Teaching Tips

Not Teaching This Week? An Ideal Time to Tackle Some Small Projects at Home

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With studio closures and shelter-in-place restrictions throughout the country this week due to COVID-19 concerns, dancers are putting creative skills to use in a myriad of new ways with each given day and new scenario. If you are stuck at home, consider a few of these projects that frequently get pushed down our long "to do" lists.


UPDATE

This week can be the time to update your resumé or CV. Months and years easily slip by without documenting your latest accomplishments. Consider all of the categories: teaching, master classes, performances, choreography, workshops (which you lead or attended), writing, grants and service work. In addition, update your bio and sketch out a few bio options for quick reference in the future; write three different versions (one paragraph, three sentences and one sentence). Then, take a few minutes to share these new bios with each of your employers (as they might be using their time this week to update their websites).

As for your own website, revisit and refresh each page with new text and photos. Or, it might finally be time to create your own simple website that you have wanted for so long. If you are launching into website creation, first take an hour to glance at colleagues' websites. What categories do they use on their sites? What key information is on the homepage? Check out artists Audrey Johnson and Brandon Cournay as a starting point. There are many website tools and templates easily available on the web, such as Wix and Squarespace.

REVISIT

Music is so essential to our work, and variety is key for teachers and students alike. One idea for this week is to go back through your music library on your computer to revisit music you have purchased and downloaded in the past few years. Spend your hours at home enjoying some of this music and create some new playlists for your upcoming classes.

JOIN

Dance service organizations are highly valuable to find out about jobs, funding, relevant articles and research, online forums to discuss teaching questions and national conferences for professional development and collegiality. Consider joining the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO) for $115 a year and Dance/USA for $100/year. If you file taxes as a freelance artist, you can write off these yearly fees.

READ

These four websites offer a wealth of resources and information to apply to your teaching work. Check out:

Center for Childhood Creativity for research on early childhood education and learning environments to develop creativity.

Greater Good Science Center for articles on mindfulness education and social-emotional learning, plus pieces about workplace culture.

Edutopia for reading material on classroom management, growth mind-set, arts integration and teacher burnout.

CompassPoint for posts about the business side of running organizations with topics such as leadership, finances, equity and interpersonal communication.

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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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 onstageblog.com, 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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