Music for Class: Kiesha Lalama

Music to help dancers develop their personal movement voices

The first year of college can be a struggle for dancers because their beliefs on technique and movement are often flipped upside down. “College is really about deprogramming them,” says Kiesha Lalama, associate jazz professor at Point Park University in Pittsburgh. “A lot of freshmen come in with an extensive competition background, which lends itself to a very particular style.” To introduce an alternative to acting out song lyrics, Lalama uses live percussive accompaniment throughout most of the students’ first year. Recorded music with lyrics makes its way into the classroom late second semester.

The Luigi- and Giordano-trained Lalama says she’s ultimately trying to help her students become individuals. “If you try to ‘fit the mold,’ you’re never going to understand what makes you unique,” she says. “Discovering your own voice is important in understanding how to market yourself.” DT

Music Without Words

Artist: So Percussion

Album: Amid the Noise

 

 

 

Artist: Head Full of Drums

Album: Drum Circle Around the World

 

 

 

“Out of 22 freshmen this year, only two have danced to a live accompanist. Percussion allows students to find their sense of movement—it eliminates personal style and makes them learn how to dance from their soul and not allow lyrics to impose ideas. Music with lyrics can act as a safety net.”

 

Acoustic Tracks

Artist: Kat Edmonson

Album: Way Down Low

 

 

 

Artist: Greg Laswell

Song: “Take Everything”

 

 

 

“Acoustic songs are great for warm-up. You can really enjoy the tempo. It relaxes your body and allows you to be, I don’t want to say healthier, but less forced with your movement. And it sets a feel-good tone for class.”

 

Up-tempo Tunes

Artist: Mumford & Sons

Song: “I Will Wait”

 

 

 

Artist: James Brown

Song: “Get Up Offa That Thing”

 

 

 

“Motown and soul seem to be my go-to. I love that they allow you to really celebrate music and dance. And I can’t get enough of Mumford & Sons. Their new album is brilliant. It’s full of raw passion and the music is so driving.”

 

 

Photo by Robert McKee, courtesy of Kiesha Lalama

Teacher Voices
Photo courtesy Rhee Gold Company

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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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