including setting up new books for accounting and hiring two new positions, an office manager and an event coordinator. When she went back to Florida, she had another to-do list in hand. I wasn’t surprised to receive a text the next day saying she had crossed two things off the list.

One was submitting a free half-page ad to the Boca Tribune, a business that had recently become a neighboring tenant; the other was initiating a goody-bag giveaway (of treats and promotions from nearby businesses) for registration day. More important than just a to-do list, however, Melanie went home with priorities to move her business forward.

Our next meeting is planned for Thanksgiving weekend, when she will be a guest judge at our seventh annual “Dancing With the La Crosse Stars” charity event. I am eager to see her next progress report.

A mentoring relationship involves give-and-take, so my perspective isn’t the only one. Here’s Melanie’s side of the experience.

What were you hoping to get out of the conference?

MG: I was attending strictly for the business sessions. I have attended hundreds of conventions and was not interested in taking more dance classes at that point, but I knew I was lacking in business training.

What inspired you about the business sessions?

MG: Your real-life solid examples, 10 strategies, and all your numbers. So many numbers! You made “scary business training” seem accessible. What a huge relief it was to hear that you were not coming from a business background! A big fear of mine was that I would never learn how to run my studio without committing a huge amount of time and money to returning to school, and you proved that wrong.

What motivated you to seek out mentorship?

MG: [Jo-D and I] felt like we had hit upon someone who could help us immediately—not giving us great ideas that we could possibly use down the line, but someone whose model would work for us now. I was in a very receptive mind-set and you were offering so much; there is no way we would have walked away without following through on that.

What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve gotten through mentorship?

MG: That I am selling a message, not a service. The whole concept of creating an experience, rather than just teaching classes, was something I understood deep down, but I didn’t know how to put it into action.

What is the best part about having a mentor in the studio business?

MG: Just feeling like there’s a safety net under me. It can be wonderful to “go where no man has gone before” sometimes, but it’s a lot easier to have a model to follow. I constantly ask myself, “What would Misty do?”

What have you enjoyed about our cross-studio visits?

MG: Other than the brats and cheese curds? I’ve loved seeing another studio in another region, as well as showing you around our region a little bit. It reminds me that I don’t want Boca Dance Studio to be MDU 2, but I do want it to be the best it can be.

Have there been any surprises along the way?

MG: Without a doubt, the connections I’ve made through you: a new relationship with Jenny Hiltbrand, the owner of Kehl School of Dance in Madison; your photographer, Theresa Smerud; your ballet master, Kennet Oberly, who might do a workshop for us; your mother-in-law, Karen, who lets me stay at her house; and your mom, five amazing kids, and husband. When we first approached you in Arizona I never dreamed we’d be making a friend, as well as other friends along the way.

What are you most looking forward to for your school?

MG: Expanding the focus as my studio grows and becomes more financially self-sustaining—branching out into more community work and national exposure. Expanding my own role as a secondary mentor and being able to pass down what I’ve learned to people who are in the place I was in the summer of 2011.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to connect with another studio owner?

MG: Just do it! Quit thinking of all the reasons why it’s a bad idea—you’re not ready, it’s out of your reach, it won’t work out, you have nothing to offer or they have nothing to offer. There is no such thing as a bad connection.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

MG: My path has turned sharply in a new direction since that conference. That’s the beauty—and terror—of information: once you know something, you can’t “un-know” it. There was no way I was leaving the DanceLife Teacher Conference and going back to the same-old same-old. The proverbial fire had been lit under me, but it would have been easy to go home pumped up about the studio and then get distracted, lose the notes, or just start painting the walls and making new name labels for the lockers. You kept me on track. You told me what to do and how to do it.

I have since made the hard decision many times and forced myself to focus on promotion and programs instead of buying paper towels or organizing the office supplies. I have done so many scary things since our visit in May. I’m an owner now, not just a teacher, and there is a vast difference in decisions made, word choices, and actions taken when you are the owner and not just one of the girls. I think a lot of studio owners aren’t ready to be that person yet, or just don’t know how, but with someone’s help they’ll learn. I sure did!

What goes around, comes around

Melanie isn’t the only one who has benefited from our relationship. She has inspired me with her motivation to improve her business, her heart for kids, and her desire to create opportunities for young women to experience success. She is always looking ahead and not behind.

She shared a quote with me that I now keep by my computer: “Forget failures. Forget past mistakes. Forget everything except what you’re going to do now, and do it.” I couldn’t agree more.

May-June 2012 | Thinking Out Loud | Why I Walked

By Shalyn Barker

Last year I was awarded a scholarship sponsored by Backdrops Fantastic to the DanceLife Teacher Conference, and I wanted to pass on my good fortune by doing something to help others. That’s when I got involved in Relay for Life.

This nationwide fund-raiser for the American Cancer Society has the theme “Cancer Never Sleeps.” Teammates take turns walking a track (normally at a local high school) for a total of 18 hours.

For many years I had thought about joining Relay for Life, but it was always held on the weekend of our studio’s dress rehearsal. To my surprise, last year’s date had been moved, so I signed up a team and began raising money at the studio.

The first team fund-raiser was “Let Your Hair Down for Cancer.” For one week, students could pay $3 on the day of their classes and wear what they wanted without putting their hair in a bun. On short notice, my little rule-breakers raised $400.

