3 (Dance-Related) Reasons to Park Yourself on the Couch This Friday Night

I'm pretty sure I just found my Friday night plans. (Lucky for me, it doesn't involve leaving my couch.) And for no good reason other than that great dance shouldn't go unappreciated or unseen (and that I also happen to be a generous person), I'm here to convince you to adopt my plan as your own: Watch the narrative dance film Young Men, streaming now on PBS, about a group of young men who experience the brutality of war. Here's why:

  1. The dancers are amazing. It's performed by members of BalletBoyz, the London-based contemporary ballet company with a thing for dance film founded by former Royal Ballet dancers Michael Nunn and William Trevitt. The dancers look like this:

Who's objectifying? Not meeeee...

And dance like THIS:

2. Young Men was choreographed by Iván Pérez, a former Nederlands Dans Theater member who created one of my absolute favorite dances in the history of contemporary dance (I do not say this lightly)—Flesh, which he choreographed for NDT II. The partnering in this piece alone is SICK. I seriously watch videos of this dance once every couple of months:

3. It's only streaming on PBS until May 5. That's roughly a little over two weeks left. Watch this trailer, and I'm positive you'll be ready to commit to this as your Friday Night Plan.

Teachers Trending
Photo by Yvonne M. Portra, courtesy Faulkner

It's a Wednesday in May, and 14 Stanford University advanced modern ­dance students are logged on to Zoom, each practicing a socially distanced duet with an imaginary person. "Think about the quality of their personality and the type of duet you might have," says their instructor Katie Faulkner, "but also their surface area and how you'd relate to them in space." Amid dorm rooms, living rooms, dining rooms and backyards, the dancers make do with cramped quarters and dodge furniture as they twist, curve, stretch and intertwine with their imaginary partners.

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Music
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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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