Teaching Tips

What to Do When Your Students STILL Don't Apply the Corrections You've Given Them 20 Times

Photo by Amber Permsap, courtesy of Metropolitan Ballet Academy

Lisa Collins Vidnovic, director of Metropolitan Ballet Academy in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, analyzes her students to find out why they aren't remembering and applying corrections.


Are they physically able to apply the correction? "Maybe they can't fix what you want them to fix because of physical limitations," she says. If dancers can't support themselves and need more core strength, for example, encourage a Pilates class or at least holding a plank position for 30 seconds a few times day.

Do they believe you? "Older dancers like doing things a certain way, and so it turns into a matter of personal opinion and trust," says Vidnovic. Ask them why they don't want to change, and explain why you think it's better to do it a certain way. "Then it turns into more of an artistic discussion."

Are you holding them accountable? Ask a student before class starts what corrections you gave the last class. "See if they can remember," she says, "and challenge them to answer to you."

Do you see them often enough? If young dancers can't remember corrections, maybe you need to see them more often. "A week between classes is like an eternity for a 9-year-old!" she says.

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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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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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