In Memorium: Georgina Parkinson

Georgina Parkinson, ballet mistress at American Ballet Theatre, passed away in December at 71. Born in Brighton, England, Parkinson started her dance career at age 15 and joined The Royal Ballet in 1957. She was known for her solid technique and strong dramatic abilities, especially in Kenneth MacMillan’s narrative ballets. She created many roles while with the company, including Rosaline in MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet, Winifred Norbury in Sir Frederick Ashton’s Enigma Variations and Girl in Blue in Bronislava Nijinska’s masterpiece, Les Biches.

In 1978, Parkinson was appointed ballet mistress at ABT, where she taught and coached the company for more than 30 years. She continued to perform, and roles with ABT included the Stepmother in Agnes DeMille’s Fall River Legend, Madame Larina in Onegin and Lady Capulet in Romeo and Juliet. She also created the role of Mrs. Harriman in Twyla Tharp’s Everlast and a leading role in Robert Hill’s Reverie.

“She was a ‘character’ at ABT who was woven into the fabric of our identity,” says Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie. “She was bluntly forthright, but it was masked in this wonderfully neurotic necessity to make sure that everyone was the best that they could be. In the three generations of dancers she supported, there’s a certain group that will miss her like a mother and another group that will miss her as a force.”

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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