Dance Fever

Studios are tapping into the power of reality TV

Kelly Casanova is dancing as fast as she can. The San Francisco dance instructor can hardly meet demand for her West Coast Swing classes. Revenues at Casanova's $80,000 dance business are up 25% this year, thanks to reality-TV shows like So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing With the Stars, where people tango and fox-trot before nitpicking judges. "People are definitely enthused by what they see on TV," says Casanova, who teaches about 2,000 students a year.

The buzz is filling dance studios nationwide. Colleen Dean, program administrator of the National Dance Assn. in Reston, Va., says the organization's ballroom classes are sold out this year. "The TV shows are reaching people of all ages and ability," Dean says.

Whether the toe-squishers will stick with it is another question. Revenues at the Dance Factory in Houston have risen 25% from the $200,000 the swing, hustle, and ballroom classes brought in last year. "Partnership dancing is the biggest rage right now," says owner Mario Robau. But he adds the true reality of dance is that about 80% of newbies drop out after two classes.

Edited by Jeremy Quittner

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