News: And the NYIBC Ilona Copen Award Goes to…

Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux and Patricia McBride danced together with New York City Ballet for the first time in 1970, and it was a match made in ballet heaven. He, a dashing Paris Opéra Ballet dancer, and she, Balanchine’s muse for 19 ballets, fell in love and have been a team ever since. They now lead North Carolina Dance Theatre and its professional school, as well as the summer dance program of the Chautauqua Institute in New York.


This month the New York International Ballet Competition (NYIBC) will honor the couple with the first ever Ilona Copen Award, named for NYIBC’s founder who passed away in February 2010. “Bonnefoux and McBride have provided young ballet dancers with the finest educational and cultural experiences,” says NYIBC executive director Jacques Burgering. “These elements were so important to Ilona and are crucial for the NYIBC competition as a whole.”


The gala at NYU’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts will also include performances by American Ballet Theatre, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Limón Dance Company, New Jersey Ballet, the Joffrey Ballet and others, as well as an excerpt of Beyond the Gold, a documentary about NYIBC that features Copen. Info:


Photo: McBride and Bonnefoux on the January 2008 cover of DT (by Roger Ball)

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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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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