Looking Back to Move Forward

It hardly seems possible that with this issue we bid farewell to 2015. The Dance Teacher team is working on some exciting plans for 2016. But before we officially turn the page, we wanted to reflect on some of our favorite projects of this year.

When we first talked with Gina Gibney, the space at 280 Broadway was still under construction. Now the building is filled with dancers seven days a week, and the Gibney Dance Center has become an institution we can’t remember living without. I admire Gina so much as a businessperson and visionary. What she’s done for NYC dancers is exceptional. Karen Hildebrand, Editor in Chief

The unstoppable Jared Grimes is hands-down my favorite this year. From the smile on his face and his feet leaving the ground in that cover shot, you get a real sense of the way he can move and the joy he takes in his dancing. In the article, we learn he’s persevered for a decade to become a tap dancer on Broadway and won’t stop working on his craft. You can’t beat a guy who combines perspiration and inspiration. Joe Sullivan, Managing Editor

Writing our story on Camille A. Brown and her outreach project, Black Girl Spectrum, was both eye-opening and joyous. Plus, the shoot itself was a hoot! So much dancing, so many bright colors, so many great girls. Then everything came full circle for me at the opening-night performance of Black Girl: Linguistic Play at The Joyce—seeing how material from the project took root in Camille’s athletic, hard-hitting movement felt magical. Rachel Rizzuto, Assistant Editor

Lea Marshall did a wonderful job with our September modern-dance roundup featuring Elena Demyanenko. Great (and sometimes hilarious) anecdotes! And it was so satisfying to see photos of the teachers juxtaposed with archival photos from the past. I loved that Elena’s opening pose perfectly embodied Trisha Brown in Water Motor (1978).

Rachel Caldwell, Assistant Editor

I love Dana Foglia’s drive and how passionate she is about continuing her own growth and sharing what she’s learned on her journey with dancers who hope to have commercial careers. Her acknowledgment that the performance aspect of a dance career isn’t always fulfilling resonated with me, and I love that she found a different way to channel her love for dance. Alyssa Marks, Assistant Editor

I loved watching Tammi Shamblin’s class at this month’s cover shoot. When her students tumbled in at the beginning of class, they were typical fifth-grade boys—goofing around. But when class started, they suddenly turned into serious ballet students. Tammi kept them engaged the entire time. Plus, the shoot gave us an abundance of great photos to choose from for our cover and layout! —Emily Giacalone, Art Director

Wishing you a joyous holiday season,

The Dance Teacher editorial team

Photo by Matthew Murphy; cover photos (top to bottom) by Christopher Duggan; Matthew Murphy (2);  Julieta Cervantes; Joe Toreno; Kyle Froman

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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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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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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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