News

What Makes Ailey's ​Revelations So Special to So Many (And Where to See It This Week)

If you've seen Alvin Ailey's masterpiece, Revelations, you know why it's so popular—it's a powerful piece of dance that reflects African-American heritage and culture and takes the viewer on an emotional journey, from sorrow to elation to hope. (That Ailey choreographed this piece when he was only 29 years old makes it that much more incredible, to me.) Getting to hear what it's like to dance such a watershed piece from the performers themselves is a special treat. After all, they're the ones inside the piece, bringing it to life. Watch this short video to hear from company stars and guest artists about what makes Revelations special:


This week, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is performing at Lincoln Center, and Revelations is, of course, on the performance roster. There are plenty of other program highlights to get you there—premieres by artistic director Robert Battle, works by longtime company member Hope Boykin and choreographer Kyle Abraham—but Revelations is definitely the cherry on top of the repertory sundae.

Plus, the performance schedule coincides with New York City's Dance Week, which means the Ailey Extension is offering free classes—like last night's jazz class in the Lincoln Center plaza. DT was there—did you see?

Teachers Trending
Photo by Yvonne M. Portra, courtesy Faulkner

It's a Wednesday in May, and 14 Stanford University advanced modern ­dance students are logged on to Zoom, each practicing a socially distanced duet with an imaginary person. "Think about the quality of their personality and the type of duet you might have," says their instructor Katie Faulkner, "but also their surface area and how you'd relate to them in space." Amid dorm rooms, living rooms, dining rooms and backyards, the dancers make do with cramped quarters and dodge furniture as they twist, curve, stretch and intertwine with their imaginary partners.

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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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