Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Renovation.. Unsteady Progress

A few weeks into June, with nothing other than a new wall accomplished, I admitted to myself that having the room ready for July summer classes was a bit ambitious.  Could we have held classes with a boombox on the carpet?  Sure.  Was that the first impression of the new and exciting space I wanted to give my clients. Uh, absolutely not.

So, onto painting.  But wait!  First the other studio location has to have a pipe burst!  And flood the entire space!  And ruin lots of things!  And require insurance inspectors and summer camp last-minute changes and new rugs and potentially ruined marley!  Because chaos!

::deep breath::

So that was a fun weekend of clean-up and tears and then realizing that a pipe bursting during summer and destroying a bunch of old costumes is not the worst thing in the world, even if it is inconvenient and a pain to clean up (imagine if it happened a week before recital and ruined THOSE costumes?!).  It is also just a bit disconcerting to find your entire space covered in water.




But, back to the matter at hand - oh yeah, I was supposed to be painting, not mopping up water.

And look, a new window!


It turned out, when picking out window sizes that this size was the best one to go with because any bigger was a big jump in expense. 


Making progress...

To Do List
X Connect spaces
X Build waiting room wall
X Waiting room window
X Paint waiting room
X Paint dance room
- Install dance floor
- Furnish waiting room
- Buy sound system
- Ballet barres in dance room
- Order and install mirrors

Next up... flooring!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Renovation Begins...

So the first task in the New Space, was to connect the new space to the old space.

A refresher on what we are trying to accomplish:

So I began renting the space in June with the very, very VERY optimistic goal (did I mention VERY optimistic) of having it ready in time for July summer classes.

My contractor and I went over what I wanted and he gave suggestions and little tweaks that made more sense with things like electrical outlets and windows and building code.

And then on June 2 (five days before our end of year recital) the work began!

It was amazing how quickly the wall went up - they framed it out and had the sheetrock up in no time.  The hole is for the observation window eventually.



Looking through the "window" into the dance room.


And connecting the two space (new space is purple, existing studio is beige).




Ahhh!  I don't know why, but when I saw this, I started getting super excited!  It's real, it's real!



Looking back through at the narrow waiting room.


So that was pretty much it with the professional help other than the mirrors and window installation, the rest is on me and my husband!

To Do List
X Connect spaces
X Build waiting room wall
- Waiting room window
- Paint waiting room
- Paint dance room
- Install dance floor
- Furnish waiting room
- Buy sound system
- Ballet barres in dance room
- Order and install mirrors

Next up... painting!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Summer Moving, Happened So Fast!

Summer moving, havin' a bla-a-ast!

Summer?  In October?  Ok, its been a crazy last few months - but I finally have had some time to write about my summer adventures!  Hope you are all having a wonderful start to your school years - I've missed blogging and am happy to get back to it.

A little background - I have two studio locations, with the smaller location having one dance room. We are in a strip of businesses and we are currently the second-to-last unit from the end. The last unit on our end used to be rented by a Curves (workout for women), but the owner decided to move on and the space went up for lease last January.  It sat vacant for a few months and I looked at the space, did some calculations, negotiated the price and by June, we were in contract!

It may sound like I jumped in quickly, but in reality, I tried to make sure it was a smart decision, talked it over with just about everyone I could think of who could give me some perspective and triple-checked my break-even calculations.

So here is a super short tour of what we started with, and I apologize for the poor quality cellphone pictures:

That is standing in the front of the building, looking towards the back. The doorways back there lead to a utility closet (furnace / AC units) and bathroom.

 And here is standing in the back by the bathroom and looking at the front.  Our existing space is to the right ("through" the purple wall). Windows look out onto the sidewalk and parking lot and there is an exterior door to the left.  Also strangely located air conditioner to the left and yellow ladder, which did not come with the space, much to my husband's disappointment.

Here is a floorplan to help visualize. The new space is in purple:

So as you can see, the purple Curves space is a loooong room, but with a lot of potential!  And a lot of PURPLE.  Purple walls, purple trim, purple rug. What's hard to see in the photos is that the ceilings are actually 10' tall - which is awesome!

After brainstorming, our potential game-plan into turning this into a functional dance studio was this:


1) Divide the space and create a waiting area - one of the biggest struggles of our existing space was the waiting room was very narrow and small.  It was impossible for anyone with a stroller to enter and would be crazy when one class was leaving and another arriving.  I wanted to make the new waiting room a little bit deeper to help fix this problem.

2) Adding connecting doorways - we needed to connect the two spaces together, by joining the waiting rooms and in another spot.  In the waiting room, I wanted an open doorway to make the rooms feel very open and encourage overflow from the narrow waiting room into the larger one.  

