Merrill Brockway, a director and producer who brought high art to millions of Americans by presenting many of the 20th century’s greatest dancers and choreographers on the PBS television series Dance in America, died on May 2 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, according to The New York Times. He was 90.
Brockway’s work introduced many people to George Balanchine, Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, Agnes de Mille, Jerome Robbins, Twyla Tharp, and other giants of dance. Dance in America premiered in 1976 with the Joffrey Ballet, and later became part of the PBS series Great Performances.
Modeled after the dance numbers in Fred Astaire movies, Dance in America became known for showing dancers’ bodies mostly in full. Brockway said his collaboration with Balanchine influenced that approach.
“If you notice, all Fred Astaire movies are full figure, and Balanchine ballets are like that,” he said in an interview in The New York Times in 2011. “So we devised acceptable shots, and we came up with those together. If you watch TV now, it’s like they’re taking pictures. In dancing you can’t just take pictures, you’re telling a story.”
A pianist and World War II Army veteran who gravitated toward the budding television industry in the 1950s, Brockway became interested in dance, he said, after a classmate at Columbia University took him to see Martha Graham. In his 2010 memoir, Surprise Was My Teacher, Brockway wrote: “I saw a tiny lady dancing a solo. She grabbed my gut, swung it around, tossed it in the air, slammed it to the ground, then tenderly picked it up and cradled it. I would be, forever, Martha Graham’s disciple.”
To read the full story, visit http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/10/arts/television/merrill-brockway-producer-of-tvs-dance-in-america-dies-at-90.html?_r=0
University of Illinois dance Professor Tere O’Connor’s selection as a Doris Duke Artist Award winner will bring him an unrestricted $225,000, plus another $25,000 to pay for an audience-development project, and another $25,000 to put toward his retirement.
The News-Gazette reported that Duke award winners are culled from a pool of artists who have won at least three designated national accolades during the preceding decade. Among those given to O’Connor: U.S. Artists Rockefeller Fellow, 2009; Guggenheim Fellow, 1993; and three New York Dance and Performance (Bessie) Awards.
He also has received multiple grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Harkness Foundation for Dance, and other organizations.
In addition to the national recognition, the UI College of Fine and Applied Arts recently gave O’Connor one of two research awards. “Tere is a great example of an artist who maintains an active, cutting-edge practice while also being highly engaged on our campus,” college dean Ed Feser told the UI News Bureau. “He very much helps put Illinois ‘on the map’ in dance.”
O’Connor, an internationally known choreographer, joined Dance at Illinois in 2006. Based in New York, where his Tere O’Connor Dance Company is located, he spends the spring semesters at Illinois.
“I love the work I do with the students here,” he said. “The choreographic product I make is not divorced from my teaching and advocacy for dance. And those experiences all kind of converge in the dances somehow.”
Change It Up
It’s easy to let classes fall into a too-comfortable routine that can dampen dancers’ enthusiasm. To keep things fresh and interesting in all types of classes, change things up! Here are some ideas.
• Have students change from their usual place at the barre or center. Continue to do so throughout the class.
• Begin combinations on the left side or on a different count of music.
• Change the music you normally use for class. Explore using popular or ethnic music for ballet class or classical music for jazz, tap, or modern.
• Have a music theme week using a particular musical artist, composer, or style.
• Let young students know that at each class, one of them will be selected to be the class leader. Don’t tell them ahead of time who will be selected. No one will want to miss her turn. Keep track so that everyone gets a turn.
• Ask students to retrograde combinations (perform the steps in reverse order), being careful to use age- and ability-appropriate combinations that won’t turn challenge into frustration or failure.
• Assign older students “homework” to create a 16- to 32-count combination, and randomly choose one student per class to perform her combination for the class.
• Have each student choose one movement or step and randomly place students (and their steps) in order to create an 8- to 16-count phrase. Change the order one or more times. This exercise can produce interesting combinations, and working together to add connecting movements that make the phrase flow helps students understand transitions.
• Bring in photos of famous dancers or choreographers and teach your dancers about them and their contributions to the dance world.
• Have students mirror each other in pairs for port de bras or other movements. It develops focus and is fun for students of all ages.
Dancing Through Decades
I recently reintroduced an idea I incorporated a few years ago, called “Dance Thru the Decades.” It was a response to the fact that my students seemed to lack knowledge of past dance styles, and did not realize that their “new” cool moves are actually derivative of steps that have existed for years.
I find that this works well with my intermediate-level students, who love learning about different periods in dance history.
Every other month I choose a decade and we spend 10 to 15 minutes in each class learning about it. We look at video clips to find out which dancers and choreographers were popular during that time, learn about the dances or steps that were made famous during the period, and listen to music that was commonly danced to.
After two months of learning about the dance and dancers of the decade, we devote a whole class to revisiting what we learned. I allow students to dress in the style of that era and award a small prize for the most authentic outfit. I also give them a trivia sheet to complete and we learn a combination influenced by the music and dance style from that time period.
To get started, choose a decade to focus on. Internet searches will help refresh your memory about what was trending during that time. I start with the 1920s, when the charleston was the rage. As we move ahead, I can then show how this style was incorporated in the 1940s with the jitterbug. I play big-band music and teach swing and lindy hop phrases. We dance a combination to Benny Goodman’s “Sing Sing Sing” and watch a dance clip from the movie Swing Kids.
I continue the theme and format, always emphasizing the evolution of dance, until we reach the present. It is a fun yet structured way to introduce and incorporate dance history into your class curriculum.
Dorrance is the first tap artist to receive the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award, which honors outstanding, visionary dance artists. It carries a prize of $25,000, one of the largest cash awards in the dance industry, to be used by the choreographer to advance their artistry in any way they choose.
Michelle Dorrance will perform at the Gala with singer Aaron Marcellus. Her ensemble, Dorrance Dance, will perform at this summer’s festival July 24 to 28, accompanied by award-winning singer, musician, and composer Toshi Reagon and band.
Past recipients of the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award include Crystal Pite, Merce Cunningham, and Bill T. Jones. Ella Baff, Jacob’s Pillow executive and artistic director commented: “With this year’s award, we recognize a hugely talented young artist who is experimenting with new ideas and moving the art of tap forward. We are also honoring the great American art form of tap, which has created some of the best dance and music-making ever.”
Dorrance is lauded as “one of the most imaginative tap choreographers working today” (The New Yorker). A 2012 Princess Grace Award Winner, 2012 Field Dance Fund Recipient, and 2011 Bessie Award Winner, Dorrance is among the world’s most sought after tap performers, teachers, and choreographers today. For Festival 2013 information and tickets, call 413.243.0745 or visit www.jacobspillow.org.
The inaugural Times of India Film Awards in Vancouver on April 6— the Academy Awards of Bollywood cinema— was defined by large-scale production numbers devised by Shiamak Davar, an A-list Bollywood choreographer who divides his time between Mumbai and Vancouver.
“TOIFA is an extension of the cultural exchange that has been taking place between Canada and India for years now,” Davar told The Vancouver Sun. Many of the participating B.C. dancers were members of the Shiamak Davar Dance Team, the professional wing of his North Vancouver dance school affiliated with a string of international Shiamak style dance schools, including centers in Victoria and Toronto.
Davar, who served as both director of choreography and design for the Vancouver events, is widely credited with re-positioning Bollywood dance for an international market.
“When I started off 20 years ago,” he said, “Bollywood dance did not have a structure. The first movie I choreographed went on to win a national award, and introduced jazz technique to Bollywood. It was a first for Indian cinema to have properly choreographed pieces with dancers who were trained and had fit bodies. This movie—Dil Toh Pagal Hai—is considering a turning point for dance in Bollywood movies.”
A marker of his success is the fact that the term Bollywood now refers to a dance style, as well as to the Hindi-language film industry based in Mumbai. If old Bollywood dance was modeled on classical styles like bharata natyam and kathak, or folk dances like bhangra, the new Bollywood marries those older forms with western genres like contemporary, jazz, and hip hop.
The choreographer of bestselling London West End shows Cats, The Phantom of The Opera, and Aspects of Love is worried about the future of the industry.
