Dance Studios, Schools, and Halls

SIC 7911

Companies in this industry

Industry report:

Establishments in this industry are primarily engaged in operating dance studios, schools, and public dance halls or ballrooms. Establishments primarily engaged in renting facilities used as dance halls or ballrooms are classified in SIC 6512: Operators of Nonresidential Buildings. This category includes ballroom operation, children's dancing schools, dance hall operation, dance instructors, dance studios and schools, discotheques (except those serving alcoholic beverages), and professional dancing schools.

In 2012, this approximately $1.5 billion industry constituted a very small portion of the overall recreation category. It was dominated by small, independent schools run by sole proprietors, usually owner-operators. The two major nationwide dance school chains, Arthur Murray International and Fred Astaire Dance Studios, catered to adults. Independent studios, which were primarily involved in teaching ballet and tap dancing to children, outnumbered other franchises by about six to one.

The dance school industry in the United States has had an uneven history. Dancing as a leisure activity was forced underground by the dominant colonial Protestant culture that declared dancing socially unacceptable and linked it to drinking and lewdness. Even when European immigrants brought traditional dances to the United States during the nineteenth century, they were limited to celebrations at ethnic social halls.

Dancing became more mainstream in the twentieth century, when music and more organized bands gained enthusiastic followings. The advent of prohibition in 1920 separated dancing and drinking somewhat and made dancing more socially respectable. Many commercial dance palaces were set up during this period, and in New York City alone, dance halls had revenues of $8 million in 1920.

Arthur Murray and Fred Astaire, the namesakes of the twentieth century's two largest dance schools, first opened studios during this period. Murray opened his first dance studio when he was just 18 years old. Murray's career reflected the fortunes of the dance school and hall industry, swelling in the 1940s when the song, "Arthur Murray Taught Me Dancing in a Hurry," was penned by Johnny Mercer. A request by a hotel manager to have Arthur Murray dance instructors in all Statler Hotels was just the beginning. Headquartered in Coral Gables, Florida, the company had around 180 studies in nine countries. In 1964, Murray and his wife Kathryn sold the studios to Philip Masters and President and CEO George Theiss, who retained ownership. Arthur Murray International reported revenues of $1.6 million in 2008 and had 220 franchised studios in 10 countries.

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers inspired young men and women to emulate their moves in such popular films as Top Hat, Swing Time, and Shall We Dance. The Fred Astaire Dance Studios, headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida, were established in 1947 and continued to have locations in about 30 states.

A combination of social, economic, and demographic factors contributed to the decline of ballroom dancing and the dance school industry in the 1950s and 1960s. Fewer extravagant romantic movie musicals were filmed. The advent of counter-culture rock-and-roll music was accompanied by an increase in alcohol use, transferring much social dancing into another industrial category. Moreover, the mass exodus to suburbia during this period resulted in a decreasing number of couples visiting urban dance halls. During the 1960s and 1970s, improvised singles dancing grew increasingly popular, and organized couples dancing became reserved for weddings and other special occasions.

Ballroom dancing regained popularity in the 1980s, spurred by a modest revival of music from the first half of the century. As the decade of conspicuous consumption progressed, ballroom dancing provided an outlet for prosperous men and women to dress up and spend money. Dance studios and halls also benefited from the fitness craze, as people danced for exercise and to relieve tension. The return of traditional formal weddings also contributed to this industry's growth in the 1980s. Dance teachers also credited the Public Broadcasting Service, which carried major ballroom dance competitions beginning in 1981, for promoting the activity. Dance studios began to coordinate more competitions, which encouraged students to take more lessons in preparation for competition.

The World Dance Sport Association (WDSA; formerly the International Dancesport Federation [IDSF]) spent the second half of the twentieth century working toward the acceptance of ballroom dancing as an Olympic event. By the mid-2000s, 57 of the 84 federations worldwide had been recognized by Olympic committees. In 1987, the organization designated the United States Amateur Ballroom Dancers Association, which became known as USA Dance, as the sole governing body for amateur ballroom dancing in the United States. Ten years later, the International Olympic Committee gave full recognition to the IDSF and its affiliates.