I also wanted to a door connecting the two studios, but <> apparently the wall between the two studios was filled with bricks?!  My contractor found this to be annoying and confusing (as did I).   The only other place that had just sheetrock separating the two spaces was all the way in the back through the furnace closet.  Not ideal, but as Tim Gunn says, we made it work.

I know you are anxious for beautiful before and after photos, which I PROMISE will happen, but in another post!

Friday, August 15, 2014

2014 Music Selections

Because I'm a huge music / stats nerd, I like to share my song choices from each year.  It's mostly for me to be able to look back and say "when did I use that song"? , but maybe someone will enjoy it too.

(Here's 2013's music list if you're curious... and 2012... and 2011)

Our first half of our recital had a theme which was "dance inspired by literature or literary themes", so you may notice that some of my songs are related to books.

Links open in iTunes, unless otherwise noted :)

TEENS

TWEENS
CHILDREN
"I'm Late" - white rabbit tap solo
Loved this one!



Can I get a show of hands for who used an "over popular" song this year and regretted it?  What was your favorite song to choreograph to this year?  Comment below.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Our "Frozen-Inspired" Dance Camp: Activities & Games


This post is part of our "Frozen-Inspired" Dance Camp Series.

Activities / Creative Movement

Melting & Freezing
We explored the movement qualities of melting and freezing by pretending to be Olaf melting in the summer or freezing with Elsa's help.  We melted for 16 slooooooow counts, and froze again for 16 then repeated in 8 counts, 4 counts, 2 and 1!  We melted with a friend, froze into different shapes or poses, started on one leg, etc.  Lots of variations to be had with this one!
More Melting Inspiration from Maria's Movers Blog

Journey to Elsa's Castle
We pretended to be Anna and Kristoff making their journey to or from Elsa's castle.  We did this by playing Going on a Bear Hunt, but we changed the words to "We're going on a journey, we're gonna go get Elsa, I'm not scared, I'm not scared".  For the next part ("we can't go over it, we can't go under it, I guess we'll go... through it!"), we encountered :
  • Deep deep snow - big slow marches to lift our feet through the snow
  • A dark forest - tip toes
  • A cold frozen stream - skating
  • A big tall mountain - climbing actions
  • An icy staircase - careful climbing actions
Until we got to the castle and knocked on the door and found... MARSHMALLOW (the snow monster)!  Reverse all the actions as fast at you can to go back to Arrendale and climb into bed with the covers over our head.

Creative Movement based on Scenes or Characters from the Movie
We did a lot of creative movement / free dance, based on settings and characters from the movie.  We would first describe the scene / character, then talk about the movements the characters did (running, rolling, climbing, skating, etc) and then dance them using those movements.  Some of our favorite scenes:

Olaf In Summer - skipping, laying (sun-tanning), swaying, blowing dandelions, floating


Skating on Elsa's pond - skating, twirling, sliding

Dancing like Marshmallow - "stompy", angry, slow

They also enjoyed pretending to be at the coronation ball, dancing like the trolls, pretending to be a snow-swirl created by Elsa, and of course, being Elsa.


Games

In addition to the usual run of camp games (Freeze Dance, 4 corners, relay races, etc), we added a few or tailored them to better fit our theme:

Obstacle Course - We set up various obstacles around the room relating to the trip to Elsa's castle.  We used cones to tip toe around like trees, a tunnel to go under, a gym mat to roll across, a "tightrope" (tape line on the floor) to walk on, ice puddles to jump over (little rugs)

Pin the Nose on Olaf - we had an Olaf-shaped posterboard and had the girls take turns being blind-folded and pinning their "nose" onto Olaf.  Since we had a large crew, we split them between three different groups so we could have three people going at the same time.

Our life-size Anna & Elsa was a
big hit for photos!
Red Light, Green Light, Frozen Variation - Basic Red light/Greenlight rules - in our version instead of being a redlight/greenlight, the "It" person is Elsa - and freezes people when she turns around.  We used the terms "WINTER" for STOP and "SUMMER" for GO.  If anyone was caught moving when the "It" person said WINTER, they had to go back to the starting line.  First person to touch the "It" person gets to be "It" for the next round.

One other thing that we used during the week was this Life-size Anna & Elsa - we found this great life-size cardboard cutout from Amazon.  They have other characters, but I really liked the two girls together.  We used them for a backdrop in our pictures and the kids loved "holding their hand" and just seeing them in general.


What other games / activities can be adapted to fit a "Frozen" theme?  Are you sick of the music yet?  Will you use it in your classes next season? Comment below!

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