I then offered various rewards to students who participated in individual fund-raising efforts. To start, students needed to pay $10 to be on the team. Those who raised $75 could have a free quarter-page advertisement in the recital program book. At $100, they also received a Relay for Life T-shirt. At $250, they received a short video about themselves that was played at the recital during intermissions. I made the videos myself using iMovie.

The only illumination came from small white bags placed around the track, each containing a votive candle and bearing the name of someone who had fought cancer.

Students began sending emails to family and friends asking for support. In one month my team raised more than $2,500.

The night of our relay couldn’t have been more magical. Thirty-five parents and students ages 5 to 18 set up our campsite. Relay for Life is a public event very much like a carnival with a cause, so all types of people attend to eat, play games, and purchase items, with everything raising money for the American Cancer Society.

During the event other teams sold food and drinks or orchestrated carnival games, but our team’s fund-raiser was a photo booth that made good use of costumes and props from the studio. Our students who participated visited other booths to get their faces painted or purchase playing time on video gaming devices. Many brought tents and sleeping bags to spend the night.

All the while, each team had at least one person walking the track, carrying a relay stick that gets passed from one walker to the next, just like in a relay race. We made ours out of an old pointe shoe that we decorated and painted purple.

One of my favorite moments was the luminaria ceremony. With all the lights shut off, the only illumination came from small white bags placed around the track, each containing a votive candle and bearing the name of someone who had fought cancer.

By morning we were tired but proud. Joining in Relay for Life was food for our souls and changed us all forever. We still talk about the event with fond memories—of hearing the stories of families who have fought cancer, seeing the survivors walk all night around the track, and working together in teams for this important cause.

At the final ceremony we won the “Rookie of the Year” Team Award and our fund-raising efforts came in third place overall. We also came in second for the Spirit Award, which is based on the amount of spirit points each team earns for participating in team games and contests held before and during the event.

Three months later, I attended the DanceLife Teacher Conference in Arizona, the inspiration for my participation, and heard the story of Rhee Gold’s mother, Sherry, and how she lost her battle with cancer.

It was then that I truly knew why I had “relayed” and who it was for.

This year, rather than being named after our studio, our Relay for Life team will be called “Dancers 4 Cancer.” As I write this, with our local relay one month away, we have raised more than $4,000.

This year we will sell boiled peanuts and lanyards. Our purple pointe shoe will again circle the track. And candles will burn bright for all the loved ones who have fought the battle against cancer.

December 2011 | Jivin’ With Joe

Tremaine tells all on jazz, teaching, and his own high-stepping life

By Karen White

Joe Tremaine is the quintessential jazz dance pro. Growing up in the New Orleans area, immersed in what he calls “the best music on Earth,” Tremaine danced his way to New York City and Europe, cruised through TV jobs and Vegas shows, and eventually landed in Los Angeles, where he ran a “studio for the stars” for almost 30 years. He combined that teaching experience with his insider’s knowledge of show biz to create his Tremaine Dance Conventions and Competitions, now heading into its fourth decade. Through it all, Tremaine has been an ambassador for his own brand of heart-pumping, high-kicking, funky-and-fun style of jazz dance that still thrills his students and fans today. We caught up with him this fall, fresh off his appearance at the DanceLife Teacher Conference.

At the DLTC, the teachers couldn’t get enough of your jazz classes. What’s your secret?

His teaching “secret,” Tremaine says, is to use great music to get a class excited and involved. (Photo courtesy Joe Tremaine)

I want everybody to have a great time, and I think number one is the music. Music is what jazz is all about. It’s the vernacular form of dance based on American popular music. My first trick is to have them dance to the hottest music possible. Get the class engaged in a few steps, then put the music on. The pacing of the class is extremely important, especially if you’re teaching younger kids. When I teach 6-, 7-, 8-year-olds, I’ll teach them an 8 or two 8s, and I’ll go, “Do you want to do it with music?” “Yes, yes, yes,” they’re screaming right away. As you progress from there, you can correct the technique and so forth.

How long have you been teaching?
I started teaching a little bit in high school. I didn’t want to, but I lived in the cotton fields of Louisiana. In that area I knew more about dance than most people, which is not saying a lot! People had to drive 35 miles to get to a dance studio, so they said, “You can teach us.”

Did you always gravitate toward jazz?
Jazz was always my favorite. I tapped at first, then modern jazz, as they called it, was beginning to evolve and I said, “Oh yeah, that’s what I want.” When I was 8 or 9, I was dancing to music on the radio in my dad’s grocery store, and I remember one of the workers said, “Man, you’re good! When you grow up, you’re gonna be an exotic dancer!” He didn’t know what an exotic dancer was, and neither did I. I felt it was a great compliment at the time.

 But I had that influence, considered back then the street influence. It wasn’t hip-hop obviously, but it was called freestyling. I got many jobs because I could tap dance, I could do ballet, and I could out-freestyle anybody. I’d go into nightclubs and clear the floor dancing if I wanted to. But again, it’s all about the music.