Gillian Lynne, set to receive an Olivier award for lifetime achievement next month, told The Observer she senses a growing threat to musical theater from television. “It is a real problem for the West End,” said the former classical ballerina. “Television, especially reality TV, is a danger because producers drop someone into a role who has been on television. It’s not healthy. They want instant fame.”
Recently, The Wizard of Oz, Chicago, and Oliver! have all been promoted by using cast members known to TV audiences first, but it is a trend she decries.
At 87, Lynne is the most successful choreographer of several generations. The Olivier award will celebrate her contribution to theater and a career she believes has been built on a commitment to her art and a dislike of shortcuts. In spite of a close working relationship with Lord Lloyd-Webber, who uses TV contests to pick out his new stage stars, Lynne fears the reliance on celebrities has undermined her craft.
Lynne worked most recently on the West End show Dear World, but her life in dance started in London’s East End at the age of 16. Later, she danced with Sadler’s Wells Ballet and at Covent Garden, before turning to acting, choreography, and directing.
Her Olivier award means she joins an elite list of previous recipients, including Lloyd Webber, Stephen Sondheim, Dame Maggie Smith, and Sir Alan Ayckbourn. The ceremony in London will crown a career in which she has danced with both Frederick Ashton and Fred Astaire.
To see the full story, visit
Can a single-artist dance company become an ever-evolving, interactive, mobile museum?
That is the question, and the premise, of the Trisha Brown Dance Company’s revolutionary plan as the iconic, 76-year-old dancemaker retires her choreographic cap and becomes the company’s founding artistic director and choreographer, reports an article in Berkeleyside.
As of February 2011 and after a series of minor strokes, Brown concluded 50-plus-years as a master creator of elegant physical vocabulary unfurled in magnificent metaphors of time, tasks, and space.
Naming Diane Madden and Carolyn Lucas (long-time TBDC members since joining as dancers in the 1980s) as associate artistic directors, the company embarked in January on a three-year international “Proscenium Works, 1979-2011” tour.
At the tour’s conclusion—and even now, as plans are laid and funding sought—TBDC’s papers, visual art and sets, film and video archives, costumes, educational programming, and yes, the lovely dances that are its creative centerpiece, will enter a new phase.
Immortality, if it is possible, will come from the rigor of Brown’s vision as it lives on in site-specific re-mountings of the repertoire, cross-genre engagements with public institutions, and a curated, online media library.
A key component will be TBDC alumni, like the two women now charged with carrying a legacy into its future. “Trisha always shared her process, her thoughts’ gestation, as these dances were made,” Lucas said, in an intermission interview during the company’s one-night Cal Performance appearance at Zellerbach Hall on March 15.
To read the full story, visit http://www.berkeleyside.com/2013/03/19/114044/.
As the trailblazing dance artist Trisha Brown, 76, moves from making dances into a more administrative position in her company, fans can relish some of her best works on a two-disc DVD set available from ARTPIX.
Trisha Brown: Early Works 1966-1979 features film and video footage by filmmakers, including Babette Mangolte, Carlotta Schoolman, and Jonathan Demme, of 18 of Brown’s major performances from 1966 to 1979. A companion DVD contains a conversation between Brown and art historian Klaus Kertess in which Brown talks about her dance education, early years in New York, work with Judson Dance Theater and her fellow choreographers, and the creation of her innovative dances.
Brown, one of the most acclaimed choreographers of contemporary dance, first came to notice in New York in the 1960s and founded her company in 1970. Along with like-minded artists Yvonne Rainer, Steve Paxton, and Simone Forti, she pushed the limits of what was then considered appropriate movement for choreography, and changed modern dance forever.
Other DVDs available from ARTPIX include the Merce Cunningham Dance Company’s final performances at the Park Avenue Armory, New York, in 2011; and Cunningham’s collaborations with designer Robert Rauschenberg (Suite for Five, Summerscape, and Interscape;) plus dance construction pieces from Simone Forti presented at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles in 2004.
Trisha Brown: Early Works 1966-1979 is available for $40 from http://www.artpix.org/02TB.htm.
This May, the Group Theatre Too (GTT) will present its sixth annual Choreographer’s Canvas, a one-night event featuring the works of more than 15 established and emerging choreographers from around the country.The Canvas, headed by GTT executive producer Justin Boccitto, will showcase many styles of dance including tap, ballet, jazz, hip-hop, contemporary, theater dance, aerial, and swing dance. Since its inception, the Canvas has presented more than 65 choreographers, with more than 450 dancers performing to sellout houses.
This year’s event features choreography by Bobby Hedglin-Taylor, an aerial choreographer whose work is represented in the Broadway revival of Pippin, as well as Richard Hinds, who is the associate director of both Newsies and the upcoming Broadway revival of Jekyll and Hyde.
Other work will be presented by choreographers Michael Blevins, Justin Boccitto, Emily Bufferd, Pam Covas, Francesca Harper, Punchali Khanna Kumar, Merete Muenter, Derek Mitchell, Nicole Ohr, Sue Samuels, Jaime Shannon with Tony Fraser, Stephanie Sine, Jeanne Slater, and Broadway Dance Center’s teen company, AIM.
The 2013 Choreographer’s Canvas will be presented May 18 at 8:30pm at the Manhattan Movement & Arts Center, 248 West 60th Street (between Amsterdam and West End Avenue), New York City. Tickets are available at www.choreographerscanvas.com ($30 in advance/$35 at the door).
Choreographer, director, and educator Lin Hwai-min’s “fearless zeal for the art form has established him as one of the most dynamic and innovative choreographers today” will be recognized when Lin receives the 2013 Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement from the American Dance Festival (ADF).
The award celebrates choreographers who have dedicated their lives and talents to the creation of modern dance. The Scripps/ADF Award presentation will take place July 26 at 8pm prior to the evening’s performance at the Durham [NC] Performing Arts Center as part of the ADF’s 80th anniversary season, which will run June 13 to July 27.
Lin’s illustrious career as a choreographer has spanned more than four decades and has earned him international praise for his impact on Chinese modern dance. He is the founder, choreographer, and artistic director of both Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan (founded in 1973) and Cloud Gate 2 (founded in 1999), and his choreography continues to be presented throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. Of his 86 choreographic works, 20 have been made into dance films, and most recently, Lin was the subject of three full-length television documentaries including the Discovery Channel’s Portraits Taiwan: Lin Hwai-min.
In 1983, Lin founded the Department of Dance at Taipei National University of the Arts and served as its chairman for five years. In 2005, Lin was celebrated by Time magazine as one of “Asia’s Heroes,” and in 2009 was recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Movimentos Dance Prize in Germany, among many other awards and honors.
For information about ADF’s programs, please visit www.americandancefestival.org.
By Jennifer Kaplan
Summer intensives are meant to challenge students, push them outside of their comfort zones and, ultimately, make them better dancers—and, perhaps, better people for the experience. Last summer the Brazil Project took CityDance Center students far from their spacious, well-appointed studios in Bethesda, Maryland—4,796 miles, in fact.
The nonprofit studio, which has a growing pre-professional conservatory training program, sent 16 advanced dance students to Rio de Janeiro for a two-week intensive. There they studied with some of the city’s top ballet and modern teachers and choreographers, interacted with their Brazilian dance peers, and even picked up a little samba. The Brazil Project, as the intensive was dubbed, culminated in a studio theater performance in which the CityDance students performed a work they learned with the young adult dancers of Rio’s Ballet Jovem.
“When I came to CityDance nearly five years ago,” says Lorraine Spiegler, artistic director of studio education for the school and conservatory, “in keeping with my vision, I realized it’s logical that we should be connecting because the world’s very small. That was part of my motivation to initiate the Brazil Project.”
It took a year of intensive planning, two advance trips, and a fund-raising campaign that raised more than $10,000 to get the project off the ground—and the students in the air on a flight to Rio. But Spiegler hopes her efforts will pay off in time, by providing a greater depth of experience to some of the most promising young dancers, introducing new choreography to the CityDance pre-professional company, and forging lasting relationships between the CityDance teachers and their Brazilian counterparts.
