Meet AXIS Dance Company's New Executive Director

Axis Dance Company (Photo by David DeSilva, courtesy of AXIS)

Robin Anderson has been named executive director of AXIS Dance Company. She and AXIS artistic director Marc Brew (hired last year) replace founder and longtime executive/artistic director Judith Smith, who is stepping down due to health issues. Anderson has been with AXIS—an integrated-ability dance company in Oakland, California, that incorporates dancers with and without physical disabilities—as engagement director for the past three years.

Robin AndersonPhoto by David DeSilva (courtesy of AXIS)

Prior to her time with AXIS, she spent seven years as director at Alonzo King LINES Dance Center. Anderson says she plans to expand AXIS' identity in Oakland by building and expanding corporate and nonprofit partnerships. "We want the city to acknowledge AXIS as a cultural jewel and entity of the city," she says. "Corporations have so much to gain by associating themselves with the visual brand of this company, which is inclusion. We would love to see our images on billboards and public transportation. They are so powerful, and they show that movement can break down the barrier of difference."

Anderson and Brew are also hoping to produce seasons globally, from New York City to the UK and more. "It's important that the world sees our work. We are helping people accept dancers on their artistry rather than their disabilities," she says.

AXIS wraps up its 30th-anniversary season with performances in San Francisco at the Z Space, May 4–6.

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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, 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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