You worked in the early days of TV, on The Jackie Gleason Show, The Jerry Lewis Show.
I moved from the cotton fields into New Orleans and worked in the French Quarter in legit shows, then moved to New York on a one-way bus ticket and lived at the Y. I started getting jobs. June Taylor hired me for a show called Mardi Gras starring Louis Armstrong and Joel Grey, and we played at Jones Beach in New York. After eight weeks June took me and three other guys to Miami to do The Jackie Gleason Show.

Most TV shows in those days were done live. How did that help you grow as a dancer?
It’s either do it or die. Today they call a season 12 shows—we did a 32-week season, and I did two years of live TV with many, many stars. It was the best training ground ever. There were no second takes—you really had to know what you were doing.

And I never stopped taking class, ever. We finished a show or walked out after rehearsal, where would we go? We would go to class. It was the best thing I ever did. You can never stop working on your instrument, on your body.

How did that all lead to teaching?
I was very lucky because I met so many stars on The Jerry Lewis Show—Jane Powell to Bobby Darin to everyone imaginable, and they would be like, “You’re really good—would you work for me?” That’s when I started choreographing. Eugene Loring had a school in Hollywood [Loring was director of the American School of Dance] and he said, “I want you to teach for me.” I opened my own dance center in 1971.

What was your studio like?
It was almost all adults. When I first opened I don’t think I let in anyone under 14, and then eventually dropped it to 12. But they were stars. Choreographers would take my class. Even Cyd Charisse took my class.

That was before people were going to gyms to get physically fit, so everybody would come to dance class. I’m not being egotistical, but my beginner and intro jazz classes would be huge—50, 60, 70, 100 people in a room that should only have 35 or 40. So I’d teach class harder and weed out the people who couldn’t keep up. Every secretary, every waiter, everybody out here wanted to be actors. That’s how my studio mushroomed—because they came to class.

How did you develop your style of jazz?
Every night I would go out dancing in the discos—not just to dance for my pleasure, but to hear the music, see all the street stuff. I’d say, “Boy—that could make a great step.” I would make it mine. I’d put it in a jazz form, and that’s how I developed my style.

What was best about running your own dance studio?
The freedom to do what I wanted to do, and do it the way I wanted to do it. I’m kind of strong-headed in the things I believe in. I like to teach fast and challenge people.

And worst?
I don’t know that there was a worst part. I feel selfish sometimes that I am able to do what I want to do, having the time of my life and meeting incredible people. I really don’t know how to do anything else, and I don’t care how to do anything else. I just want to dance. I always wanted to dance.

“When I was 8 or 9, I was dancing to music on the radio in my dad’s grocery store, and I remember one of the workers said, ‘Man, you’re good! When you grow up, you’re gonna be an exotic dancer!’ He didn’t know what an exotic dancer was, and neither did I.”

How do you see jazz dance changing?
Jazz encompasses so much, from lyrical to boogie-woogie to basic jazz to Broadway-style jazz. The most popular form now is probably contemporary. Everyone wants to do contemporary, even the 6-year-olds. My one concern is they don’t know why they’re doing it. I don’t think kids who lack emotional maturity should be doing it in competition. But in studios across the country they’re all trying to emulate the TV dance shows to some degree.

Teachers say they’re confused about what jazz is and that at competitions, different styles end up in the same category.
Jazz is open-ended. If you’ve got five people, you’ve got five opinions. There’s basic old regular jazz, funky jazz, then all the others. Obviously there is a Broadway-style jazz, but what is the fine line between that and musical theater? It depends on the competition and the way the judges define those genres. I think teachers have to define for themselves what it is and enter their numbers accordingly.

So jazz is connected to popular music, and since the music has changed, the movement has changed.
Jazz has no boundaries. Everybody is still going to dance to “Hit the Road, Jack,” or “R-E-S-P-E-C-T,” and that’s the old kind of jazz stuff. The great thing about jazz is that it’s an amalgamation. It’s a big stew. You throw in anything and stir it up with some good music and that’s jazz.

Is hip-hop jazz?
I said that jazz dance is an American form of dance which comes from the vernacular. It’s the same with hip-hop. It’s picking up on the trends in the music, and that’s street stuff and the kind of jazz I’ve always tried to incorporate. So I guess yes, hip-hop is a derivative of jazz.

Where is jazz going?
I think it’s going to continue just as it is with all kind of variations on the theme. The direction of popular music is what drives it. That’s what has driven it all along, all the way back to the cakewalk and the black bottom to jitterbug and boogie-woogie swing, Caribbean influences, everything. It’s so wonderful and it’s all interconnected.

What was your reaction to receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award at the DanceLife Teacher Conference?
I almost fainted dead away. I had no idea I was getting an award. I was sitting there, enjoying everybody else’s performances, then suddenly it’s all about me, which was just astonishing. I was almost speechless, which I’m usually not. It was great to be honored in such a way by your peers. It can’t get any better than that.

Do you have any advice for studio teachers?
Keep training the kids to the best of your ability and know that we all get frustrated. Teachers say, “I haven’t taught in four years and I want to start again,” and my first reaction is that they should have never stopped. You can slow down; you can change your pace. You don’t have to teach four million classes a week. Teachers have to remember we’re training bodies, minds, and souls, not just bodies to do hop shuffle ball change or boogie-woogie. I always say dance training is life training. I would tell them not to stop—don’t give up.