CityDance Center, which is based at the Music Center at Strathmore in suburban Washington, DC, offers a wide range of recreational, pre-professional, and conservatory options, including classes in ballet, modern, jazz, Bollywood, hip-hop, and Sri Lankan dance. Of the 550 or so students, 120 belong to CityDance Conservatory/Select and work on what Spiegler calls a pre-professional track. She notes many parallels between the work she does at CityDance and the training she observed during the six years she lived in Rio de Janeiro.
“I saw that the energy and vitality of Brazilian dance across genres was exactly how I saw myself implementing programming at CityDance,” she says. “There’s strong ballet, strong contemporary modern, strong jazz, and now there’s strong hip-hop and strong tap, very much influenced by the United States.”
The ballet training is Vaganova-based, but it is filtered through teachers who are immersed in Brazilian, not Russian, culture. Brazilian dancers often have a different physical facility than the Russians do, and Spiegler says the teachers acknowledge this in how they train. Those teachers also point to the multicultural nature of Brazilian society for adding “spice” to the technique. The ballet training there doesn’t only allow for diversity, it encourages it.
Spiegler also notes how ingrained dance is in the social lives of most Brazilians, in a way it simply isn’t for Americans in the United States. Communities of amateur dancers of all ages organize themselves into samba schools and clubs that prepare for elaborate parades and performances at the annual Carnival festival in Rio de Janeiro. “There are the specialty dance programs in Rio de Janeiro—Brazilian, Afro-Brazilian, capoeira, and a variety of folk dances,” Spiegler says. Dance culture is rich, varied, and deeply embedded in Brazilian society, she adds.
Organizing the trip took about nine months of actual hands-on planning; Spiegler and former CityDance faculty member Elizabeth Gahl took the helm in making arrangements. Because Spiegler had lived and taught in Rio, she was familiar with the dance studio culture and principal dance educators there. Also, in 2001, she had initiated and organized a similar program at Goucher College in Maryland, in which dance students spent a few weeks of winter break on a study and research trip focusing on various aspects of dance in Rio.
Even with her familiarity with Brazilian dance, Spiegler took two advance trips (one in November and one in May), supported by the Partners of the Americas foundation and other donors, before the students left in late June. This enabled her to make sure the dance studios could still host her students; meet the teachers; arrange for a pair of minivan drivers; check the accommodations; scope out healthy, low-cost places to eat; and fine-tune other details. The students paid about $3,300 each, which included classes, hotel, airfare, and the hotel breakfast. (Some students received partial need-based scholarships supported by the fund-raising campaign and by a pre-trip concert the students presented.) They brought spending money for souvenirs and for some lunches and dinner each day. Spiegler and two chaperones, one of whom was a doctor, accompanied the students and kept tabs on them wherever they went.
Their work with Ballet Jovem, the young pre-professional company, introduced Rio de Janeiro–based contemporary choreographer Alex Neoral to the Brazilian ballet world. Neoral, a favorite of Spiegler’s, has spent significant time working with CityDance students in Bethesda, where, since his first trip to Maryland in 2007, he has set numerous works on the dancers on annual visits. The visiting students also studied with teachers from prominent Brazilian studios including Cia de Dança Deborah Colker, Escola Maria Olenewa, and Focus Cia de Dança. At the end of the two weeks, they traveled across town to a studio theater with their Ballet Jovem colleagues to perform in a mostras (an informal showcase), dancing a Neoral work (Quase Uma, which they learned jointly with Ballet Jovem), a capoeira demo, and another new piece choreographed by Janice Botelho that they’ll take back to Bethesda and add to the conservatory repertory.
In Brazil, the American students, none of whom spoke Portuguese, managed quite well—particularly in dance classes, Spiegler says, because so much of the work is universal. “Plié is still plié. Contraction is still contraction,” she says. “Their ability to get along [in class] was a testament to our program, I thought, and to good training in the U.S. We have excellent technique training in the U.S. at this point, so the kids were very comfortable.”
She was on hand to translate if necessary, and Neoral and a few of the other teachers spoke English. But the students quickly found their own ways to communicate, especially with one another. A few of the Brazilian students could manage a bit of English and the rest was negotiated through experience, a growing familiarity, and a readiness to bridge cultures. “Even if we weren’t speaking the same language, we were able to communicate and understand each other through dance,” says 17-year-old Colleen Hoerle of Gaithersburg, Maryland.
When not taking class or rehearsing, CityDance and Ballet Jovem enjoyed some downtime together, which Spiegler felt was an important part of the program. One day there was a beach party; other times it was a stop in an open-air market or trip to the mall. These moments of peer-to-peer interaction, Spiegler hopes, will prove lasting. The CityDance students also had a bit of time for sightseeing in the Cidade Maravilhosa, “the marvelous city,” as Rio is known, for its beaches, mountains, sweeping views, and sophisticated multiethnic culture.
Spiegler has dubbed the Brazil Project “Dancing in One Language.” She would like to expand it to three weeks in Rio this summer and open it up to other countries in coming years. CityDance has already invited Bollywood master teacher Vishal Kanoi of Calcutta to teach workshops for the conservatory students. Spiegler envisions a day in the future when she brings students to India, or China, or . . . The possibilities are endless.
With students representing nearly 35 nationalities on CityDance’s roster, Spiegler sees international exchanges not as a luxury but as a necessity when training pre-professional dancers for the competitive job market. College freshman Taryn Bailey, 18, says the experience opened her eyes about how hard dancers must work. “While I was there I saw the professionalism and focus the [Brazilian] dancers had. Being there helped me really hone my technique and taught me that I needed to work even harder.”
Already a few of Spiegler’s students have their sights set on auditioning for some of the Brazilian companies they encountered; some hope to return there to further their studies.
“We lived exactly like Brazilians live for two weeks,” Spiegler says. “We’d have morning ballet, rehearsal, then walk to a place for a big lunch, then get back in the van and go to our afternoon class—that could be a folk dance workshop or something else. I’d never seen our kids healthier. I saw our contemporary dancers gain a new respect for ballet, and the ballet dancers discovered new things like capoeira or samba. Everyone was crossing boundaries.”
Matt Mattox, a Jack Cole protégé who pioneered his own signature jazz technique based on ballet and who was highly regarded as a teacher and choreographer, died February 18 in France. He was 91.
Bob Boross, Radford University Department of Dance assistant professor, posted on the Matt Mattox Freestyle Jazz Dance Facebook group: “I’m sure I speak for all in saying that his presence in this world has had a major influence on the dance world and on those who lived in the light of his charismatic flame. He truly was a remarkable dancer, teacher, choreographer, and advocate for dance. . . . There will truly never be another Matt Mattox—he was a most spectacular original.”
Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Mattox performed on Broadway in, among other productions, the original production of Once Upon a Mattress (1959) and the 1957 revival of Brigadoon (as Harry Beaton). His Hollywood career included roles in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Yolanda and the Thief, The Band Wagon, Till the Clouds Roll By, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and There’s No Business Like Show Business.
He used his background in ballet technique to create his own technique for jazz dance, and his jazz classes were assembled in the progression of a ballet class. He also choreographed for Broadway and television, and created a concert dance company.
Most recently, Mattox lived and worked in Perpignan, France. (Source: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matt_Mattox)
A prolonged economic downturn, reduced arts funding, and dwindling grant allotments have painted a bleak picture for artistic nonprofits, so several Chicago-area female choreographers have decided to apply their onstage creative spirit to their business offstage, reports Crain’s Chicago Business.
The heads of four local dance companies—Dance COLEctive, Hedwig Dances, Same Planet/Different World Dance Theatre, and Zephyr Dance—formed FlySpace in 2012, an umbrella organization through which they share resources and administrative duties for marketing and audience-building to “gain economies of scale,” said Michelle Kranicke, artistic director of Zephyr.
With FlySpace, they are eschewing competition in favor of joining forces. “Through increased audiences, we’ll have more income, more financial resources, and be able to raise the collective visibility of our individual companies and hopefully the visibility for contemporary dance in general in Chicago,” she said.
