Studio Spotlight: Broadway Dance Center
How this NYC-based dance center used its faculty to engage former students -- and acquire new ones -- around the world.
While Broadway shows are on hiatus, the show goes on in the homes of dance and theater professionals and fans worldwide. Broadway Dance Center (BDC) is one of the most renowned dance schools in the world, featuring high-caliber instructors and professional dancers continuing their training. Prior to the coronavirus shutdown, BDC offered 350 in-person classes a week in a wide variety of dance disciplines. Now, they’re operating live-streaming classes from their studios and beyond, making prestigious teachers accessible to dancers worldwide.
We sat down with Reese Snow and April Cook of Broadway Dance Center in NYC, to learn more about how they used live-streaming to build a global dance community for theater enthusiasts and professional dancers alike.
FitGrid: Was a virtual experience always in the plans or did COVID thrust you into it?
BDC: We were definitely thrust in. Everything came to a grinding halt in March and we didn’t know how long it would last. Having a digital platform was something we’d thought about doing in the past, but we’d always been too busy. And, as an arts organization, we have to strike a balance between technology and the arts to stay true to our brand. That’s hard to do virtually, but now we’re learning and have had great success.
FG: Why did you decide to use FitGrid and Zoom?
BDC: We made the decision after doing free social media classes and we saw how important the two-way interaction was for our community. We needed to have teachers teach and interact with the students on the screen. Zoom allowed us to do that and allowed many students to connect with teachers they hadn’t seen in a long time.
FG: Tell us more about that. Did you have a lot of students taking class outside of NYC?
BDC: Definitely. So many people left New York, especially when shows were cancelled.We were able to reconnect with those dancers and students that trained with us regularly, across the US and internationally. There’s also been a surge of people who have discovered us during this time that danced in college or just love showtunes.
FG: That’s really interesting. How would you say your demographics have shifted?
BDC: We’re still learning who our live-streaming clients are, but overall we’re seeing two different types of students. The professional dancer that wants to come to NYC and train with us and the client who wants to do something fun and try something new.
FG: Have you added any new classes to cater to the more casual dancer or fitness-oriented audience?
BDC: Yes. We’ve added more “feel good” classes. One of our most popular is our 567Broadway class. It’s cardio to showtunes! It’s been fun to add things to the schedule that people are willing to take a chance on.
FG: So, how are you marketing to these new virtual clients?
BDC: We’re pretty established in NYC and other dance markets, but the big driver is our faculty. Each teacher has their own reach and following. We’ve seen this a lot with the guest teachers we’ve brought on recently.
FG: Tell us more about how the pandemic has impacted your teaching roster.
BDC: The pandemic has actually worked in our favor as far as our roster goes. We’ve gotten some amazing choreographers that we would never have had access to previously because of their schedule or location. We now have a global pool of amazing instructors and artists. It’s incredible.
FG: Any teachers we might recognize?
BDC: Definitely! Our guest faculty has included Sonya Tayeh who choreographed Broadway's Moulin Rouge! and Brian & Scott Nicholson from Ariana Grande’s tour. We’ve also had Kathryn Burns who choreographed My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. People love learning choreography from things they’ve watched so we’ve had a lot of fun with that!
FG: What was one of the biggest challenges in adapting to online teaching?
BDC: One of the things we didn’t even think about was that Zoom doesn’t reverse the camera. The majority of our teachers are used to teaching to mirrors so this was an unexpected challenge! But, they adapted and practiced and now it’s become second nature.
FG: What are some of the surprising things that you’ve seen come about since you went virtual?
BDC: We’ve seen a lot of people take risks and try new classes that they wouldn't take in person (we've even seen celebrities like Hugh Jackman!) because they can turn their cameras off and not worry about being self-conscious.
Live-streaming opens the doors to bring in global teachers and students, just like BDC did. Start live-streaming and building your global community today, sign up for your free trial of FitGrid
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lindsay McClelland manages social media and influencer marketing for FitGrid. As a self-proclaimed "people person" who loves group fitness classes for the social aspect, she was immediately drawn to FitGrid for its innovation in keeping fitness communities together during a crisis. Her passion for fitness and wellness brands stems from her personal interests as a yoga teacher, competitive marathon runner, and former collegiate swimmer.
FitGrid is a community management system designed for boutique fitness studios to engage clients on a personal level