Ask the Experts: Incorporating Social Media


Q: My students are begging me to incorporate social media into their assignments. What are your thoughts on and ideas for using it in the classroom?

A: Though I tend to be wary of using social media in education, a couple of ideas do come to mind. I saw a very interesting presentation at the National Dance Education Organization conference last October. Sharon McCaman presented a workshop about using Instagram to make and share dance videos. The app has a built-in video function, but you must shoot sequentially. For this to work, McCaman encourages the students to storyboard their dances and choose their framing carefully. They can then choose whether or not to share their work. Though there are certainly better apps for shooting and editing video on tablets and phones, your students' familiarity with Instagram means they can get right to work without needing much of a tutorial. For an extra challenge, you can try the same exercise with Snapchat, an app that lets you record video for 10 seconds at a time. The time limit encourages dancers to be clear and precise with their choices.

Social media can be a powerful advocacy tool for your program. You can give parents, administrators and other educators a peek into your classroom. Plus, it can encourage other students to join your program, having seen your work. Perhaps best of all, once students get into the habit of making dances in class using social media, they may continue the creativity on their own.

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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, 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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