It’s an unusual arrangement. Nonprofits do team up to share grant writers or executive directors, but FlySpace didn’t want to have a person forced to split her energy four ways. The women said that in their research, they have not found other groups teaming up in this way.
The women in the consortium say sharing business resources while retaining individual creativity is a smart way to stay afloat and, like it or not, is the future for artistic nonprofits.
To read the full story, visit http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20130214/NEWS07/130219903/nonprofit-dance-companies-join-forces.
Performers, choreographers, teachers, educators, artists, dance critics, dance researchers, and artistic directors from all over the world are invited to the first international symposium dedicated to the teachings and influence of Isadora Duncan, set for June 16 to 18 at The George Washington University, Washington, DC.
The Isadora Duncan International Symposium (IDIS) is accepting proposals now through March 1 from Duncan Dance practitioners wishing to demonstrate their methods and techniques, share important experience and knowledge, or present research and scholarship through master classes, lectures, panel discussions, or other presentation formats.
The symposium will provide opportunities for all participants to share work, learn best practices, and meet new colleagues, thus strengthening and enlarging the existing world-wide Duncan community in order to expand the reach and impact of Isadora’s revolutionary ideas.
“The Dance of the Future: Cultivating Duncan Dance for the 21st Century” is open to all Duncan Dance practitioners of different fields, genres, techniques, and forms, including performance, choreography, repertory, instruction, research and scholarship, criticism, photography, visual and multimedia art, biography, and more.
All attendees, including presenters, must register for the symposium. Symposium registration is $150 for the three-day event, and all sessions are open to all attendees. Please visit www.duncansymposium.com to register and for details on submitting presentation proposals.
In this installment of “Get to Know Your DLTC Faculty,” we continue our conversation with Diane Gudat, guest artist, choreographer, master teacher, and author.
If you were a superhero, what special skill would you like to have?
Diane: I would like to be able to fly so that I could get from place to place more quickly.
A genie in a bottle is granting you three wishes: what are they?
Diane: Happiness for my children and my grandchild; a long, healthy life; a television pilot.
What has dance meant to you in your life?
Diane: That’s very hard to say. It is my life, so it’s hard to be objective and say exactly what it truly means. I never did anything else!
I know dance allowed me to be home with my children as they were growing up. It allowed me to travel the world, and has challenged me to constantly learn and study. It has given me life-long friends. It has filled my life with emotional highs and lows. I am proud of who I am and what I have accomplished through dance, and when all is said and done, I hope that people will remember me as someone who might have inspired them and helped make their job easier.
To learn more about the DanceLife Teacher Conference scheduled for August 1 to 4 in Scottsdale, Arizona, visit www.dancelifeteacherconference.com.
The University of Utah’s Departments of Modern Dance and Film and Media Arts are requesting submissions of student dance films to be screened on the opening night of the 9th International Screendance Festival and Summer Intensive Editing Workshop with Simon Fildes, set for June 23 to 28.
This week long workshop offers in-depth experience for choreographers and filmmakers in shooting and editing screendance with Fildes, an award winning screendance editor, who will hold screenings, discussions, and demonstrations.
Submissions must be screendance pieces created specifically for film or video, a staged work recreated for the camera, or a short dance-related documentary—not performance documentations. A small cash prize for the Jury’s Choice will be awarded.
Submitted work, not to exceed 15 minutes in length, must have been completed while the student is enrolled in a full-time degree program or workshop setting. There is no submission fee, and artists may submit up to three different projects for consideration. The deadline is March 1 for mailed submissions or March 16 for online submissions.
See www.dance.utah.edu/screendancefest for more submission instructions as well as details and registration information for the festival and workshop.
Director Wim Wenders’ exquisite dance documentary Pina gets a beautiful Criterion treatment in a recently released 3D/2D Blu-ray combo now available at The Criterion Store for $39.96.
Specifically shot in 3D to add dimension and depth to the dance performances, this is probably one of the truest reasons for the use of 3D since its inception, reads a review in Edge Chicago.
More of a celebration of choreographer Pina Bausch than a documentary on her life, the film offers small glimpses into her persona, in addition to some previously filmed dance sequences with her. But mostly it’s a gripping showcase of her work. Shot in various locations around Germany, the19 featured dances give audiences a fascinating overview of her talent and style.
Special features include 14 deleted dance sequences, behind the scenes footage showing some of the dance sequences from the perspective of someone visiting the set, an interview with Wenders, and “The Making of Pina,” a 45-minute documentary on the film’s production.
Visit http://www.criterion.com/films/28404-pina for more info. To read the original review, visit
For each DanceLife Teacher Conference, Rhee Gold assembles a faculty of some of the most creative and enthusiastic leaders in the entire dance studio industry. Their resumes are impressive, for sure, but what really makes them tick? What brought them to dance, and what keeps them there? What do they love about teaching, and makes them keep moving?
In this installment of “Get to Know Your DLTC Faculty,” we learn more about Gregg Russell. Gregg, an Emmy-nominated choreographer shares his insights into tap education each month as part of Dance Studio Life’s “Two Tips for Tap Teachers” feature. He’s directed and appeared in commercials, performed with numerous music artists and on TV, is a faculty member at Co. Dance Conventions, and produces his own Tap Into the Network dance intensives.
When did you first start dancing and why?
Gregg: My mom enrolled me in tap when I was 4 because I was hyper!
Did you ever seriously consider a career in another field? What was it?
Gregg: I decided around age 13 to focus on dance, but did have partial scholarships when I graduated for geology and business. Maybe I can own a dance studio in a cave one day!
What person/event was the biggest inspiration in your life?
Gregg: I have had many mentors and personal guides throughout my life, but I think the two most inspirational ones for me were Henry LeTang and Keith Clifton.
What do you do for fun (other than dance)?
Gregg: I am a sports fan (any sport, really). Along with music, movies, and random trivia, I also love puzzles, long walks on the beach, good conversation . . . wait, now this is sounding like Match.com. Ha ha!
To learn more about the DanceLife Teacher Conference scheduled for August 1 to 4 in Scottsdale, Arizona, visit www.dancelifeteacherconference.com.
Four top performer/choreographers—Shaness Kemp, Theresa Ruth Howard, Iquail Shaheed, and Ronald Todorowski—will be leading open master classes and judging a dance student concert next month at Dean College, Franklin, Massachusetts.
The guest choreographers will serve as judges for a Choreographers’ Concert, set for February 22 at 7:30pm, and featuring works and performances by students from the Joan Phelps Palladino School of Dance at Dean.
Master classes open to the public have been scheduled for February 23. Dancers 12 to 14, 15 and older, and Dean alumnae and students can take classes in Broadway jazz, Afro-modern, contemporary, and modern repertoire. Registration is from 8 to 8:45am, with classes running from 9am to 3pm. Cost is $60 (Dean students/alumni $20).
Guest instructors include: Shaness Kemp, member of the Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers who has performed with Philadanco and Rennie Harris Puremovement; Theresa Ruth Howard, a faculty member at The Ailey School who has danced with Dance Theatre of Harlem, Donald Byrd, and Armitage Gone! Dance; Iquail Shaheed, founder and artistic director of Dance Iquail! and a teacher at Steps on Broadway and The Ailey Extension; and Ronald Todorowski, an assistant of Mia Michaels and Twyla Tharp with Broadway credits including Come Fly Away, Guys and Dolls, The Times They Are A-Changin’, Movin’ Out, Wicked, and Footloose.
For more information on Choreographers’ Concert or to register for a master class, visit www.dean.edu/DanceMomentum.
Described as an “East Coast urban dance event,” ICONS of Dance aims to showcase top dances and dance crews while also providing performance opportunities and industry contacts.
Dancers will receive live feedback from a celebrity panel, following the feedback format popularized by TV shows such as So You Think You Can Dance and America’s Best Dance Crew. Judges lined up for Atlantic City include SYTYCD choreographers Tabitha and Napoleon D’umo (Nappytabs), Step Up Revolution assistant choreographer Mike Song, and Arnel Calvario, manager for many top hip-hop artists and board president of Culture Shock International and Culture Shock Los Angeles.
