Dance and Film Fans Agree: We Love Ballet Behind-the-Scenes

We dancers are lucky the rest of the population has become so interested in our craft. It means there are more outlets for films like Ballet 422, which will be featured in the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival (April 16–April 27).

Originally backed through crowd-funding site HatchfundBallet 422 documents the creation of Justin Peck’s latest work for New York City Ballet. Peck has been in the spotlight since he fulfilled his dream of collaborating with musician Sufjan Stevens and fans and critics went gaga over the results in Year of the Rabbit. Paz de la Jolla, an homage to Peck’s southern California home region and NYCB’s 422nd original ballet, premiered in February to positive reactions. Now audiences will see this promising dancemaker’s process in action, and we could not be more excited about that.

The tantalizing trailer shows the always gorgeous (and increasingly popular with mainstream media) Tiler Peck in rehearsal, plus Justin mapping formations, reviewing footage and discussing his vision with the orchestra. Camera crews were clearly given full access, going everywhere from Justin’s apartment to the costume shop to dress rehearsals and live performances.

The film was conceived by former NYCB soloist and director of media projects Ellen Bar and directed by her husband, filmmaker Jody Lee Lipes. Bar says in the Hatchfund description that she has long dreamed of “pulling back the veil on the making of a new ballet.” We feel the same way, and we cannot wait to see more!

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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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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