How to Binge-Watch Dance History

 

From the male-female duet playlist: Jacoby & Pronk in Rhapsody Fantaisie, 2010

Dance history nerds, get excited: Jacob’s Pillow just launched its all-new, completely redesigned digital resource website, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Interactive. If you—like me—enjoy browsing archival dance footage and testing your dance history knowledge by taking interactive quizzes, you’re in luck. This website will entertain you for hours—no, weeks. Months, even. This version has it all: It’s completely optimized for every mobile device; it features dance video playlists (all curated by Norton Owen, Jacob’s Pillow’s estimable director of preservation) grouped around themes like “male-female duets” and “immersive dance environments”; and a truly challenging dance history Guess Game (even as DT’s History column editor, I struggled to get a perfect score—over multiple attempts).

And if you’re all history-ed up by this website, imagine how pumped your students will be! A site this interactive promises instant attention-grabbing. Why not binge-watch on some dance?

Screenshot courtesy of Jacob's Pillow Dance Interactive

 

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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