A convention with master classes will be held from 8 to 11:45am. As a means of encouraging relationships within the urban dance community, the afternoon session will begin with a “freestyle session” from 2:15 to 5:15pm that will allow all participants to rehearse their routines onstage and engage in cyphers and freestyle sessions inside the event venue. During the evening session from 7 to 10:30pm, crews can either compete or choose to perform in showcases and exhibition numbers. An “unofficial” party will follow the 10:30pm awards presentation.
Audience member tickets are $20 general admission, and doors open at 6:30pm. More events are tentatively planned for the fall in Las Vegas, Chicago, Orlando, and San Juan, Puerto Rico. For more information or to register, visit http://www.iconsofdancetour.com/.
Diane Gudat, freelance writer, teacher, and choreographer known to Dance Studio Life magazine readers for her humorous and heartfelt takes on the life of a dance teacher, will be a faculty member at next summer’s DanceLife Teacher Conference.
The conference, set for August 1 to 4 at the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona, will feature 27 teachers and speakers—from professional company directors to business experts and master teachers—sharing anecdotes and information with teachers and studio owners.
A native of Indianapolis, Indiana, Gudat began The Dance Company in 1979. She is the artistic director of the Indianapolis Children’s Dance League and originally produced/directed the Indiana State Dance Championships.
Gudat has served as a guest artist and choreographer to numerous private studios, high schools, and companies all over the United States and Canada, and served as a master teacher for many dance teachers’ organizations, including Dance Masters of America, Dance Teachers Club of Boston, Florida Dance Masters, Southern Association of Dance Masters, and the Chicago National Association of Dance Masters. As an independent, award-winning choreographer, she has staged a wide variety of musicals and has choreographed numerous show choirs and dance lines. She was one of the coaches to the 2002 gold medal USA Tap and Showdance teams at the World Championships held in Germany.
Gudat is the author of three dance books: Acrobatics for the Dance Studio, The Time Step Dictionary, and Music Theory for the Dance Classroom. Her humor and energy have made her a popular judge and faculty member for numerous conventions and competitions across the U.S. and Canada.
For full details on DLTC, visit http://www.dancestudiolife.com/dltc/dltc-fees-info/.
Emmy-nominated choreographer and master tap teacher Gregg Russell will be sharing his insights into tap education each month as part of Dance Studio Life magazine’s “Two Tips for Tap Teachers” feature.
Russell, who will also be teaching at next summer’s DanceLife Teacher Conference, has joined the magazine’s esteemed “tipsters” Bill Evans (“Two Tips for Modern Teachers”), Mignon Furman (“Two Tips for Ballet Teachers), and Geo Hubela (“Two Tips for Hip-Hop Teachers”).
Russell has directed commercials and performed with numerous music artists. He appeared in a national Volkswagon commercial, trained Dancing With the Stars’ Derek Hough for an upcoming feature film, and performed on the Jerry Lewis Telethon and Dance Halloween charity events. As a master teacher he travels with Co. Dance Conventions and produces his own Tap Into the Network dance intensives.
His first set of tap tips will appear in the January DSL. For more information on the DanceLife Teacher Conference, visit http://www.dancestudiolife.com/dltc/dltc-fees-info/.
The Joffrey Academy of Dance, official school of The Joffrey Ballet, announced this week that Ma Cong, William McClellan, and Jeremy McQueen are the winners of the Third Annual Choreographers of Color Award.
The Choreographers of Color Award was created to recognize promising young minority choreographers. Winners receive a minimum of 30 rehearsal hours to set a new work on the Joffrey Academy trainees, a $2,500 stipend, and the opportunity to work directly with Joffrey Academy artistic directors Alexei Kremnev and Anna Reznik.
Cong started his career at the Beijing Dance Academy training as a Chinese classical dancer before he joined the National Ballet of China in 1995, then Tulsa Ballet in 1999; he has created works for Tulsa Ballet, Houston Ballet, BalletMet, Ballet Florida, Smuin Ballet, Richmond Ballet, Ballet Nouveau Colorado, and Ballet Des Moines, among others
McClellan, a principal dancer and resident choreographer for 10 years for the first and second Dayton Contemporary Dance companies, is currently an MFA candidate in the Department of Dance at University of Michigan.
McQueen, a 2008 graduate of The Ailey School/Fordham University, BFA in Dance program, has presented his choreographic works throughout New York City, including the seventh annual Dance From The Heart concert presented by Dancers Responding to AIDS, the Young Choreographer’s Festival, and the Dance Gallery Festival.
The three world premieres will be presented in “Choreographers of Color Award 2013: Winning Works” at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 East Randolph Drive, Chicago, on March 10, 2013 at 4pm. Tickets are $18 in advance or $22 at the door and will be available as of January 8, 2013, by calling the Harris Theater Box Office at 312.334.7777 or online at www.harristheaterchicago.org.
When Miley Cyrus struts, spins, and swivels around her concert stage, it was Boston-born choreographer Nancy O’Meara who helped her hone those moves.
O’Meara will be just one top industry faculty member at next summer’s DanceLife Teacher Conference. Her fast paced and powerful choreography can be seen on television (Hannah Montana), in music videos (“She’s No You,” Jesse McCartney), on live stage tours (Vanessa Hudgens), and in concert (High School Musical).
She’s danced on TV award shows—the Grammys, Oscars, MTV, and others; appeared in films such as The Wedding Planner and Forrest Gump; and worked with Jennifer Lopez, Kelly Clarkson, Britney Spears, Usher, Reba McEntire, and Paula Abdul.
And August 1 to 4, 2013, in Scottsdale, Arizona, O’Meara will work with the 700-plus teachers at the DLTC. For registration info, visit http://www.dancestudiolife.com/dltc/dltc-fees-info/.
The Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District is accepting applications for the ninth annual Dance Bethesda Concert, according to The Gazette.
Selected dance companies will be invited to perform in the concert, March 9, 2013, at Round House Theatre, and will receive a $600 honorarium. Auditions will be viewed by the Dance Bethesda selection panel which consists of Dan Joyce of the School of Dance at George Mason University; Elizabeth Walton of the University of Maryland Baltimore County; and Septime Webre, artistic director of The Washington Ballet.
Dance companies and choreographers located in Maryland, Virginia, or Washington, DC, are eligible to submit an audition application. All dance genres are eligible. Dance companies must have been in existence for at least two years. Choreographers are not required to have an established dance company. Selected performers must perform the piece submitted on the audition tape.
Auditioning companies and choreographers can apply two ways; apply online at www.bethesda.org or mail in a completed application and DVD including one performance piece that is 8 to 10 minutes in length, a resume including past performances, and a nonrefundable entry fee of $15. Applications must be received by November 16.
For a complete application, visit www.bethesda.org or call 302.215.6660.
To see the original story, visit http://www.gazette.net/article/20121017/NEWS/710179977/1151/dance-bethesda-accepting-applications&template=gazette.
Choreographer and dance teacher Peter Chu will participate in the 24 Seven Dance Convention, a tour of two-day workshops for aspiring dancers ages 5 to 19 that will visit 15 cities across the United States in 2012-13, culminating with a national dance competition in Las Vegas from July 14 to 19, 2013.
Launching next month, the brand new 24 Seven Dance Convention will present classes, choreographed routines, and an adjudicated competition over the course of a weekend, under the tutelage of a faculty that includes Sonya Tayeh, Danny Wallace, Lauren Adams, Brooke Pierotti, tWitch, Anthony Russo, Jess Hendricks, and Francisco Gella.
Chu, a 2002 graduate of The Juilliard School, has danced with Montreal’s BJM Danse Company, Crystal Pite’s company Kidd Pivot, Celine Dion’s Vegas spectacular A New Day, and was the lead character in Christina Perri’s “Jar of Hearts” music video. His choreography was featured on Season 9 of So You Think You Can Dance. His company, chuthis., will tour Nothing Sticks, inspired by the vaudevillian era, across the United States this spring.
The 24 Seven tour begins in Chicago on November 9 to 11 and will make stops in Phoenix, Denver, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston, Orlando, and Washington, DC, among other cities. Visit www.24sevendance.com for more information.
