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What Parsons Dancer Zoey Anderson Says College Did for Her Dance Career

Zoey Anderson. Photo by Vanessa Rae Merrill, courtesy of Anderson

The decision to go to college is often difficult for aspiring professional dancers to make, but for Zoey Anderson, attending Marymount Manhattan College made all the difference in achieving her goals. Aside from the great education that she says honed her technique and refined her artistry, Anderson was able to meet MMC Dance Department chair, Katie Langan, who was instrumental in helping her book her first post-college job with Parsons Dance.


"During my last year of college, I was really worried about what I was going to do next with dance. I didn't know how I was going to accomplish everything I wanted to. Katie taught me that word of mouth and letters of recommendation are really important for booking jobs. It's helpful if someone can say, 'Hey, this girl is good for your company—see what she has to offer you.' Thankfully she was able to do that for me. I would go into her office and we would talk about the main companies and things I was interested in, and she helped me make decisions. If she felt like I wasn't a good fit for a company, she would be honest, and steer me another way. Because Parsons was a goal of mine, and it had so many alums form Marymount, she knew exactly what I was getting into and was able to tell me what to expect. She talked to the right people about me, and invited them to our gala. Having her help made all the difference."

Watch Anderson perform with Parsons Dance, Monday, January 15, at the Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP) at City Center in NYC.

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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