Dancers Sue New York City To Legalize Dancing
WKCR DJ/jazz historian Phil Schaap, New York City Ballet Master in Chief Peter Martins, "Mad Hot Ballroom" instructor Yvonne Marceau, "Footloose" choreographer Lynne Taylor-Corbett, and others support landmark case to overturn Prohibition-era statute as unconstitutional.
Four dancers — Byron Cox, Ian Dutton, John Festa, and Meredith Stead — and a social-dance organization, the Gotham West Coast Swing Club, filed suit June 23, 2005, in New York State Supreme Court, calling for the immediate repeal of the Cabaret Laws on the grounds that they restrict the state's guarantee of freedom of expression by legislating and limiting the act of social dancing at eating and drinking establishments.
The plaintiffs in the case are represented by a team of lawyers that includes NYU law professor Paul Chevigny and former New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Norman Siegel. The next court date in the case is September 2, when the city will offer its initial response to the suit. On October 18, the plaintiffs will file their response. The judge is Hon. Michael Stallman.
Prominent members from across New York's dance community are supporting the suit, demonstrating the Cabaret Laws' broad negative impact on dancing of every kind, and on dancing as a vital cultural influence. Supporters who filed affidavits for the plaintiffs include: Phil Schaap, WKCR FM on-air DJ and renowned jazz historian; Peter Martins, New York City Ballet Master in Chief; Lynne Taylor-Corbett, Footloose (the film) and Alvin Ailey choreographer; and Yvonne Marceau, who teaches ballroom dancing at the Juilliard School and the American School of Ballet, and whose New York City grade-school dance classes are the basis for the hit documentary film Mad Hot Ballroom.
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