What My Teacher Taught Me: Billy Siegenfeld


JUMP RHYTHM® Jazz Project artistic director Billy Siegenfeld spent several years of his performance career dancing with chronic pain before he met ideokinesis teacher Andre Bernard. Thanks to Bernard’s method of correcting body alignment and posture with visual imagery, Siegenfeld had an epiphany about how to dance without pain.

“I was a big muscle-forcer. I went to Andre with lots of tension and asked him, ‘Why am I hurting?’ He said, ‘Billy, let me show you something.’ He picked up a humerus bone and a scapula, and he fit the head of the humerus into the shoulder socket of the scapula. He said, ‘See the way this bone is meant to go into the shoulder socket? When you work your arms, you’re not doing that. You’re pushing your humerus back, so as a consequence, you’re pushing your scapula back.’ I realized that the dance techniques that I’d studied, where they tell you to stand up straight and pull up, were sending my weight backwards and forcing my body into positions it didn’t want to go.”

JUMP RHYTHM® Jazz Project will celebrate its 25th anniversary season in Chicago with revivals of some of Siegenfeld’s oldest works, October 24–November 2, at Stage 773.



Photo by Justin Barbin, courtesy of Siegenfeld

Teacher Voices
Photo courtesy Rhee Gold Company

Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, there has been a shift in our community that is so impressive that the impact could last long into our future. Although required school closures have hit the dance education field hard, what if, when looking back on this time, we see that it's been an incredible renaissance for dance educators, studio owners and the young dancers in our charge?

How could that be, you ask?

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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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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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