Teaching Tips

Beginner Tips for Filming Your Next Dance Class

Filming class is all the rage these days, but without proper know-how, your videos can end up looking unprofessional. High- quality footage enhances the entire experience of your choreography and will give your students content they can use to promote themselves and further their career.

Here are five basic video tips for teachers who want to dip their toes in videography. These bad boys will put you on the road to get quality footage from your next class. Check 'em out! 👇


1. Use a tripod

To avoid shaky footage, always put your phone or camera on a tripod when shooting.

2. Film horizontally

Unless you're filming for Instagram stories, never shoot video vertically. Horizontal shots will make for the simplest upload and edit process.

3. Buy a Gimbal (for mobile devices) or a Ronan (for traditional cameras)

In order to get smooth footage while moving around the room, use a Ronan or a Gimbal. These devices will make your dancers feel like they're in a real video shoot and will give them the camera experience they need to be successful in the industry.

4. Light the room

Whether with natural light from the windows or a lighting kit like this one, proper lighting can take a poor-quality video to great-quality in seconds.

5. Get to know your favorite video-editing software

Once you've shot class, it's time to edit. Take the time to get to know your video-editing software options. For beginners, iMovie is a great place to start. For more ambitious videographers, Adobe Premier Pro is excellent. Use online tutorials to discover all that these programs have to offer so you can edit your videos to perfection.

Music
Getty Images

Securing the correct music licensing for your studio is an important step in creating a financially sound business. "Music licensing is something studio owners seem to either embrace or ignore completely," says Clint Salter, CEO and founder of the Dance Studio Owners Association. While it may seem like it's a situation in which it's easier to ask for forgiveness rather than permission—that is, to wait until you're approached by a music-rights organization before purchasing a license—Salter disagrees, citing Peloton, the exercise company that produces streaming at-home workouts. In February, Peloton settled a music-licensing suit with the National Music Publishers' Association out-of-court for an undisclosed amount. Originally, NMPA had sought $300 million in damages from Peloton. "It can get extremely expensive," says Salter. "It's not worth it for a studio to get caught up in that."

As you continue to explore a hybrid online/in-person version of your class schedule, it's crucial that your music licenses include coverage for livestreamed instruction—which comes with its own particular requirements. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about music licensing—in both normal times and COVID times—as well as some safe music bets that won't pose any issues.

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Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

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Higher Ed
The author, Robyn Watson. Photo courtesy Watson

Recently, I posted a thread of tweets elucidating the lack of respect for tap dance in college dance programs, and arguing that it should be a requirement for dance majors.

According to onstageblog.com, out of the 30 top-ranked college dance programs in the U.S., tap dance is offered at 19 of them, but only one school requires majors to take more than a beginner course—Oklahoma City University. Many prestigious dance programs, like the ones at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and SUNY Purchase, don't offer a single course in tap dance.

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