Tom Karaty founded In The Spotlight with his wife, Jane, in New Jersey in 1988. With 725 students ages 3 to 18, the studio presents recitals and prepares students for competitions. Karaty says the dance shows on television have not affected his business.
“The majority of our students don’t even watch the shows,” he notes, “although there is a core group—about 15 percent—who wouldn’t miss So You Think You Can Dance. I find that show has a preponderance of modern and barefoot dance that is angry and not uplifting, and I don’t think fathers and mothers see their daughters or sons doing that kind of dance.”
What Karaty has found, however, is that hip hop has become the most requested class. “That’s what the mothers and the kids see on videos, on TV. So a mother who doesn’t know the first thing about dance brings in her 5-year-old to start learning hip hop.” To that end, Karaty says he’s been offering more classes in response to demand.