Any last thoughts?
Anybody who moves to music or without music, if they consider it dancing, I think it’s fabulous. Everybody should be moving all the time. Get out of the damn chair and lift your legs and roll your head and snap your fingers and sway to the music. It’s so important to our lives.

Dance Teachers: Who We Are

Help us spread the inspiration. Feel free to post on your
Facebook or Twitter page. THANKS!
Check out info on the 2011 DanceLife Teacher Conference

DanceLife Teacher Conference 2011
Rhee Gold Dance Teachers: Who We Are

Rhee’s Quick Thoughts | Gifts

There is a passion that is deep in the soul of all dance people . . . it is a feeling that can’t be explained to those who do not dance. That is our gift and it is what we pass on to the next generation. How cool is that!!! Have a great day—Rhee

Rhee’s Blog | Conference Updates

DLTC Gala LuncheonLots of new info on the 2011 DanceLife Teacher Conference, including faculty booked to date and and curriculum planned to date. Looking forward to seeing many of you in Scottsdale July 30-August 2 2011!

Check it out . . . http://dancestudiolife.com/dltc/faculty-curriculum/

No Gossip, Better World

We all share our passion in different ways; that’s what makes the dance community so cool. To judge or to gossip about other dance people is unbecoming of those who claim to know the passion. Life is short; no time for gossip . . . spend that time focused in on what you want to accomplish in your own life and the dance world is a better place. Guaranteed! Have a great day–Rhee

Attendee Details 2010 Project Motivate

Project Motivate 2010
Dear Project Motivate Attendees,
We are fast approaching Project Motivate, the Studio Edition and we’re so excited that you will be joining us! Attendees are coming from across the US and Canada from the following states and provinces, Alberta, Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ontario, Pennsylvania, Quebec, Rhode Island, Virginia, Wisconsin and West Virginia.
We are ready to present an experience that will rejuvenate your dance spirit!
Project Motivate, the Studio Edition Schedule (Subject to change)
July 23 (Fri)  
12:00 Registration | Coffee and Snacks
1:00-5:00 Business and/or Motivational Seminars
5:00-6:30 Dinner Break (on own)
6:30-8:00 Building a Strong Dance: Technique 101 with Kathy Kozul

July 24 (Sat)  
8:30-10:00 Coffee Talk—Intimate Q&A with Rennie and Rhee about anything. Continental Breakfast will be served
10:00-12:30 The Classroom Live!
12:30-1:30 Lunch Break (Complimentary)
1:30-3:30 Choreography Live!
3:30-6:00 Business and/or Motivational Seminars
6:00-7:30 Break
7:30 Buffet Dinner and Intimate Performance

July 25 (Sun)
8:00-9:00 Continental Breakfast
9:00-1:00 Business and/or Motivational Seminars
On-Site Registration
Project Motivate registration will begin at 12:00 Noon on July 23. Updated schedules, printed materials, conference badges, and more will be distributed at registration. The Gold School, 1154 North Montello Street, Brockton, MA
Complimentary Continental Breakfast
July 24 8:30,
and July 25, 8:00
Complimentary Lunch
July 24, 12:30-1:30
Complimentary Buffet Dinner and Performance
July 24, 7:30 Dinner and drinks will be served, followed by an casual performance by dancers from the Gold School.

Project Motivate 2010
Common Questions
What should I bring?
This entire event is casual, comfortable clothing will work for all 3 days and all events. Feel free to bring a notebook, laptop, audio or video recorders. Note: be sure to have battery power for your equipment (limited electrical outlets).

What else can I bring?
Often school owners bring their literature to share and exchange with other attendees. Feel free to bring copies of your brochures, newsletters, recital or concert programs, postcards, business cards . . . just about anything that you care to share is cool.

Tell me more about the “Classroom and Choreography Live” sessions
This concept will offer attendees the opportunity to view Rennie Gold in action with his students.  Two classroom demonstrations with different age groups (approximately 9-12 and 13-plus). His focus will be on building a dancer from the bottom up, both technically and emotionally. He’ll offer techniques for motivating students to be the best that they can be, while emphasizing that they can’t be satisfied with what they accomplished yesterday.
Rennie will also share various warm-ups, progressions, combinations, and more. He will create a piece of choreography for a group of young dancers, demonstrating how to involve students in the creative process and how to generate a teamwork attitude. He’ll share secrets related to utilizing formations and patterns and eliminating the tricks! All presentations will include a Q&A session.

What is the address and phone # for the Gold School?
Address: 1154 North Montello Street, Brockton, MA (Avon/Brockton line) Phone: 508-584-5499.

Who should we contact with questions?
Jackie Kitsis | 888.i.dance.9 | 508.285.6650 | Jackie@rheegold.com
We will keep you updated as we move closer to the event. Looking forward to welcoming you to the Gold School! Have a great day–Rhee Gold

2010 Project Motivate Seminars

Rhee Gold Project Motivate
Summer and Early Fall Schedule
Rhee Gold will present Project Motivate in the following cities
Note: Please utilize contact information listed below to learn more about the event.
Seminars range from 1hr. to a full-day.

