Teaching Tips

4 Reasons to Attend a Dance Conference

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Professions across the globe hold yearly conferences, and the dance industry is certainly no exception. Annual conferences exist for dance teachers, dance medicine professionals, dance educators and more. Taking the time out to attend them can be well worth your while for a number of different reasons. Let's take a closer look at four of them.


1. Learning – This may be the most obvious reason to go to a dance-related conference, but that by no means makes it any less important. There are sessions for everyone, covering everything from best practices, to current research, to hands-on training. You'll learn from all kinds of different practitioners/professionals and hear about a good chunk of the latest and greatest news in your field. It's a great way to stay current, as well as pick up some new skills or techniques to share with students or other teachers when you get back home.

2. Networking – Simply put, you'll meet other professionals you wouldn't otherwise connect with during the normal course of your teaching career. Conferences bring professionals together from all over the U.S. (and beyond!), and it can be super-helpful to hear from others who do what you do every day. It's a chance to make new friends, establish lasting relationships, find mentors and more.

3. Inspiration – Most dance teachers will find themselves super-energized after being exposed to new ideas, participating in lively discussions and trying out new concepts at a conference. Gathering with others in your field can be just the wind you need in your sails when you're feeling burnt-out or like you've been stuck in a rut. You'll come back with all sorts of things to try out, and more energy to share.

4. Rest – Let's face it—most dance teachers find it hard to come up with a reason to take some time off. Since dance conferences usually require a bit of travel, they can serve as both as both a professional investment—and a much needed break. After all, you don't have to sign up for every session or attend every lecture. You can also build in a bit of time for yourself to catch a movie, read or just relax!

With the New Year right around the corner, why not take a look at the different dance conferences coming up and see if there's one you can attend? Whether it has been a while since you went to one—or it's your first time—you'll come back refreshed and equipped with some new ideas and information you can put right into practice!

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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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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