Ailey dancers Michael McBride and Samuel Roberts

When Two Ailey Dancers Get Engaged, Of Course There Are (Professional) Background Dancers

Michael McBride and Samuel Roberts both joined Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in June 2009, but they were at very different points in their careers: McBride was just finishing his junior year in the Ailey/Fordham BFA program, while Roberts was already 10 years into his career. They were paired as roommates on their first domestic tour with the company, yet they rarely spent time together, leading very separate social lives during their time off.

It wasn't until two years later that they started to bond over the TV show Brothers and Sisters. Although one thing led to the next, the two kept their romantic relationship private from the company for another year.

But it's definitely not a secret anymore.

When the couple sat down for dinner at their favorite local restaurant in January, McBride had no idea what was in store. For almost a year, Roberts had plotted and choreographed a surprise proposal with over 40 friends and family, a world-class flash mob with dancers from both Ailey and Paul Taylor Dance Company.

Maybe if he had known, McBride says would have taken Roberts up on his suggestion to change out of his "mom jeans and sweatshirt"!

Watch their story unfold on Instagram @samuellee.me & @mickey.mc.
Videographer credit: Daniel Robertson

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What Copyright Protections Do Choreographers Have Over Their Work?

When choreography is created, is it protected by copyright? Yes and no.

JaQuel Knight is facing this question today in his journey to copyright his iconic choreographic work with artists like Beyoncé and Megan Thee Stallion. Thanks to U.S. copyright law, the process has not been easy. Through a partnership with the Dance Notation Bureau, Knight has been working with Lynne Weber to put his work into Labanotation. On July 9, 2020, he received an approved registered copyright for his "Single Ladies" choreography, making him the first commercial choreographer in pop music to succeed in copyrighting his work.

Understanding the challenges in making this happen requires a close look at the history of U.S. copyright law. Here's what dancemakers should know about the background of copyright, how they can register their work and what more could be done to legally protect dance.

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February 2021