July 23-25
Project Motivate-The Home Edition
The Gold School, Brockton, MA

August 1
American Academy of Ballet 2010 Teachers Intensive
Purchase College SUNY, Purchase, NY
Contact: Mignon Furman | 212.787.9500 | mignonfurman@aol.com

August 19
New Orleans Marriott, New Orleans, LA
Closed event

August 29
Dansco/Fina Costumes
Attleboro, MA
Contact: Liz Masterson | 800.326.7365 | liz@dansco.com

September 11 & 12
Weissman’s Designs for Dance
St. Louis, MO
Contact: Kristen Hart | 314.773.9000 x1382 | kristen.hart@weissman.net

September 18
Dance Masters of Michigan
Ginny’s Danceworks, Brighton, MI
Contact: Ginny Durow | 810.229.2743 | ginnydurow@mac.com or
Suzanne Kirsch | 313.563.3291 | seasideballerina@wowway.biz

September 25
Dance Masters of New England
Mendon, MA
Susan Montrond Larson | 508.880.5079  | secretary@dmachapter5.com

October 9
UDMA Costume Preview Show
Meadowlands Exposition Center
Secaucus, NJ
Contact: UDMA | 800.304.8362 | office@udma.org

October 16
UDMA Costume Preview Show
Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel
Schaumburg, IL
Contact: UDMA | 800.304.8362 | office@udma.org

Announcing . . . Project Motivate w/ Rennie & Rhee Gold

 NEW! Studio Edition at The Gold School, Brockton, MA | July 23-25

 An intimate business and motivational seminar for dance school owners/teachers
Limited to 50 attendees (minimum age 18)

For the first time, Rennie and Rhee Gold join forces to bring the dance education field a unique inspirational experience. Rhee’s business and motivational seminars along with Rennie’s classroom and choreography concepts will bring attendees a continuing education experience like no other. Their passion for the art of dance and education is evident in all that they do.

Having grown up in a studio under the direction of their mom, Sherry Gold, and served as leaders in the dance community, Rennie and Rhee offer attendees unique perspectives about the business, the classroom, and the life!

Whether you want to generate more income, learn new strategies for 21st-century marketing, become better organized, learn new teaching and choreography concepts, or simply get the inspiration you need, this seminar will change the way you look at your business and the life of a dance teacher . . . guaranteed!

Who should attend?

Curriculum for this Project Motivate seminar will be very much focused on the school owner who is also working within the classroom. It is not a seminar for assistant teachers or teachers who want to take many classes. The curriculum for the classroom is presented as demonstrations. Note: Please no late arrival or early departure. 

Project Motivate Curriculum

The Business

OBJECTIVES: Improve your enrollment and help you to generate more income and become a smarter business person.

Innovative 21st-century marketing concepts include social networking, websites, e-zines, and a ton of sample print materials that will improve your studio’s image and your income.

You’ll discover new ways to improve student retention and organize your business, as well as the tools to analyze where YOU are really making a profit (and where you may not be).

Sample employee policies and contracts will be presented and discussed, along with tips to determine who on your staff is an employee and who is a subcontractor.

If it has to do with the business of owning a school, it will be touched on at this seminar.

Classroom & Choreography Live!

NEW! This concept will offer attendees the opportunity to view Rennie Gold in action with his students.

Two classroom demonstrations with different age groups (approximately 9-12 and 13-plus). His focus will be on building a dancer from the bottom up, both technically and emotionally. He’ll offer techniques for motivating students to be the best that they can be, while emphasizing that they can’t be satisfied with what they accomplished yesterday. Rennie will also share various warm-ups, progressions, combinations, and more.

Rennie will create a piece of choreography for a group of young dancers, demonstrating how to involve students in the creative process and how to generate a teamwork attitude. He’ll share secrets related to utilizing formations and patterns and eliminating the tricks!

All presentations will include a Q&A session.

Rhee Gold’s Motivational Seminars

Rhee Gold’s frank, revealing, and often humorous presentations have been inspiring dance educators worldwide for more than a decade. His presentations are designed to inspire you to become the best teacher, business person, and mentor you can be. Gold’s experience as the son of a school owner, student, teacher, choreographer, master teacher, industry leader, author, publisher, and the dance field’s first motivational speaker will leave you with a renewed sense of passion and confidence.

Area Hotels

Courtyard by Marriott, Stoughton, MA: 781.297.7000
Residence Inn by Marriott, Brockton, MA: 508.583.3600
Radisson-Brockton, Brockton, MA: 508.588.6300


Boston’s Logan International
T.F. Green Airport, Providence

Seminar Fee: $349.00

Includes: All three days, the Project Motivate manual, marketing samples, continental breakfast, lunch, and so much more! Note: The seminar is limited to the first 50 applicants on a first-come, first-served basis. We expect that it will sell out.


888.i.dance.9 (local: 508.285.6650), 9 to 5 EST weekdays.
Register today, space is limited!

Living the High Life

A note of apology and thanks to my cabana boy at the DanceLife Teacher Conference

By Diane Gudat

Last August I attended the DanceLife Teacher Conference at the five-star Phoenician resort in Scottsdale, AZ. For myself, and I am guessing for most of the hundreds of dance teachers there, this was my first experience with a life of complete luxury and bliss.

