News

Joe Lanteri Tapped to Help Lead Steps on Broadway

Joe Lanteri teaching at Steps in the early 2000s

The iconic New York City dance studio Steps on Broadway has a new leader coming on board: Joe Lanteri. The New York City Dance Alliance founder will be Steps' new co-owner and executive director.

"For me, it's a big full circle," says Lanteri, who used to take class at Steps when he first moved to New York City, and started teaching there in the mid-1980s. The 4:30 p.m. Tuesday/Thursday Advanced Intermediate Jazz slot he held down for many years taught a slew of young talent—including choreographers-to-be like Jessica Lang and Sergio Trujillo. "As a young teacher, Steps was a platform for me to travel the world giving master classes; it became the underlying foundation for what I'm doing now in my life."


Joe Lanteri and Carol Paumgarten at the first annual NYCDAF Bright Lights Shining Start Gala, August 1, 2011, NYU Skirball Center

Steps founder Carol Paumgarten first reached out to Lanteri in February to ask if he'd help her continue the school's legacy. "Carol has made Steps not just an important part of the New York community, but the international dance world," says Lanteri. "This new role is about me bringing new ideas, contacts and energy into the building." Paumgarten will remain a co-owner and director of the school.

Lanteri will be involved in every aspect of the wide-ranging institution, from the open classes to the conservatory program, the visa program, the children's program and the master series. He's already brainstorming what more Steps might be able to do for dancers, such as in-studio performance opportunities in front of industry leaders. "My goal is to augment what Steps already has, and expand the concept of a community that's welcoming to all," he says.

Lanteri will remain executive director of NYCDA, continuing to travel most weekends to regional conventions. "I always love a challenge," he admits. He's hoping that being amongst the next generation of dancers and forming new relationships will only help him create more opportunities for Steps' dancers.

The relationship between Steps and NYCDA isn't new: The school has offered many scholarships to NYCDA dancers over the years, and Steps was one of the original sponsors of the New York City Dance Alliance Foundation College Scholarship Program.

Although Lanteri hasn't yet committed to teaching a regular class again, he won't rule it out. "I always have my dance clothes on me."

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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