Editor's Note

Each year since 2003, Dance Teacher has recognized top educators in studios, conservatories, the K–12 setting, colleges and universities. Here, we are very pleased to introduce four people who exemplify the passion, commitment and leadership it takes to succeed in this career field: Cindy Gratz, Sean Murphy, Heather Raue and Betty Webster. Their stories will inspire you.


This year Bill Evans receives our highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award. For the cover shoot, we visited Evans in Brockport, New York, where he is visiting professor in the SUNY Brockport dance program. To be in Evans’ presence for more than a few minutes, you begin to understand why dancers and teachers sing his praises. “He has a different concept of the role of teacher than anyone else,” says Brockport interim department head, Jacqueline Davis. “It is teacher as guide, yet learning as well.”


In addition to taking over the tap program while also teaching modern, Evans has developed a graduate-level pedagogy course for Brockport. “It has just been thrilling,” he says. “I see the students go from teaching material, to understanding that they’re guiding the growth of a whole person.”


We caught the last half of his advanced modern technique class that editor Jenny Dalzell describes here. In “How I Teach Modern Dance,” Evans shares a foundational element of his technique: an under-curve with an inversion and spiral. (Because the concept is complex, I suggest you also watch the sequence on video to get the full effect.) In class, we saw what happens when dancers embody these concepts. His students moved with a fullness and sense of buoyancy, and they handled directional changes with ease.


Also included in this issue is the annual Dance Teacher Dance Directory. It contains contact info from the most trusted providers of service and products for your studio, and you’ll want to keep it handy throughout the year.


I hope you’ll join us in NYC for our summer conference, The Dance Teacher Summit, August 2–4. We will present the Dance Teacher Awards at the closing gala on Wednesday, August 4. Register now at 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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