Legendary choreographer Paul Taylor was feted at a state dinner at the iconic Lotos Club on October 3 where he received the Medal of Merit, the club’s highest honor given to leaders in the arts and cultural worlds.
The Lotos Club, one of the oldest literary clubs in the United States, was founded in 1870 by a group of young writers, journalists, and critics. Frequent guests then as well as now include top scholars, musicians, painters and sculptors, art collectors, historians, novelists, and college presidents.
Past recipients include Gilbert and Sullivan, Ulysses S. Grant, Samuel Clemens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Woodrow Wilson, Enrico Caruso, Fiorello LaGuardia, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, Gloria Swanson, Harry Truman, Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco, Stephen Sondheim, Peter Martins, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Marilyn Horne, and Barbara Cook.
Lotos Club president Anne Russell read letters of praise from Baryshnikov, Ellsworth Kelly, and Alex Katz, all of whom have worked closely with Taylor. “Mr. Taylor embodies the tenets that the Lotos Club holds so dear: to promote and develop art, and encourage and inspire other artists and audiences alike,” Russell said. “It was a fitting tribute to such an accomplished and lovely man.”
Taylor has achieved countless accolades, including two of our nation’s highest artistic distinctions: the Kennedy Center Honors and the National Medal of Arts.
So You Think You Can Dance choreographer and former contestant Travis Wall has been keeping busy lately. In addition to his visits to SYTYCD season 9 (which included choreographing one of the finale dances), Wall now has his own reality show, All the Right Moves, on Oxygen. He recently spoke to BuddyTV about dance on TV and his own projects.
BuddyTV: What has it been like for you, coming back to So You Think You Can Dance as a choreographer after having competed on it?
Travis Wall: In the beginning, it was very surreal. I was like, “I’ve gotten the biggest opportunity. And this is crazy that I get to be a choreographer on this show. This is everything I wanted to do.” When I got first runner-up, I said I want to be a choreographer on the show. You know, I definitely connect to the contestants more, because I was in their position. So it’s sort of like an “I got your back” kind of thing here.
Nowadays, this season especially, I’ve walked in with a different hindsight. Every time I used to choreograph for the show, I always thought, “I’ve got to prove myself to them. I’ve got to prove that I’m a good choreographer.” And then this year, I’ve kind of come into my own a little more and I’ve got good experience as a choreographer in the industry for three or four years now. I’m so much more experienced and so smarter. And I feel like I do have a place here and I’ve come to, “I just have to prove it to myself and nobody else.”
BuddyTV: Do you have a favorite piece you’ve choreographed?
Travis Wall: Ahhhhh . . . yeah . . . [laughs] I feel like the pieces that just really touched me, that are timeless to me—I go back and I watch them and I know what that dance is about and what I was going through in my life at that time. The one about my mom, the “Fix You” one, that one will always be . . . just watching that will remind me of what I’ve been through in my life, going through that situation and what my mother’s been through. So those pieces really mean a lot to me.
To read the full interview, visit http://www.buddytv.com/articles/so-you-think-you-can-dance/exclusive-interview-choreograp-47391.aspx.
Who was Tony Stevens? Many things, not the least of which were a Broadway and film director/choreographer. But this man, who passed away on July 12, 2011, at age 63 of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, was much more than that to me, and to many others. In fact, my husband, George Fairfield, felt the need to record this man’s life; our documentary film, With No Regrets, Love Tony, is in post-production.
First, Tony was a teacher. He started teaching dance in New York in the early 1970s, mostly as a way to stretch and hone his own choreography. People came to class because they knew they would not only sweat and work, they would leave feeling exhilarated. I started taking Tony’s class in the early 1990s. I was terrible, but I didn’t care. I wanted to work hard for this man. And I did. Everyone did. He coaxed the best out of us. His style was his own, but influenced by the greats that he had worked with and for. We called his classes “The Church of George Michael.” He used George Michael’s Faith album for warm-up from the day it came out. When you took “The Church of George Michael” you felt the glorious spirit of dance living within you.
I remember the day I met Tony. I was auditioning for a production of Anything Goes that he was choreographing. I was pretty young, and I made it all the way to the final five girls. Four of them were hired. I was not. Well, that’s showbiz. But that’s not what stands out in my mind. It was a moment many months later, the day that Tony started teaching at Broadway Dance Center. Richard Ellner, the owner of BDC, started to introduce us and Tony interrupted him: “I know Crystal. She did a great audition for me.” I couldn’t believe he remembered me. In this business, with so many dancers in the audition pool, when someone remembers your name it shows how much the person cares.
Over the years Tony and I became friends. I was a loyal student and he was a phenomenal teacher. I had the privilege to dance for him in several productions and to assist him. But again, we’re talking about careers. Tony was more than a dance teacher; he was a teacher of life. He kept learning and he taught us to do that too. He was funny, a prankster and jokester. He could tell a story better than anybody (and about anybody).
Tony Stevens was born Anthony Pusateri in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1948, and grew up in nearby Herculaneum, where his mother owned a small general store and his father worked at a plate glass company. Tony showed his creativity at an early age, writing poetry and plays. In high school he was popular with all the “cliques,” somehow bringing all people together on equal footing—jock or nerd, it didn’t matter when you were with Tony. This was something he carried with him throughout his life.
After doing summer stock at the St. Louis Municipal Opera, he moved to New York, where he achieved his dream of becoming a Broadway gypsy. Starting with his first show, George Abbott’s The Fig Leaves Are Falling, he worked with the leading directors and choreographers of his time—Abbott, Gower Champion, Peter Gennaro. Soon he was assisting them. He appeared on television, including on The Ed Sullivan Show. He never stopped working.
When Tony decided to try his hand at choreography and presented a concert evening of his own work, it was a great success. Soon afterward he was hired to choreograph the film The Great Gatsby, starring Robert Redford, and then a Broadway show, Rachael Lily Rosenbloom, and Don’t You Ever Forget It—which, thankfully, most people never saw (it closed in previews) or have forgotten. It is considered one of the all-time great flops in Broadway history. And at the end, people were flocking to see it because the word was out how bad it was. Tony told me he actually pushed Stephen Sondheim out the door so he wouldn’t see it.
Tony was more than a dance teacher; he was a teacher of life. He kept learning and he taught us to do that too.
In the early 1970s, Tony and his friend Michon Peacock started talking about ways for dancers, at the bottom of the pecking order, to take control of their lives and be respected. They took their plan to choreographer Michael Bennett, who liked what he heard. They arranged an evening during which dancers could talk. And the eventual result was A Chorus Line.
Later, Tony joined Chita Rivera in a nightclub act directed by Fred Ebb (of songwriting duo Kander and Ebb). “Chita Plus Two” became the hottest thing in New York. It was so hot that Liza Minnelli produced it in L.A., where it became even bigger. Then Tony got a call from Bob Fosse to assist him on the original Chicago.
I could go on and on. There’s the film The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, television’s Broadway Plays Washington, Disneyland’s 30th Anniversary, and the Mary Tyler Moore variety show, Mary. Broadway, Off-Broadway, regional theater, film, television—Tony’s career spanned 45 years. But that’s not what matters most.
Tony touched everyone he encountered in a profound way. He touches me every minute of every day. He was a humble man who cared more about the journey than the outcome. I think that’s the lesson he would want us all to remember. That, and to take that journey with joy, passion, and humility.
Choreographer and dancer Rudi van Dantzig died at his home in Amsterdam on Thursday at the age of 78. He had been suffering from cancer for some time, according to Dutch News.nl.
Van Dantzig is regarded as one of modern ballet’s most innovative choreographers. With fellow choreographer Hans van Manen and set designer Toer van Schayk, van Dantzig revolutionized Dutch ballet.
Born in 1933 to a communist family in Amsterdam, van Dantzig was first drawn to dance at age 16 after seeing the film The Red Shoes. He managed to attract the attention of Dutch National Ballet founder Sonia Gaskell, who told him he was “not very talented but since we need boys you can come.”
