Millepied to Direct Paris Opera Ballet

Benjamin Millepied has been named director of dance for the Paris Opéra Ballet. He will take the reigns in the fall of 2014, when current director Brigitte Lefèvre retires. The decision comes as a surprise for two reasons:

1. Millepied, though born in France, is an American dancer. He trained at the School of American Ballet, spent nearly 20 years with New York City Ballet and has just launched his own company, California-based L.A. Dance Project. Many expected the traditional POB to choose from their own ranks of retiring dancers or current administrators.

2. Until recently, Millepied has been a freelance, project-based choreographer. He even refers to his fledgling company as more of a “collective” or “program of events,” based largely on collaborations with various artists. (Millepied hopes the troupe will continue without him come 2014.) Working with a large, established company will certainly be a change for the “Black Swan” choreographer’s artistic process.

Millepied told the New York Times that the opportunity came as a shock to him as well. But he has big plans for the POB, from bringing in more guest contemporary choreographers to nurturing choreographic talent from within the company’s ranks. “I think it’s an asset that I have absorbed other traditions and had other experiences in the U.S., which I can bring to the dancers here,” he said. “But of course I have a lot to learn about this company and its very remarkable and specific qualities.”

Photo courtesy of New York City Ballet

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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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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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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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