The culture shock began immediately. As I opened the door to my fabulous room, I broke into uncontrollable laughter. I have friends who live in apartments that are smaller than my enormous marble and glass powder room. I was at a total loss at how to behave and so I probably owe most of the staff, and especially my cabana boy, a few explanations.

First, I would like to sincerely thank you for selecting my deluxe, padded lounge chair, complete with umbrella, and for placing an oversized striped towel atop it to make the perfect private island on which I could perch and relax. The fresh pitcher of ice water was also very sweet. I saw you repeat this ritual over and over as dance teacher after dance teacher arrived at poolside.

I am saddened to admit that dance teachers really do not know how to relax; we have completely lost the ability. I noticed that the non-dance partners in attendance seemed to take to it like ducks to water, but we teachers simply gathered in small groups in the pool, bobbed up and down, and discussed our fall schedules. As our congregations grew in number and the late afternoon sun caused us to squint, you moved the umbrellas closer to the pool edge to shade our floating workshops. Thanks to your gentle encouragement, our attitudes did improve and we started to ease up as the weekend progressed.

By the way, I must apologize for the number of times you had to relate where you purchased your “darling” tropical shirt. You see, some of us are planning a “Trip to the Tropics” recital and need to get a jump on costuming.

Also, if we seemed a little desperate for cocktails, it’s because we do have a flair for drama. You did your level best to keep up and we are forever grateful. Your complete willingness to set my lunch next to my cocktail on the edge of the pool really touched me—I have many times dreamed of such a luxury, but it completely surpassed my imagination. I am now trying to train my husband to bring my bagel to the bathtub.

You must also realize that most of us have body-image problems. Eating french fries in our swimsuits with our torsos safely hidden below four feet of water was a dream come true.

Thank you for your kind and constant warnings about dancing on the wet pool deck. You see, for four full days we had to choose between three simultaneous classes, and most of us wanted to share what had gone on in the classes we had not been able to attend.

Please do me the favor of extending our apologies to the rest of the hotel staff.

The bell captains politely tried to assist with our luggage, but we are so used to hitting the door with our fannies to walk right through while carrying dance bags, purses, and oversized costumes boxes that we did not flinch at pulling our own rolling suitcases.

However, we were painfully aware that our luggage was infinitely heavier on departure than at arrival due to the enormous book of conference notes and the free catalogs and giveaways from the dozens of vendors.

If we looked confused or it took us too long to get off the elevators, it is simply because we are not used to arriving so quickly at our selected destination. You see, we usually have to ride elevators packed with young dancers who think it is hilarious to hit every button on the panel. Our stop is rarely the first!

Please explain to the wait staff that when we signed our bills to our room, we probably all wrote 5-6-7-8. We are hoping that the family staying in room 5678 found the humor in this situation. We have a really hard time stringing any other four numbers together. In addition, when someone suggested we tip the staff, we grabbed them at the waist and pitched them sideways. Blame it on the ballroom class!

I know only 8 or 10 of us were supposed to be seated at each table at the complimentary buffet breakfast, but as the week went on we needed to include our new friends. So we appreciate your staff’s help with moving the extra chairs. Plus, they never questioned my fifth cup of coffee or my extra yogurt parfait! They even looked the other way at the extra butter I used on my freshly toasted bagel. The lovely man who played the chimes to remind us to move along to class was probably shocked by the interpretive dance his tones inspired.

The room service staff was no doubt confused by the large amount of ice we required. Most of us had not danced since recital time, and our minds imagined that we were capable of more than our bodies were able to do. Hopefully your spa staff has recovered from the number of emergency massages booked that weekend. By the way, our insatiable need for chocolate as both energy source and comfort food explains the constant need to restock the $8.95 Snickers bars in the mini-bars.

I am sure that housekeeping needed to restock tissues quite often due to some of our more soul-searching seminars and the touching story of our honoree, Carol Crawford Smith, at the gala luncheon. There was not a dry eye in the ballroom for at least 20 minutes.

I should also explain that although we really did not need to wear either of the robes hanging in our rooms, as dance teachers we cannot resist a good costume. And yes, I did take my full-size shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and lotion home. I am hoping that the eucalyptus fragrance will bring my soul back to that amazing room after a long, trying day at the studio.

We also greatly appreciated the quiet way your staff went about their duties on Sunday morning. You see, we had a huge cocktail party on Saturday night and a few of us had not been out in quite a while. Picture 600 dance teachers and guests all in one room with a live band—really, The Phoenician is lucky to still have a ballroom at all. Have you ever seen a documentary on the feeding habits of piranhas? Ask your unfortunate friends who had to restock the hors d’ouevres at that event. I am sure your pool staff fished a few of us out of the hot tub that evening too!

I noticed the number of times you politely took our cameras from our hands to allow all of us to be in a picture. At the beginning of the conference, there were groupings of old friends and at the end groups of brand-new ones. Lending us paper and pen to write down email addresses and phone numbers was a nice touch.

Memories of what I learned about dance and myself at the conference will stay with me forever, and your smile was the icing on the cake. I know we were not your only conference this summer, but I am hoping that we have a special place in your heart as the best. On the wall next to my stereo I have placed a picture of you, my dear cabana boy, standing by your lovely yellow poolside haven, and I will remember you fondly as I begin my new dance season. Thanks again—and please warn your friends at next year’s resort!