In 1955 he made his first choreography for the company and, as its sole artistic director from 1971 to 1991, went on to make another 50 ballets, include Monument for a Dead Boy. He also wrote several books, including Remembering Nureyev, The Trail of a Comet, about his often-tempestuous relationship with the ballet star.
He received much praise for his writing, choreography, and tireless work on behalf of Dutch dance, and was awarded the Prix de la Critique and the Life Achievement Award from the Association Benois de la Danse.
“Rudi was an amiable person with a social conscience,” said van Manen, his colleague and friend for more than 60 years. “He was always standing up for minorities. The National Ballet would not be what it is if it hadn’t been for him.”
To see the full story, visit http://www.dutchnews.nl/features/2012/01/obituary_rudi_van_dantzig_chor.php.
Donya Feuer, an American modern-dance choreographer who moved to Sweden in 1963 and became a close collaborator of Ingmar Bergman as well as a theater director and filmmaker in her own right, died on November 6 in Stockholm, according to The New York Times. She was 77.
Feuer studied and performed with Martha Graham and was part of the experimental dance scene in New York in the late 1950s and early 1960s. In 1957, she performed in Paul Taylor’s 7 New Dances, a milestone as one of the first pieces to focus on everyday movement.
That same year, Feuer and the dancer and choreographer Paul Sanasardo formed their own company and school in New York, Studio for Dance. They pioneered full-evening modern-dance works and delved into highly theatrical explorations of the human personality.
Dance scholar Mark Franko said their role in the 1960s dance avant-garde was as important and influential as the better-known experiments of the Judson Dance Theater, the Times reported.
Feuer directed The Dancer, a 1994 documentary that followed the training of a Swedish ballet student. Her more experimental films included Nijinsky: A Life, and two collaborations with Bergman, The Magic Flute and Face to Face.
To read the full obit, visit http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/16/arts/dance/donya-feuer-modern-dance-choreographer-dies-at-77.html?_r=1
Robert Ivey, a distinguished dancer, choreographer, and artistic director who died July 15, will be remembered for the many lives he touched in the Charleston arts community, reported The Post and Courier this weekend.
Founder and artistic director of the Robert Ivey Ballet and director at the Robert Ivey Ballet School, he studied ballet at the American Ballet Theatre School while attending Columbia University in New York as a pre-med student in the 1950s. Ivey later would study at the Ballet Arts School in Carnegie Hall.
His professional credits included major roles on Broadway and in Europe, among them the New York and London productions of West Side Story, and his work earned numerous grants and awards. Ivey was a member of the Swedish State Theatre and Royal Norwegian Ballet and performed on European tours with such stars as E.G. Marshall, Sada Thompson, Esther Rolle, and Liv Ullmann.
Ivey had served as dancer and choreographer in residence for the Brevard Music Center and for the Spoleto Festival USA. He was a past president of the Charleston Area Arts Council and a professor of dance in the Theatre and Dance Department in the School of the Arts at the College of Charleston.
Colleagues said Ivey’s influence is felt widely in Charleston area artistic circles, and that his example would endure.
“The biggest thing I would say about Bob is that it is a huge loss to the Lowcountry, and that he will be sorely missed by a lot of the people in the arts, not only in the world of just dance, but all over the United States,” said colleague and friend Jill Eathorne Barr of the Charleston Ballet Theatre. “He has taught many young dancers a love of dance he loved so much himself.”
To read the full story, visit http://www.postandcourier.com/news/2011/jul/16/ivey-ballet-founder-dancer-dies/.
Producers of the troubled Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark have made an unusual choice for their new choreographer: Chase Brock, who choreographed the best-selling Wii game, Dance on Broadway.
According to The New York Times, although Brock has Broadway credits as an assistant to choreographers (on Wonderful Town and The Look of Love) and as a dancer (The Music Man), Spider-Man could be considered his highest-profile job to date. However, millions may actually be very familiar with his work. A year ago, Brock was selected to choreograph a Wii game, Dance on Broadway, that has become a top seller, and members of his small troupe, the Chase Brock Experience, were enlisted as models for the game’s avatars.
Brock was hired this week to help stage new musical numbers and script revisions during the show’s fifth and sixth months of preview performances before the scheduled opening on June 14. Daniel Ezralow, meanwhile, the well-respected choreographer who oversaw the current dance, acrobatic and flying numbers, is expected to continue to be listed in the show’s credits—much like the director Julie Taymor, who was sacked by the producers over creative disagreements.
For more information, visit www.artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/25/a-closer-look-at-spider-mans-new-choreographer/?ref=dance and www.artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/24/a-new-choreographer-for-spider-man.
Bruce Marks’ unique path through the worlds of modern dance and ballet
By Joshua Bartlett
Some people challenge conventional limits; Bruce Marks just ignores them. He was a modern dancer who became a ballet dancer. He completed makeovers on Ballet West and Boston Ballet, proving that he could be an equally effective artistic director and chief executive. He has worked closely with many of the titans of dance history. And he continues to teach, choreograph, and stage ballets with the zeal of someone 50 years younger.
Getting his start
Marks was born in 1937, the son of a Brooklyn truck driver who taught him gymnastics. When he was 13, Mr. Schacter, his eighth-grade physical education teacher, told him he was opening a dance school on Flatbush Avenue and gave him a scholarship to study tap and ballroom dance. Later that year, Marks’ homeroom teacher suggested that he audition for the new High School of the Performing Arts in Manhattan. He overrode his parents’ protests by reassuring them that it was a college preparatory, not vocational, school. The audition panel included dance critics Walter Terry and John Martin as well as legendary American Ballet Theatre ballerina Nora Kaye. At the same audition, another young dancer showed up—Edward Villella, who became a star at New York City Ballet and later, artistic director of Miami City Ballet.
At four-foot-ten Marks was short (he later grew to be six feet tall) with a huge jump, so he was put on the track of being a modern dancer. “I didn’t know what a career in dance was,” says Marks. “I didn’t know what concert dance was. I was to become a modern dancer.”
The modern-dance track
One of Marks’ teachers at HSPA was choreographer and Martha Graham dancer Pearl Lang, who gave Marks his first lead role. He performed with her company as her son in a polemical dance about war and chaos, called The Ironic Rite (later changed to Rites). “Here I was, a very serious child modern dancer reading nothing but contemporary poets like E.E. Cummings, T.S. Eliot, and Dylan Thomas,” says Marks in a joking tone.
When he graduated, he auditioned for Brandeis University, dancing a piece set to “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” He laughs at the memory. “How I danced that, I don’t know,” he says. But after a short period at Brandeis (“I was the entire male dance department,” he says. “They had a Hanya Holm style of training”), he opted to train at The Juilliard School instead, where he studied ballet with Antony Tudor. “He ‘adopted’ me, fell in love with me. We went everywhere together; he taught me about music, French cooking, and wine,” says Marks.
And the young protégé loved Tudor’s classes. “The enchaînement were very creative,” he says. “[Tudor] was very influenced by people like [August] Bournonville. It was about the detail and subtlety of getting your weight where it should be. He always said dance exists in the transitions. He was in love with the rise and fall, the breath of dance.”
Segue to ballet
Tudor, who was choreographing for the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, wanted Marks to audition there, explaining that he could have a paying job and still dance with Pearl Lang’s company. (In those days ballet dancers and modern dancers barely spoke to each other.) “I told him I didn’t want to be a ballet dancer and I didn’t want to be in an opera ballet company. Tudor said it didn’t really matter because I probably couldn’t pass the audition anyway. He was the original mind-game player. I said, ‘I’m taking the audition but not the job.’ ”
Marks got the job and took it. In 1956, he made his Metropolitan Opera debut in a solo in Lucia di Lammermoor, with soprano Maria Callas in the title role (her Met Opera debut in that role). During his career there, he performed numerous principal roles and partnered ballerinas such as Violette Verdy, Lupe Serrano, and Alicia Markova. So Marks became the modern dancer who morphed into a ballet dancer.
