In Memoriam: February 2011

Zena Rommett, the creator of Floor-Barre, died in November at age 90. A pioneer of injury prevention and rehabilitation, Rommett danced on Broadway in Billy Rose’s Seven Lively Arts with Alicia Markova and Anton Dolin, and she toured Europe with the United States Overseas (USO), the Radio City Rockettes Corps de Ballet and the Rutloff Trio. She started her teaching career at Robert Joffrey’s American Ballet Center for three years before opening her own NYC studio known as Oasis of Dance. There she originated Floor-Barre, training dancers lying on their backs (as opposed to at the barre). The technique, which stresses alignment and muscle lengthening, earned her the respect of the medical profession. Rommett remained active, teaching her Floor-Barre technique at Steps on Broadway until just three months before her death.


Richard Ellis, who ran the Ellis-Du Boulay School of Ballet in Chicago, died in November at age 92. Ellis danced with the Vic-Wells Ballet in London (which became the Sadler’s Wells Company) and then The Royal Ballet, partnering with greats such as Margot Fonteyn and Moira Shearer. He came to Chicago with his wife, ballerina Christine Du Boulay, in 1950 to found their school, where they taught together for 40 years.

Teachers Trending
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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