“There’s nothing solo about the solo.” —Leah Cox

A bright point in our January doldrums was the American Dance Festival winter intensive, where we got to meet Leah Cox. You may remember Cox as the audacious dancer with the shaved head who performed with Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company from 2001 to 2009. Not only did ADF’s new dean enthrall us with her moves during our cover shoot, we learned that her intellect is just as lithe as her physique. Here are just a few of the stimulating tidbits Cox tossed out during her composition class that day:

“Use the tools of cinema. Jump cut to close-up. Pan out. It’s not about continuous movement phrasing.”

“We are both particle and wave. In physics—space, time and relationship—there is no emphasis on being creative.”

“Be in the space. Ignore the mirror—don’t do the dancer thing where you kind of look.”

Just as “there’s nothing solo about the solo” in dance composition, you are not alone when it comes to running your studio business. The topics we address in our Special Section this issue have inspired animated discussions each summer at our Dance Teacher Summit. There is much we can learn from each other, and in that spirit, we share “Best Practices for Studio Management.”

And we’d like to hear from you as well. Write me at khildebrand@dancemedia.com, and let me know how you’ve adapted to changing times and technology. Even better—tell us in person. Join us at the Dance Teacher Summit: July 29–31, NYC, or Aug 5–7 in Long Beach, California. Details at danceteachersummit.com.

Photo by Matthew Murphy

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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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