Dance in the Desert

Notes on the 2008 DanceLife Teacher Conference

By Cheryl Ossola

An energetic vibe filled the air at the DanceLife Teacher Conference last August, with 585 attendees (mostly dance teachers, with a smattering of spouses and office managers) from the United States, Canada, Italy, and Mexico enjoying the luxe accommodations of The Phoenician in Scottsdale, AZ. Smiling faces were everywhere, along with a visible determination to make the most of the dozens of technique classes, business seminars, brainstorming sessions, and practical how-tos offered in four packed days.

Jo Rowan teaches an intermediate/advanced ballet class. (Photo by Theresa Smerud)

Everywhere I turned I met friendly people with fascinating stories, gung-ho attitudes, and tons of great teaching and business ideas. My fly-on-the-wall perspective (I was there to observe, schmooze, and ferret out story ideas for Dance Studio Life), revealed that dance teachers, or at least this bunch, are savvy, smart, eager to learn, and willing to help others by sharing their experiences.

The conference began with an inspirational speech by Rhee Gold, whose evangelistic fervor guaranteed that no slumbering souls missed out on his “sermon.” Attentive listeners filled every chair, many of them smiling and nodding as Gold’s welcoming message boomed out, at times interrupted by a feedback problem that sounded like an amplification of his pounding heartbeat. As the revved-up crowd surged by me en route to the first classes, I tagged along to sample as many as I could. Here’s a taste of what I encountered in my travels from room to room.

In the business and motivational seminars, people were as eager to talk as they were to listen, keeping the handheld mic runners hopping. That hyped-up level of enthusiasm permeated every class and discussion. One particularly lively seminar, called “Income: What a Good Idea,” generated dozens of moneymaking ideas as one attendee after another took the mic. School owners reported positive responses to such activities as Princess Camps for 4- to 10-year-olds, group guitar lessons for boys, renting space to a Pilates teacher, badge-fulfillment workshops for Girl Scout groups, themed tea parties, and birthday parties. How to choose? The creative thinking going on in that room was impressive—and infectious!

People left Hedy Perna’s packed seminar on props gushing about her creativity. Exclamations of “Wow!” and “Whoa!” peppered the air as slides of her homemade library set and stage-wide airplane filled huge projection screens. Perna has an obvious new career path as a prop-and-set consultant waiting for her when she’s had enough of school ownership.

During a lecture/demo on teaching preschool classes, attendees crowded around RoseMarie Boyden and her arsenal of props, and no one hesitated to play a 3-year-old when she asked for volunteers to be the “leaves” on her “oak tree.”

Joe Tremaine, always the entertainer, delivered practical advice combined with dry wit in his talk on teaching and choreographing for boys. I particularly liked his solution for guys with “funny hands”: Tape Popsicle sticks to their fingers until their bad habits are history.

Brian Foley filled his class on using class plans with great advice and common sense. Class plans are “for the future,” he said. “We teach for the future; work hard when they’re young and you’ll work less hard when they’re teens.” Putting thought into class structure pays off in more ways than one, since structure gives teachers the freedom to be creative. “There are no boring steps,” declared Foley, “only boring teachers.”

The technique classes were filled to capacity, with teachers crowding the portable floors and spilling over onto the surrounding carpet. Most participants approached the classes in one of three ways: by jumping in and dancing full-out; by marking the movement and then grabbing a notepad to jot down reminders and key points; by listening from behind video cameras, or pushing the “record” button and then joining in the class. Then there were those multitaskers who set up their video cameras in a lecture or discussion group and went to another room to take class.

In Tremaine’s high-energy jazz class, everyone from fresh young things to veteran teachers was working it out (and working off those pastries from the generous breakfast buffet). Diane Gudat’s humor and verve spiced up her tap class—her constant patter was as fun as her combinations. Laughter also filled Avi Miller and Ofer Ben’s classes on paddles and rolls and rhythm tap. With their vaudeville-style humor, they entertained as much as they taught—but underneath their smiles and jokes lies a serious approach to technique.

In Tremaine’s high-energy jazz class, everyone from fresh young things to veteran teachers was working it out (and working off those pastries from the generous breakfast buffet).

No slackers were tolerated in Gregg Russell’s hip-hop class: “I don’t start till you start, so get going,” he shouted, flashing that huge smile of his. “Like I tell my teens, this is not optional!” He ended his “Urban Tap” class with a killer shuffle scuff hop-and-click double-heel combo, laughing that “we look like Irish dancers on Red Bull!” Camaraderie was the name of the game in Russell’s “Husband Hip-Hop” class. The group of about 18 guys in baggy shorts and sneakers yelled and clapped for each other, laughed at their own mistakes, and cheerfully singled out the class champ. They never even missed a beat when I violated the “no women allowed” policy to peek in on the class.

In her intermediate/advanced ballet class, Jo Rowan made her personal flair a statement by costuming herself all in in red, topped with a turban-like head wrap. She showed me the sword she planned to use as a prop—clearly, this was not your average ballet class. People were scattered around the room, sprawled on the floor intently taking notes or using the backs of chairs as barres. These folks were serious. Margarita de Saá’s sweetness and love of ballet permeated her classes on teaching adult students and choreography/variations. Whether sitting quietly or taking class, the attendees hung on the words of this soft-spoken teacher. “I walk to work every day excited to teach,” de Saá said. “There is drama every day—you never know what you’ll encounter.” Heads nodded in agreement.

