Just for fun

5 Dance Performances to Get You Excited for the 4th of July

While it's certainly a polarizing time in U.S. politics, one thing we can all get behind is fabulous dancing. Set to a range of American themes, these five pieces include the kind of performances that we LIVE for. Watch them to get pumped for whatever rad Independence Day activities you have planned this week. Hopefully a dance party is on your agenda and you can bust out one of these award-winning moves.

Let us know what you think, and tell us over on our Facebook page if we missed any other America-themed, dance-centric videos!

1. Stars and Stripes

In this ballet, George Balanchine pays homage to his adopted country. Traditionally performed by the New York City Ballet around the fourth of July, it's about as patriotic as it gets!

2. West Side Story's "America"

The dancing is pure magic! We could literally watch this ALL day long.

(The piece dances back and forth between a love for America and a criticism of anti-immigrant prejudice—a topical number for current times.)

3. "This Is America"

Rapper Childish Gambino (also known as Donald Glover) broke the internet with this visceral music video about gun violence in America. If you haven't seen it already, this is a must-watch. Choreographer Sherrie Silver did an excellent job.

4. Alvin Ailey's Revelations

As stated in this 2017 article, "[Revelations] is a powerful piece of dance that reflects African-American heritage and culture and takes the viewer on an emotional journey, from sorrow to elation to hope." We can't overemphasize this enough: WATCH THIS.

5. Footloose Line Dance

What screams American more than a country line dance set in middle America? Julianne Hough and Kenny Wormwald are a dance match made in heaven, and we can't help but jam out with them to this bad boy!

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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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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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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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