Gestures Dance Ensemble Celebrates 20 Years

Last night I watched several talented dancers perform an array of work including a Latin number, an upbeat swing piece—choreographed by our former DT cover subjects Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin, and a restaging of Jose Limon’s There Is A Time. Pretty impressive stuff, right? What’s more impressive is that this group consists of only high school students.
    Gestures Dance Ensemble, currently celebrating their 20th year, is the pre-professional dance company of The Harbor Conservatory for the Performing Arts based in Harlem, New York. And leading these talented dancers is Nina Klyvert-Lawson, who, in between numbers, was praised repeatedly for her hard work and dedication by several faculty members. The group also recieved an official letter from New York’s Governor David Paterson, congratulating Klyvert-Lawson and the company on 20 years of enriching New York’s culture.
    Darrel Grand Moultrie, an alumni of Gestures and current cast member of Broadway’s Billy Elliot, spoke about how the conservatory was like home to him, not just an after-school program. He also thanked Klyvert-Lawson for broadening students’ scopes to beyond the inner city.
    Not to worry if you think you missed out—Gestures will return to the Joan Weill Center for Dance in New York on Friday and Saturday to perform again. For more information:

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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