A Fresh Start

We may not have a woman in the Oval Office, but we do have a much-admired female leader in Washington in the form of Julie Kent. We've been following with great interest her actions as the new artistic director of The Washington Ballet. One of her first decisions was to invite Xiomara Reyes to become head of the venerable Washington School of Ballet.

The school has a storied past. Co-founded by Mary Day and directed by her from 1944 to 2003, presidential daughters Chelsea Clinton and Caroline Kennedy were both students there. While Day trained dancers who went on to highly visible careers outside TWB (Kevin McKenzie, Amanda McKerrow, Virginia Johnson and Patrick Corbin, to name a few), Kent has more ambitious goals. A strong school that offers a pathway into the company is a vital part of the vision. However, in “New in Town" Reyes makes it clear that TWSB is a place where not only pre-professional students will thrive.

Are your students making plans for their summer intensives? One of the ways I gauge the state of dance-studio business is by the size of our annual Summer Study Guide. This year, we have 16 pages of opportunities for you and your students—offerings that span the full spectrum of dance styles, with choices for technique, repertory, conditioning, history, wellness and much more. There truly is something for every dancer in this valuable resource.

Frederic M. Seegal, CEO, DanceMedia

Dance Teacher recently changed ownership. Here's a message from our new CEO:

“I'm excited by the opportunity to help the DanceMedia team, because this is an exciting time for dance. Never before has dance (and dancers) been in the public and media eye the way it is today, and, as a result, the needs of both dancers and dance companies are changing dramatically. The need for a trusted voice is more important than ever. We plan to continue to be at the center of it all and over time to extend our extraordinary magazines into the same position in the digital world.

“A little about me: Vice chairman of Peter J. Solomon Company, I have made my career advising major media, telecom and internet clients. I have a passion for the performing arts and have committed my time accordingly. I have served as president of American Ballet Theatre's Board of Trustees, and as trustee for New York City Center, San Francisco Symphony and San Francisco Opera.

“The one thing I've learned from my experience is that people come to dance because of the dancers. Our mission is to make sure dancers are recognized, educated and rewarded. Without you there would be no dance."

From top: photo by Matthew Murphy; courtesy of Seegal

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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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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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