New Dance Film Addresses Age in Dance

Sections of Fall to Rise were filmed at the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York City.

The impending retirement of New York City Ballet’s 46-year-old star Wendy Whelan (who this morning announced her final performance date), has, over the past few months, sparked many discussions about the inevitable impact of age on a dance career. Fall to Rise takes a dark look at similar themes.

In the film directed by Jayce Bartok, Martha Graham Dance Company’s Katherine Crockett (currently thrilling critics in Queen of the Night) plays the established star and new mother who feels forced out of the spotlight and into domesticity when her artistic director, played by Desmond Richardson, forces her to take time off due to her increasingly troublesome injuries. Throw in an emotionally unsound former company member with a vendetta—Daphne Rubin-Vega, who played Mimi in the original Broadway cast of RENT—and you’ve got the makings of a creepy dance thriller that would make Darren Aronofsky proud.

Fall to Rise premieres this weekend in New York City as part of the First Time Fest. Nine other films will compete, including ballet documentary Getting to The Nutcracker. For more information and tickets, visit firsttimefest.com.

Teachers Trending
Photo by Yvonne M. Portra, courtesy Faulkner

It's a Wednesday in May, and 14 Stanford University advanced modern ­dance students are logged on to Zoom, each practicing a socially distanced duet with an imaginary person. "Think about the quality of their personality and the type of duet you might have," says their instructor Katie Faulkner, "but also their surface area and how you'd relate to them in space." Amid dorm rooms, living rooms, dining rooms and backyards, the dancers make do with cramped quarters and dodge furniture as they twist, curve, stretch and intertwine with their imaginary partners.

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Music
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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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