Music for Class: Arturo Fernandez

Music for ballet class

At first glance, Arturo Fernandez’s ballet class seems like any other. But by the end of barre, the dancers have explored their complete range of motion, transitioning between parallel and turnout. In center, he asks dancers to change their facing and begin to use more expressive, contemporary port de bras. “Ballet always seems to be about the legs, but it’s important to use your whole body,” says Fernandez, ballet master at Alonzo King LINES Ballet, who teaches at the LINES Dance Center and warms up the company on tour. “Sometimes people forget that. Even the company does.”

Though Fernandez is classically trained, he spent over a decade performing with San Francisco modern dance troupe ODC. That experience helped him identify what some bunheads lack—an articulation of certain body parts and a sense of spontaneity. “In modern, I found that I was using a lot of muscles that I didn’t ever use in classical ballet, as well as the brain,” he says. “I try to marry ballet and modern because I want my dancers to have the freedom to improvise and experiment, even in technique class.” DT

Ballet Basics

Artist: Lynn Stanford

Album: Music for a Ballet Class

Artist: Robert Long

Album: Ballet Etudes: Music for Classroom Use and Private Study

“These aren’t always very interesting, but they really set dancers up for a solid class. They’re basic, but grounding.”

Rhythm and Timing

Artist: Rudy Apffel

Album: Music for Ballet Class, Vol. 3

Artist: Daniel Boudewyns

Album: Beautiful Music for Ballet Class, Vol. 1

“These CDs are traditional but give you a great sense of rhythm. Many of the tracks are long enough so that you can do both sides of the combination without stopping. Rudy has some up-tempo stuff that really gives you a sense of rhythm. Daniel has some great grand battement songs—you can really feel the downbeat.”

Creative Freedom

Artist: Ellina Akimova

Album: Music for Ballet Class IV

Artist: Aly Tejas

Album: Music from Within: a Tribute to Martha Mahr

“Ellina’s CD gives me a wonderful feeling when I create combinations—there is so much space inside the music and more freedom for the dancers to play. Aly’s tracks are really short, but so beautiful and heartfelt. It’s great to use before a performance because the songs bring out a lot of emotion from the beginning.”

Photo courtesy of Arturo Fernandez

Teacher Voices
Photo courtesy Rhee Gold Company

Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, there has been a shift in our community that is so impressive that the impact could last long into our future. Although required school closures have hit the dance education field hard, what if, when looking back on this time, we see that it's been an incredible renaissance for dance educators, studio owners and the young dancers in our charge?

How could that be, you ask?

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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
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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