Fit, Not Fat

“All for one and one for all.” That’s a motto dancers should live by in today’s harsh world—and it seems to be working for the stars of the current season of “Dancing with the Stars.” The contestants have been rallying in support of Cheryl Burke after several bloggers referred to her as “fat.” Clearly, anyone in his or her right mind can see that Burke—a size four—is anything but overweight. She’s healthy and content with her size, which is what’s important.
    “Cheryl is a very level-headed girl. Obviously, the comments were hurtful, but she can rise above that stuff. She’s a very classy, strong woman and ultimately she didn’t let it get to her,” says fellow DWTS dancer Kym Johnson in an interview for People Magazine. “Cheryl’s body is incredible. Everybody comments on how she looks and how beautiful her body is. I found it really bizarre [that] people were saying stuff like that.”
Actor Cristian de la Fuente, Burke’s season six partner, also commented in the People article: “We live in a very plastic society where everybody needs to be a size zero. If somebody gains five or 10 pounds it’s not a crime,” de la Fuente says. “It’s life.”
Comments like these are nice to see after such scathing remarks, and even non-dancers are defending Burke. Irene Rubaum-Keller, a columnist for The Huffington Post, penned an open letter to the star. “With everything that is going on in the world today,” she wrote, “it is hard to believe that your five pounds are making such a big splash.”
    I couldn’t agree more with Rubaum-Keller. Dance educators take note: You have a special responsibility to encourage a healthy diet and exercise to students, rather than having perfect abs and being a size zero. Consider talking to students about the media’s obsession with weight and use Burke as a positive example of someone willing to take a stand. I wouldn’t be surprised if Burke used these comments to fuel her passion for dance and win this season of the show!

Teacher Voices
Photo courtesy Rhee Gold Company

Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, there has been a shift in our community that is so impressive that the impact could last long into our future. Although required school closures have hit the dance education field hard, what if, when looking back on this time, we see that it's been an incredible renaissance for dance educators, studio owners and the young dancers in our charge?

How could that be, you ask?

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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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