"Bright Lights Shining Stars" Gala

Last night's New York City Dance Alliance Foundation gala was uplifting, spirited and star studded, to say the least. Since the organization's inception two years ago, it has awarded more than $1 million in college scholarships to 100 plus dancers. It was fantastic to hear that these kids were being given the tools to take them through their next leg of training, like Utah dancer Mattie Love, who just started her freshman year at Marymount Manhattan College. Snaps to NYCDA and all its dancers and supporters!

It was equally as fantastic to witness why these kids deserve recogntion, as 19 of this year's scholarship recipients performed a number choreographed by NYCDA faculty Andy Pellick. They danced right before the pros: Complexions, Ballet Hispanico, ABT and Ballet Next. NYCB's Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild in Christopher Wheeldon's Mercurial Manoeuvers were my favorite of the evening—I still cannot fathom Peck's artistic abilities at her age. Oh, and did I mention that the two are NYCDA alums? Who knows, the next big dance talent could be one of those scholarship winners we saw take the stage.

The evening capped off with the oh so fabulous Liza Minnelli presenting the Ambassador for the Arts award to everyone's favorite danseur—Mikhail Baryshnikov. He was funny, witty, suave—pretty much everything you'd expect him to be. And he stole my heart without even having to pirouette his way in.

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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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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