Farewell, Fazil's

A chapter in New York City’s dance history came to a close last Thursday when Fazil’s Times Circle Rehearsal Studio closed its doors after 73 years. The ramshackle building in NYC’s Theater District, a longtime haven for hoofers, Broadway performers and flamenco and Middle Eastern dancers, will soon go under the wrecking ball to make way for a new condo/hotel complex—an all-too familiar scenario these days.

Its history was literally etched into the floors (widely praised by tappers as the best-sounding ones in the city) by the likes of Honi Coles, Charles Cook, Eleanor Powell, Gregory Hines and Savion Glover. Alvin Ailey taught there in the late 1950s; it was also where Maria Alba trained Gelsey Kirkland in flamenco. Hines immortalized the studio in his 1989 film, Tap, in which he modeled “Sonny’s” after Fazil’s Studio A-1, known as the Copasetics Room.

“It’s old and in disrepair, but it’s just the place you go,” tap teacher and performer Ray Hesselink told me a few weeks before Fazil’s shut down. “Maybe the dust bunnies are bigger than you, and you might not get toilet paper, but oh well—you can get that at home.”

It’s not clear exactly when the building is scheduled for demolition, but before it goes, co-owner Serpil Civan planned to remove Studio A-1’s storied maple floor and offer former regulars pieces as souvenirs. When the building finally does come down, Civan said she’d like to stage a farewell performance outside: “They can’t bring down this building without a great big dance-off.”

 

 

 

 

Music
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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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