Tim Milgram's New Dance Studio Aims to Break Class Video Stereotypes

The dancers-slay-choreo-while-onlookers-cheer class video is pretty popular these days. And if you've watched a viral class video within the past 24 hours, there's a good chance it was filmed by Tim Milgram. With 3.1 million subscribers and counting on his YouTube channel, TMilly TV, it's obvious that online audiences love his video style, with its dramatic lighting and choreographed camera work.

But while many in the dance community appreciate class videos as a way to show their work and expand their online following, others have spoken out against the practice, questioning how it negatively affects dancers' training and priorities. Acknowledging those complaints, Milgram recently decided to open his own studio, TMilly TV, in North Hollywood, CA. It aims to create a better balance between time spent learning and time spent filming. Already, the studio has attracted some big-name faculty, from Dominique Kelley to Jake Kodish.

We caught up with Milgram to get the scoop on his new studio, and how he hopes to improve the dance community's perception of the class video.


Milgram at work (courtesy Milgram)

What effects has the class video trend had on the dance world? When did you decide you wanted to do something positive about it?

Over the past few years, I realized how big of an impact incorporating cinematic filming into the classroom has had on the dance community. I felt like I'd achieved something amazing by putting dancers in the spotlight and showing the personalities of dancers in class videos. But with the trend evolving so quickly, there've been a few unfortunate consequences. The main one is that the amount of time spent filming in classes continues to increase, often with no oversight from the dance studios themselves. This started to affect the amount of time and emphasis given to actual dance training in classes. It wasn't long before there was some backlash.

Nobody called me out specifically, but I still felt attached to the issue. It was two years ago, after some soul searching, that I realized I wanted to open a studio where training and filming are both valued and given the proper amount of time and emphasis they deserve.

What was it like opening up your own studio?

I've learned so much in the past two years! After many months of searching for a location and finally signing a lease, I started what would become a nine-month-long construction process. As I was working on the studio, I was also running a master class series to test out the idea. I would rent space and bring lights in, and create an environment for a good class. It reassured me that this whole thing was going to work.

Finally, in September, 2018, we had our first class. Now, I'm super stoked to have this amazing space. It's the perfect hybrid between a dance studio and a production space.

Courtesy Milgram

What is class at TMilly TV like?

All our classes are 2-hour blocks, ensuring a full 1.5 hour dance class happens before filming begins. Once that mark hits, we adjust the lighting to accommodate the center of the room rather than the entire room, and a videographer comes in. By that point, everybody's already danced a lot in smaller and smaller groups, so they're ready to go.

The filming portion of class is in many ways like being on a music video set. We give our staff on-camera training sessions, and teach them the principles of filming dance, so everyone understands the reasons behind the bells and whistles.

I don't want to be known as the filming studio. It's not about the clips. Despite the lights, fog, and cameras, the training you get in a class here is our top priority. I believe dance deserves to be captured in a way that is entertaining without distracting from the choreography and performance.

How can dancers get more comfortable in front of the camera?

Practice! Giving dancers the opportunity to perform on camera is important. It's not always about the footage, but rather about getting away from the mirror, which is potentially harmful if you get too comfortable with it. Even just marking away from the mirror and imagining there's a camera there can be helpful. My main goal is to lower people's stress level in front of the camera, so when they're in a high-pressure environment like their first music video, they feel safe—and thus don't have to be safe in their dancing.

Where do you see the studio in the future?

Now that the logistics have worked themselves out, I'm starting to think about unique programming, which better integrates the filming and the class. I want the studio to be a beacon in the dance community, a well-respected place for people to get a dance education, create content, and build their brands.

Latest Posts


Photo by Joe Toreno. Hair by Marina Migliaccio and makeup by Lisa Chamberlain, both for the Rex Agency.

Sienna Lalau: The Dynamite Dancer and Choreographer Helping BTS Make Magic

At just 20 years old, Sienna Lalau is the living definition of "dynamite dancer": bold, confident, almost addicting to watch, and, at her core, overflowing with pure passion. From her work with The Lab Studios to Video Music Award–winning choreography for BTS, there's no stopping this starlet from bringing her love of dance to the global stage.

"Dance is something that can truly connect people," Sienna tells Dance Spirit. "It's a universal language. We may not speak the same language physically, but when we dance, there's a connection where we understand each other on another level."

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Tanishq Joshi brings his star quality to stage in his hometown of Indore, India (courtesy Tanishq Joshi)

Tanishq Joshi is Stomping on South Asian Stereotypes by Fusing Hip-Hop Choreo With Bollywood Music

For Tanishq Joshi (aka Taneesky), becoming a dancer was as unexpected as your music cutting off mid-performance. An unfortunate injury in his hometown of Indore, Madhya Pradesh, India, led to the more fortunate discovery of a new passion and a flourishing career.

Joshi's had the opportunity to choreograph and compete at "World of Dance" events, perform at the JaQuel Knight Showdown, and grace the stage at Pharrell Williams' "Something in the Water" concert. And that's all on top of work and training with dancers and choreographers like Devin Solomon, Denzel Chisolm, Josh Killacky, Samantha Caudle, and Jake Kodish.

Joshi shared his story with Dance Spirit, and broke down how his unique approach to choreography is helping him diminish stereotypes, open doors for South Asian dancers, and inspire the dance community at large.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Houston Ballet Demi Soloist Natalie Varnum shows off her signature style (Claire McAdams, courtesy Houston Ballet)

Fashion Forward: 3 Pros Share What Goes into Their Dancewear Choices

When it comes to in-studio dancewear, the pros know that the right look, piece, or material can mean the difference between a day feeling confident and comfortable, or just plain out of sorts. With so much time spent honing their craft in dance clothes, choosing those items takes equal parts strategy, creativity and a healthy dose of fun.

Here, professional dancers Ian Eastwood, Karilyn Ashley Surratt, and Natlie Varnum share what goes into their fashion choices that enables them to look good, feel great, and turn heads in the studio.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

contest
Enter the Cover Model Search