Paul Taylor Summer Intensive Showcase

Last Friday, I attended the Paul Taylor Summer Intensive lecture demonstration at New York City’s LaGuardia High School. Every Friday, students have an opportunity to demonstrate the repertoire they’ve learned in an informal showcase. Students learn original repertoire from former Paul Taylor and Taylor II company dancers.


At this week’s showing, students performed exerts from Taylor’s Runes (1975), Esplanade (1975), Images (1977) and Aureole (1962). These selections were so interesting because they showed different aspects of Taylor’s technique. Runes, a collaboration with composer Gerald Busby, is a ritualistic dance that repeats movement to emphasize the nature of a ritual. The second piece, Esplanade, utilizes a lot of pedestrian movement, including lots of running and leaping. The dance features a good mix of chaos and structure, keeping the audiences’ wandering eyes from leaving the dancers. Images, was inspired by flat, Byzantine paintings, focusing on the unique shapes and curves created by the dancer’s bodies. The last piece, Aureole, with its springing jumps and parallel glissades reminded me of classical ballet. All the pieces focused on various aspects of modern dance technique, ranging from floorwork to jumps, making each piece a special testament to itself. Repertory instructor Susan McGuire pointed out that many of the pieces played around with gender roles, challenging students to play with movement and character roles that they may not normally get to perform. eol


Students were selected to perform in one of the pieces, and each piece had three casts. While the thought of watching each piece three times seems like a chore, it was actually quite fascinating to see how each cast brought the dances to life. Each of the casts brought something new to each dance, from solid technical precision, to poignant, expressive movement.


Tom Patrick, one of the repertory instructors, said that words are key when teaching this technique to young students. He emphasized that dancers need to “understand the shape of the music and not just dance to counts.”


For young students just learning this technique, Patrick feels that Taylor technique is incredibly useful for young dancers entering today’s competitive field.
“Taylor treats the body in so many ways, “ said Patrick. “From floorwork, to springing feet and ‘weird’ dances, Taylor keeps the dancer from dancing clichés. They will be able to adapt to different styles.”



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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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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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