Five Opportunities for Professional Development, Express Delivery to Your Living Room

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It can be tricky to get away for a conference, whether due to travel budget concerns or finding a substitute to cover your absence. One silver lining of the pandemic is that five conferences are now available online, no travel necessary. You'll find sessions to address your concerns no matter what your role in the dance community—whether you're on the business side, interested in curriculum development, need continuing ed certification, or a performer who wants to teach. Why not gather colleagues from your studio or school for an educational watch party to inspire you as you launch into the new school year?

First Annual UNITY Leadership Conference

August 8–9; $125

UNITY promotes cooperation among dance organizations and addresses certification and standards for dance education. This inaugural leadership conference offers 13 sessions that cover both teaching and management topics. You'll hear from industry leaders such as Rhee Gold and Susan McGreevy-Nichols—plus a Dance Teacher session featuring Gina Gibney. All videos and materials will be available for 60 days after the conference.

Two sessions of note:

  • "Encouraging a More Diverse Membership" (LaShonda Chaney and Janine Hart)
  • "Thinking Big as a Dance Studio Owner" (Karen Hildebrand talks with Gina Gibney)

Register here

ConQuest, a Virtual Conference for Dance Professionals

August 14–16; free

Geared to dance studio owners and other professionals who work in the studio space, this conference was designed specifically for distance learning and includes workshops, panels, roundtable sessions, master classes and a special program for dancers under 18. Plus, Dance Teacher will be hosting a workshop on "Dismantling Racism in the Dance Studio and Beyond."

Two sessions of note:

  • "Why I Trashed the Trophies: How to Make Meaningful Disruption in Your Dance Studio" (Chasta Hamilton)
  • "Parent Solutions: How to Take the Complaints of Your Clients and Turn Them Into Gold" (Kerrin Michaels)

Register here

Dance Educators Training Institute (DETI)

August 17–19; $100

Co-presented by ClancyWorks Dance Company and Baltimore County Public Schools, DETI offers four workshops on each of the three days, with topics such as teaching online, racial equity, somatics, composition and technique.

Two sessions of note:

  • "Building Racial Equity: Creating Space for Productive Conversations About Race" (Rajeeyah Finnie-Myers of Race Forward)
  • "Managing Your Virtual Classroom: Netiquette" (Stephanie Crockett of Baltimore County Public Schools and Darryl Pilate of Prince George's County Public Schools)

5th Annual International Teaching Artists Conference (ITAC5)

September 14–17; $200 ($50 options for artists impacted by COVID-19 pandemic)

Teaching artists from 19 countries will present a fascinating array of topics in more than 40 sessions. Each day has a theme: Tuesday: Unlearning; Wednesday: Local & Nomadic Practices; Thursday: Peace & Reconciliation.

Two sessions of note:

  • "Creative Unlearning: Embracing Ambiguity" (Dana L. Squires)
  • "Teaching Chinese Dance in a Global Community—Practices and Challenges" (Ling Tang)

Register here

National Dance Education Organization (NDEO)

October 23–25; $50–$195

NDEO hosts one of the largest annual dance education conferences in the U.S. This year's theme is "Dance and Society: Developing Community, Empathy, and Understanding through Dance." Details of the conference program to be announced soon.

Register here

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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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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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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