High Five with Lisa Plumb Pelliteri
March 1, 2011

Plumb Performing Arts Center dancers

Plumb Performing Arts Center

Scottsdale, AZ

In business since: 1987

Number of students enrolled: 400+

What is the secret to your studio’s success? It starts with the teachers I hire. On my faculty of 10, three performed in Broadway’s Movin’ Out under the direction of Twyla Tharp, and one is a Juilliard graduate. But when we can’t get through to the kids, I bring in master teachers and outside choreographers. Maybe we can’t explain a certain technique to the dancers, but someone else can. I bring in guest teachers for master classes four times a year. Lastly, we really push ballet. Our teen and senior competition dancers take a 90-minute ballet class six days a week.

Why do you take your dancers to competition? Traveling to competitions opened a whole new world for us. We tell our kids that it’s not about getting the
trophy or the title—it’s about growing and learning through the life lessons dance competitions provide. Our students know that they have to put in the work in order to see results, and competitions increase their desire to push further.

In the midst of competition season, how do you make sure the dancers are staying on track? March is tough because the dancers have been going, going, going. In the fall, every dancer sets a goal for competition season and writes it down on a piece of paper. Then we hang all the goals up in the studio and check on their progress every week. Some dancers write that they want to stretch daily, some want to rehearse their solos more and others hope to attend five auditions for college dance programs.

How do you handle the stress that arises during competition season? I take everything in stride, one day at a time. When I’m at an event, I focus on getting through one dance at a time. Back in the studio, I am reminded of how much I love the kids. If there’s something stressful going on, I’ll just sit and watch one of the classes. Seeing them makes it all worth it. Sometimes you just have to remind yourself that you’re not trying to cure cancer or win a nuclear arms race. You’re there to provide art, teach and inspire.

What is your advice to fellow studio owners who are headed to competition? Each routine needs a backup performer because you never know when someone will get sick or injured. Be well-rehearsed and come prepared for anything.

Photo: Plumb by ProPix Photo & Video, courtesy of Plumb Performing Arts Center

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