Music Picks: Physical Funk

After choreographing for movies like You Got Served, Stomp the Yard and Step Up 2: The Streets, as well as for TV’s “So You Think You Can Dance,” Dave Scott is no small presence in the industry—and not just because he’s 6' 4".

Despite his successes, which include winning the 10th Annual American Choreography Award for Outstanding Achievement in a Feature Film for 2004’s You Got Served, he continues to teach dance across the country while on tour with The PULSE. As if that’s not enough to keep him busy, Scott will also be a featured choreographer on the upcoming season of “Dancing with the Stars” and is working on two films due to hit theaters this year.

“I always want to impress and be top-notch,” says Scott. “I try to take myself outside of myself, to become the audience and think about what’s going to give them that wow factor.” Here are some of the tunes that Scott turns to for inspiration. DT

Arist: Chris Brown

Song/Album: "Forever,” Exclusive (The Forever Edition)

“ I think ‘Forever’ has a futuristic vibe. I want to hit hard and create an android/human choreography.”

Artist: Mario

Song/Album: “Skippin,” Go

"‘Skippin’ gives me the feeling of being in a boy band. I can see lots of intricate moves that are balanced out with grooves.”

Artist: 112

Song/Album: “U Already Know,” Pleasure & Pain (clean version)

“ The lyrics and bass line of this song make me want to use the body in the most sexy way to tell the story.”

Artist: Robin Thicke

Song/Album: “Magic,” Something Else 

(Deluxe Edition)

"‘Magic’ has a funky old-school vibe; it’s the kind of song that makes you happy just listening to it. I want to choreograph so it looks like you’re dancing purely for the fun of it.”

Artist: T-Pain feat. Lil Wayne

Song/Album: “Can’t Believe It” (clean version), Thr33 Ringz

“ This song tells an elaborate story, so I try to tell the same story through motion—you can cut the music off and watch me dance and still know exactly what I’m saying.”

Getty Images

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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