Watch Baryshnikov Dress Like a Hipster and Dance With Lil Buck

The main thing to understand here is that Mikhail Baryshnikov can do no wrong. I don’t think I’m being overly effusive when I say that everything he touches turns to gold. I’m going to purchase the entire Rag & Bone winter collection because of this video, and it’s a men’s line.

Don’t misunderstand–the young king of Memphis jookin’ is fantastic in the clothing company’s new film. It's more his venue, really, and Lil Buck does his thing, moving like he has no bones and doesn’t need to abide by gravity’s rules. But the first time I watched, I missed some of Buck’s best choreography because I was too busy watching 67-year-old Misha sitting in a chair. That’s how well this man commands his audience.

Baryshnikov is downright goofy for much of the video. He practices glides and some mild popping, presenting more of a tipsy, Jack-Sparrow swagger than street swagger. But he's so self-aware that he pulls it off. And when he stares into the camera with that disgruntled Russian look of his, you can't help but stare back.

When they move together, the two men have crazy performing chemistry. The best part is just past the two-minute mark, when they cross into each other’s space for the first time and start really letting loose.

In the end, the scene transitions to a theatrical setting with the dancers seated at a chessboard. Baryshnikov ends it with a mic-drop moment, as if to say, “You may be the rising star, but I’m the living legend.” And Lil Buck doesn’t seem to have a problem with that.

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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Teaching Tips
Getty Images

After months of lockdowns and virtual learning, many studios across the country are opening their doors and returning to in-person classes. Teachers and students alike have likely been chomping at the bit in anticipation of the return of dance-class normalcy that doesn't require a reliable internet connection or converting your living room into a dance space.

But along with the back-to-school excitement, dancers might be feeling rusty from being away from the studio for so long. A loss of flexibility, strength and stamina is to be expected, not to mention emotional fatigue from all of the uncertainty and reacclimating to social activities.

So as much as everyone wants to get back to normal—teachers and studio owners included—erring on the side of caution with your dancers' training will be the most beneficial approach in the long run.

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