Joffrey Ballet School and Fort Hamilton High School Announce a New Partnership in Dance

JBS studentsMove over, Fame! Joffrey Ballet School just announced a partnership with Fort Hamilton High School in Brooklyn to create a dance program within the progressive school’s Urban Arts Department. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held last Friday, October 4, to officially get the partnership under way. (And then the students climbed on top of taxi cabs to clog the streets of New York City and danced gleefully! Just kidding.)

Joffrey Ballet School is currently celebrating its 60th anniversary, dedicating this year to remaining a leader in American dance education—and making this collaboration with Fort Hamilton High School so fitting. Fifty students auditioned for the program and 23 were accepted for the 2013–2014 school year. The Fort Hamilton students will get an hour-and-a-half dance class each day, as well as the opportunity to audition for JBS’ annual Nutcracker production.

Fort Hamilton assistant principal Tom Oberle will oversee the program, which will be directed by Jo Matos, director of JBS’ Children and Young Dancer Programs. Matos hand-selected Joffrey’s Sabrina Jafaar-Melton as teaching artist for the program, and Jafaar-Melton has since spent the past year earning her certification and license to teach dance as part of Fort Hamilton’s faculty.

Photo courtesy of Joffrey Ballet School

Teacher Voices
Photo courtesy Rhee Gold Company

Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, there has been a shift in our community that is so impressive that the impact could last long into our future. Although required school closures have hit the dance education field hard, what if, when looking back on this time, we see that it's been an incredible renaissance for dance educators, studio owners and the young dancers in our charge?

How could that be, you ask?

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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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