Video of the Month: Shaping the Next Generation

Congratulations to Joffrey Ballet School (JBS), the latest Editors’ Choice winner for Dance Teacher’s Video of the Month!

In this video, JBS teachers from the New York City–based program (including summer intensive guest faculty members Maria Kowroski, principal with New York City Ballet, and Dwight Rhoden, artistic director of Complexions Contemporary Ballet) share their thoughts on the importance of exposing dancers to a variety of styles and teaching classically trained dancers to use their bodies in different ways.

Davis Robertson, artistic director of JBS’ performing ensemble Joffrey Concert Group, has the task of selecting the program’s guest artists. A former principal with Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet, Robertson keeps a keen eye out for the best opportunities for his students. “I look at the knowledge teachers have to offer in terms of their own training and how it relates to what the dancers are learning here,” he says. It’s an added benefit when guest teachers can offer professional opportunities, as well. Rhoden, for example, went on to hire two students he met at JBS.

When finding your own guest teachers, Robertson suggests using ready-made studio connections. “Stay in contact with all of your alums,” he says. “The dance world is so small that if you have one student who becomes a professional, that one can put you in touch with a hundred other professionals from a wide range of schools and abilities.”

Want to build buzz about your studio, workshop or class? Posting videos to the Dance Teacher Video of the Month Contest is quick, easy and free—and it’s a great way to get noticed. If your video is selected as Editors’ Choice, you’ll be featured on this page, and you’ll win a free one-year subscription to DT! Don’t miss out on a great opportunity—visit dancemedia.com, share your videos and vote for your favorites. Any and all kinds of dance are welcome.

Music
Getty Images

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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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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