Quick tips for Recital Quick-Changes

Set up a quick-change booth on the side of the stage.

Anyone with a fast change—fewer than three numbers between dances—sets up a paper bag with the quick-change costume, clearly labeled. "We determine all the quick changes beforehand," says Carole Royal of Royal Dance Works in Phoenix. "We usually have enough room for eight people in the booth." Two veteran adults are in charge of the actual changing. No such booth at your venue? Just put up curtains with some PVC pipe on the side stage.

It's all about under-layering, training and strategic tools.

Dancers must layer undergarments correctly (so that tights, for example, can be stripped off to reveal those required for the next number). If it's a mom's first time quick-changing, pair her with an old-timer. "Choose moms who are calm in nature and work well under stress—no Nervous Nellies!" warns former studio owner Danie Beck. "We have one mom work on the top of the body and the other concentrate on the bottom, and eventually they meet in the middle." She suggests having everything a changer could possibly need at her fingertips at each quick-change station, like a hand stapler and scissors.

Tip: Put your babies in white ankle socks and underwear instead of tights. Joanne Chapman of Joanne Chapman School of Dance in Brampton, Ontario, swears it'll save you time spent wrangling toddlers in and out of tights between numbers. "Plus, since you're not stripping them naked, you don't get the drama from parents of, 'No one's changing my child but myself!'" she says.

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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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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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