News

4 Dance Works to Be Thankful For (2017 Edition)

The Museum Workout. Photo by Paula Lobo, courtesy of the Met

As you tally up the reasons to be grateful this Thanksgiving, take a moment to reflect on a few of the world premieres that broke new ground this year. Some changed our perspective on dance, and others were just plain fierce, but they all got our attention and inspired our work as dance teachers.


Will Johnston and Marissa Osato's PEEL: This piece won the 2017 Capezio A.C.E. Awards, and for good reason! The dancers demonstrated superlative synchronicity during feats of mind-blowing control on the floor (with glass bowls!).

Lauren Lovette's Not Our Fate: The New York City Ballet principal's second ballet featured an intimate duet for two men—company dancers Taylor Stanley and Preston Chamblee. A rare occurrence in the ballet world, this choreographic choice made both a social statement and an artistic one.

View an excerpt of Not Our Fate here.

Monica Bill Barnes' The Museum Workout: One part museum tour and one part workout routine, this site-specific work led by Barnes and her longtime performance partner Anna Bass has participants experiencing New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art in a whole new way.

Restless Creature: Though not a live dance premiere, we're just as thankful for this documentary about ballet icon Wendy Whelan. The film captures the former NYCB principal as she shifts from her three-decade-long career in ballet to uncharted territory as a freelance contemporary dancer.

Didn't see your favorite 2017 premiere on the list? Tell us which dance works you're grateful for this year.

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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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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