Finis Jhung’s popular ballet classes were filled with his on-the-money explanations and observations, like “Every leg needs a shoulder,” and (as he urged people to relax in a turn preparation) “Turns have no emotion; they’re very rational. Jumps have emotion.” My favorite: “Ballet is very simple—you either stand up or fall down.”

Joe Lanteri urged participants in his jazz and lyrical classes to give it their all—“This is for you!”—and offered as many words of wisdom as steps. The ballet foundation behind his style is obvious, and he drives that point home during class. “Technique comes from ballet class, not Wal-Mart, not Macy’s,” he said as he finessed a move. Later he cautioned the dancers to turn, not spin: “This is not the Tasmanian School of Turning.” Encouraging them to combine portions of combinations in infinitely variable ways, he emphasized the importance of including variety in class: “Wake ’em up; shake ’em up,” he said.

I was surprised at the amount of interest in the ballroom classes, taught by Art Stone—perhaps a welcome result of the popularity of TV’s Dancing With the Stars. Regardless of the reason, though, both sessions of “Ballroom Blitz” were overflowing, and the couples (most female/female due to the few men in attendance) were having an absolute blast. Enthusiasm was high as hips swiveled to a disco/Latin beat, and I saw more than a little improvising going on.

Outside of the classes, people never stopped talking. They shared ideas, made new friends, set up rendezvous times for poolside chats, and found new reasons to go on teaching. I chatted with one teacher who said she came to the conference ready to sell her school—but instead, she’s more fired up to keep going than ever. At least one brand-new school owner was there to soak up ideas and wisdom before opening her doors for the first time in September. When the attendees weren’t talking shop, they did some serious shopping at the 44 vendors’ booths, nabbed faculty members after class for photos (all of them with ear-to-ear grins), or enjoyed the resort’s five-star pampering.

Out of four long, intense days, here’s what stuck with me most: teachers connecting with teachers. One woman told me how frustrated she is with the social isolation in her community, where local dance teachers treat each other like competitors instead of colleagues. Others, who live in small towns in remote areas, experience the same kind of isolation for geographical reasons. But when dance teachers band together with a feeling of community, they find mentors and soul mates who can help them feel connected. And that, to me, is one of the conference’s most valuable benefits: networking. Teachers have so much to learn from one another.

The DanceLife Teacher Conference

4 days of career-building in Boston

During the first week of July (2007), Boston was home to hundreds of dance school owners and teachers, along with dozens of studio staff members and dance industry vendors. The event was the first DanceLife Teacher Conference, held July 3–6 at the Park Plaza Hotel in the heart of the city’s Back Bay district. With four days of business- and dance-track classes and seminars presented by top names in the field, there was something for everyone. Sharing the billing were presentations on marketing, selling a school, business brainstorming, summer camps, preschool and jazz curriculums; sessions on choreography, career guidance, and music; and dance classes that ran the gamut from ballet to Gyrokinesis® to hip-hop.

Gregg Russell teaches class. (Photo courtesy Recital Ready)

The guest faculty included Rosemarie Boyden, Joseph Giacobbe, Rennie Gold, Tom Ralabate, Joe Tremaine, Gregg Russell, Derrick Yanford, and many others. At the gala luncheon Ralabate and Shevon McBride delighted diners with a swing dance, and Russell tore up the stage with a tap dance. Lifetime achievement awards were presented to Nancy Bradford Lonero, who recently celebrated her 60th teaching anniversary, and Marjorie Sellers, who finished her 74th year. 

Teachers from 38 states around the country attended: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Canada made a good showing, with 24 schools represented, and a few teachers made the trek from such faraway places as Scotland, Singapore, and the Canary Islands.

Thank-yous and words of praise have been pouring in. Will there be a DanceLife Teacher Conference in 2008? You bet! See you next year!

 “I really enjoyed knowing I’m not alone. I feel like now I am a member of a secret society that only others in my field can understand. So many positive things were expressed that I feel like I can continue to teach until my body wears down.” —Janet Graham, Janet’s Dance Studio, Mexico, MO

“Wow, what a great week! I feel so full of new ideas and motivation! I only wish I could have taken all the classes offered—there were so many great choices.” —Barb Jackman, Dance Images by BJ, Moose Jaw, SK, Canada

“To be educated, to be informed, to be challenged, to be the best I can be—this is what the conference put in my heart. I had a marvelous and rejuvenating time. I discovered that at 51 years young, I need to keep dancing and teaching. That is priceless to me!” —Caroline Batson, Vicki Michelle [Studio], Spring, TX

 “The entire program was better than great! Your selection of guest teachers and presenters was unmatched! Motivation, inspiration, and over-the-top enthusiasm! Amazing!” —Jeannie Rizzo, Marblehead, MA

“Even after 29 years in this business as a studio owner, I walked away with a notebook full of ideas and suggestions to improve my business.” —Terrie Legein, Legein Dance Academy, Coventry, RI