Editor's Note

The school year may be winding down, but dance studios everywhere are abuzz with activity in May: rehearsals for year-end recitals, competition teams preparing for nationals and tap dancers celebrating the birthday of Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. In this issue, Dance Teacher salutes National Tap Dance Day with a lineup of inspiring tap stories, from the gorgeous Roxane Butterfly sharing her Jimmy Slyde influence, to the annual Flo-Bert Awards, to a pair of enterprising sisters who started an after-school tap program in Minnesota.


Regardless of whether your students grow up to favor tap, ballet, jazz, hip hop or modern, it all starts with creative movement. To help nurture your youngest students, Donna Aravena of Seven Star School in Brewster, New York, offers tips on how to effectively grow a preschool program; writer and NYU-ABT Pedagogy program grad Hannah Maria Hayes talks to experts about how to use props to help with coordination; and Eileen Juric’s new DVD, The Children’s Hour of Power, demonstrates the pre-ballet program developed by Dorothy Lister during her tenure at the Joffrey Ballet School.


As if May weren’t busy enough, it’s also the time to make your continuing education plans for the summer. “Lifetime Learners,” a supplement to this issue, is a great source of programs designed specifically for teachers. In particular, we invite you to join us for the Dance Teacher Summit, July 29–31. Among our diverse faculty this year are tappers Greg Russell, Mike Minery and Anthony Morigerato; plus Annie and Beverly Spell return with the latest in creative movement curriculum ideas, and Katy Spreadbury reprises her popular “Ballet for Babies.” And that’s only a small sampling. If you’re looking to master a new technique or instruction style, build your studio business, peruse the latest products and services to support your career and compare notes with your peers from around the country, we’ve got it all. We hope to see you in New York City. For more information and registration, go to www.danceteachersummit.com.

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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 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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