News

Thousands of Dancers Will Flood NYC Streets to Celebrate "The Cabaret of Life"

Roughly, 10,000 dancers to perform 80 unique styles down the streets of New York at the parade. Photo by Joon Shin, courtesy of NYC Dance Parade

Dance Parade New York presents its 12th annual parade and festival, May 19, in New York City. The parade route is one and a half miles, with an expected 10,000 dancers performing more than 80 unique styles. Dance Parade executive director Greg Miller gives us the scoop on the big event.


Dance Teacher: Tell us what inspired the theme of this year's parade—"The Cabaret of Life."

Greg Miller: In 2005, I noticed that there were all these signs around NYC that said "No Dancing." I learned there was a 1926 Cabaret Law in place that required restaurants to have a license for dancing. The license was hard to get, so a lot of restaurants didn't have one, and it really suppressed culture. Kevin Bacon even remarked that it was like a real-life Footloose. We initially organized a dance parade in 2007 to show all the expressive forms of dance to protest the Cabaret Law. The law went on for 91 years. Just last year [October 2017], we were able to repeal it—hence the theme: "The Cabaret of Life."

Photo by Peter Cai, courtesy of NYC Dance Parade

DT: What do you hope to accomplish with this event?

GM: The purpose is to present the diversity of dance, to educate the public about opportunities to experience dance, and, as a sub-purpose, to preserve dance's role within our culture. The healthy act of dancing should not be regulated, but encouraged. We want to inspire all to participate and enjoy culture, no matter who you are.

DT: How do dance teachers benefit from the parade?

GM: Studios are able to participate in this event, and it's great. They get exposure, and they get to share their love of dance with the city. But what's also really great is for teachers to bring their students to watch. It will open their students' eyes to the types of dance styles that are out there. In the past, teachers have watched the parade, seen styles they'd never seen before, gone home, trained in that style and put it into their curriculum.

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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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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