In 2005, USA Dance estimated that its membership had increased from about 13,000 to almost 20,000 over 10 years. Competitive Dancesport membership was about 5,000, which represented an increase from 3,500 over five years. By this time, ballroom dancing was attracting dancers of all ages. In New York City, some 7,000 elementary school students in 68 schools were participating in a program run by the American Ballroom Institute. Part physical education and part social education, the program culminated in a city-wide competition. On the other end of the spectrum, older adults were encouraged to return to the dance floor by a study published in 2003 by the New England Journal of Medicine that found a 76 percent risk reduction for dementia in participants who were dancers. The growing popularity of recreational dance was also evidenced by the number of Web sites devoted to ballroom, folk, Latin, swing, and country/western dancing. These sites offer directories of schools, dance halls, and competitions.

As popular dance boomed, however, professional dance lagged. Rehearsal space in New York City, always rare, was taken away from professional dancers and college students and used for more lucrative activities. A sizable number of professional dancers supplemented their incomes by working as aerobics instructors. In addition, dance companies were licensing fitness centers to use their names, choreography, and techniques.

Although college dance students were being urged by their professors to prepare for alternative careers, dance schools at the University of Utah, the University of Hartford, Rutgers University, the University of Iowa, and Hunter College of the City University of New York still provided professional dancers for smaller companies. A growing concern for dancers' health was responsible for the inclusion of nutrition classes in these curricula. The National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD), founded in 1981, had approximately 72 institutional members in 2012, all of which offered programs in dance. As an accrediting agency, the NASD served to delineate and improve practices and professional standards in dance education and training. Universities also responded to student interest in ballroom dance training and competition. By the mid-years of the first decade of the 2000s, more than 300 colleges had developed ballroom programs, sometimes through continuing education departments.

Music copyright collections were a prominent issue for dance schools. Schools were required to pay fees for the use of music registered with ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC. Although there appeared to be agreement in the dance community that composers should receive royalties when their music was used during public performances, the status of many schools as non-profit institutions was a cause for controversy.

Beginning in the mid-2000s, success of the television show "Dancing with the Stars" elevated dance, and subsequently, dance studios, to a higher profile. By the end of the decade, most dance studios were still riding the wave created by the widely popular television hit, which entered its fourteenth season in 2012. Many studios were offering ballroom or "Fred and Ginger" classes. However, versatility tended to be the key to viability to most studios. Although some catered to only children or only adults, many offered programs for both. Ballet and tap remained standard fare, but more studios were also providing teaching opportunities for hip hop and specialty workshops such as "Bollywood" style dance as seen in the hit movie Slumdog Millionaire. Pole dancing, as traditionally performed by strippers, had also found a niche in the late 2000s among women as a form of exercise as well as expression. Also called "pole fitness" or "vertical dance," in 2012 this form of dancing was making a bid to become an Olympic sport, supported by organizations such as the Pole Fitness Association. According to California Pole Dance Championship organizer Anjel Dust, "Nowadays there are very few who are training to perform in a strip club. It's all about fitness or competitions.... I think pole dancing is being seen more as an art form." By 2012, there were more than 500 pole dancing fitness studios in the United States.

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News and information about Dance Studios, Schools, and Halls

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...The trademark DWM DANCE STUDIOS EST. 2005...Owner: DWM Dance Studios, LLC LIMITED LIABILITY...the words "DANCE STUDIOS" at the bottom...children; Dance schools; Dance studios; Organization of...events; Performance hall rental services; Physical ...
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...The trademark DWM DANCE STUDIOS (Reg...Owner: DWM Dance Studios, LLC LIMITED LIABILITY...the words "dance studios" at the bottom...children; Dance schools; Dance studios; Organization of...events; Performance hall rental services; Physical fitness ...
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