After five years at the Met, Marks auditioned for ABT and artistic director Lucia Chase offered him a soloist contract. Five days and a very sore body later (they threw everything at him), she made him a principal dancer. It was there that he met his future wife, Toni Lander, the Danish ballerina who became a revered ABT star. Marks ended up dancing a wide variety of ballets from Swan Lake to Miss Julie to Études to The Moor’s Pavane. Unlike most ballet dancers (particularly in those days), he had worked with choreographers across a wide spectrum—Martha Graham, José Limón, Tudor, Jerome Robbins, Agnes de Mille, and George Balanchine, who coached him in Theme and Variations.
In 1971 Marks and Lander went to Denmark for five years to dance with the Royal Danish Ballet. There Marks got a chance to dance many Bournonville roles, including James in La Sylphide, and modern works such as Paul Taylor’s role in Aureole. Lander died in 1985, but the couple had three sons and two grandsons.
A company of his own
After turning down an offer to head the dance department at SUNY Purchase (Marks wanted to form a company there, but he was told he would have to raise all the money for it), in 1976 he accepted Willam Christensen’s offer to co-direct Ballet West in Salt Lake City, Utah. In 1978, he became artistic director.
“When I went to Ballet West, they were doing Giselle with flexed feet, and I cried, thinking, ‘What have I done?’ ” he says. “I had to start from the beginning—and I did. I wanted to encourage new works and do credible, small versions of the classics.” During his tenure, the company presented its first full-length production of Swan Lake and became known for giving opportunities to emerging choreographers. He also revived an obscure Bournonville full-length ballet called Abdallah, which has an Aladdin-style plot. After Marks secured the libretto from Sotheby’s for $150, a team including Toni Lander and members of the Royal Danish Ballet consulted a librarian in Denmark, who had a record of the Bournonville choreography, and set the ballet in a streamlined fashion. A Saudi arms dealer helped secure half of the $350,000 needed to mount the ballet, Marks says.
Boston and beyond
In 1985 Marks took the position of artistic director of Boston Ballet. “When I arrived at Boston Ballet, I had about 700 new ideas,” he says. “I was like a 1,000-watt light bulb.” While there, he produced large productions of the classics, such as an American/Soviet production of Swan Lake, an acclaimed 1993 version of The Sleeping Beauty, the oldest existing version of Coppélia from the Royal Danish Ballet, and a traditional Russian production of Giselle coached by Natalia Dudinskaya from the Kirov Ballet. He also commissioned works from contemporary choreographers such as Twyla Tharp, Mark Morris, Merce Cunningham, Susan Marshall, and Bill T. Jones. He set up a children’s dance program in the city’s public schools and raised the money to build an impressive new home for the ballet with spacious studios. And when he brought ABT star Fernando Bujones in as a guest dancer, he raised the standard of dancing for the entire company, especially the men.
After 12 years he left, because he felt that his job was over. “For me the exciting thing was taking on the ugly duckling of ballet—everyone hated Boston Ballet. I would never again be able to quadruple the budget. I need the action, the fight,” he says.
Marks has made a name for himself as a prodigious fund-raiser as well as an esteemed director, a rare combination in the dance world. When asked about the secret behind his executive talents, he seems reluctant to reveal his full hand. “I’m not sure what it is. Maybe because I took two years of acting at the High School for the Performing Arts? I’m rather good at getting my message across,” he says.
According to Marks, when he arrived at Boston Ballet the company had a $4 million budget and a $2 million deficit, which he erased within three months. And Boston, he says, was not the easiest place to procure funding. “Everyone in Boston believes they should have the arts and someone else should do it,” he says. “There’s that whole Brahmin mentality.”
Since his departure from Boston, Marks has acted as interim director for Orlando Ballet (now directed by Robert Hill) and opened a consulting company called ArtsVenture, Inc. “I teach, coach, stage ballets, choreograph,” he says.
Marks as master teacher
Marks has plenty of ideas about teaching, which he will be doing at the 2011 DanceLife Teacher Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, this summer. The element he stresses most when he teaches is to get students to remember what it feels like to dance rather than to do ballet. “I always go back to Tudor and Doris Humphrey and Limón and the breath,” he says. “I always say dance is about the breathing and showing your humanity. Dance is about directly contacting the audience through a kind of openness.”
What he thinks is often missing in teaching is a sense of épaulement. “There are so many people teaching dancing by teaching the outside of ballet—the positions and how important they are,” he says. “I think it is wonderful if people put their legs behind their head. It doesn’t interest me much, but it seems to interest a lot of people. But I think it is really wonderful when dancers communicate directly with me through a kinesthetic response to dance. I want to be surprised by any kind of theater.” He readily admits that he is “bored with multiple everything” and that he thinks Bournonville was right in thinking that’s for the circus.
His favorite dancers include Gelsey Kirkland, for her risk-taking; Margot Fonteyn because of her ability to speak to the soul; Yuri Soloviev for the way he moved and used the ground; and Herman Cornejo for his combination of technique and artistry. As jury chairman of the USA International Ballet Competition, he was recently impressed by a junior gold medal winner, a young Portuguese dancer named Marcelino Sambé, for his ability to do just about anything.
His advice for dance school directors and teachers: There is more than one way to teach dance and there are different approaches to technique. “When I teach a master class, at the end I always say you are going to go home to your teachers and say, ‘Mr. Marks said this.’ And they are going to say, ‘That’s terrible.’ And you need to say to your teachers, ‘He knows that’s not the only way to do it. He did it differently in Copenhagen and New York, but it worked for him.’ ”
Marks admits he’s patiently waiting for the next revolution, the next reinvention of the full-length ballet that isn’t formulaic. “I can’t watch another Disney story not being as well done as Disney does it. I don’t want to see that in regional ballet,” he says.
Advocate for education
As for today’s dancers, he wants them to be kind to themselves, to listen to their bodies. “Take care of your injuries as soon as they arrive,” he says. “Don’t pray and hope they’ll go away.” And long gone are the days when Lincoln Kirstein used to rip books from the hands of ballet students at the School of American Ballet, saying they should be concentrating on only stretching and technique.
“I think the intelligent dancers are the most interesting,” Marks says. “They need to know about music, go to museums, they need to have a full life, have a full education about the visual arts and dramatic arts.” Because many dancers become directors and choreographers, he says, “they need to know how to talk to a designer and say, ‘No, I’m interested in a more Mondrian-like background, something geometric.’ I sometimes see the designs directors choose and realize they have never seen anything! So mind your education.”
At the 2011 DanceLife Teacher Conference, Marks will be talking a lot about the use of the torso. He will also be lecturing on his life in ballet. “There aren’t too many sons of Brooklyn truck drivers who have had the life and experiences I’ve had. Is it impractical to have a life in dance?” he asks. “Terribly impractical. But the impractical things in life are the only ones worth doing. My life has been all surprises because of dance. I am happy to say, as I enter my mid-70s, that it’s been a phenomenal life.”
Dr. Rennie Harris, internationally renowned hip-hop choreographer, dancer, educator, and black dance historian, will be appearing in two events at Stanford University, California, this week.
Harris was a pioneer of hip-hop, perfecting his style in the clubs and parties of North Philadelphia in the 1980s before bursting onto the naDtional and international stage. With his nearly two-decades-old company, Rennie Harris Puremovement (RHPM), he has enthralled audiences the world over and garnered three Bessie Awards, one Herb Alpert Award, and three Alvin Ailey Awards in the process.
Central to Harris’s work is the philosophy that, contrary to stereotypical (and often negative) portrayals of hip-hop in the commercial media, the art form has a unique ability to express universal themes that extend beyond racial, religious, and economic boundaries. To cultivate this message, Harris and RHPM have conducted lectures and seminars at universities and community centers nationwide.
“Rennie Harris in Conversation,” presented through The Aurora Forum at Stanford and Stanford Lively Arts, will feature Harris joined by Stanford drama faculty and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Harry Elam, whose scholarly work focuses on contemporary African American drama and performance. The event is set for January 20 at 7:30 p.m. at Stanford’s Pigott Theater. Admission is free.
Also, performances of Rennie Harris Puremovement will be held January 22 at 3:00 p.m. (family matinee) and 8:00 p.m. at Memorial Auditorium. A post-performance discussion with Bay Area choreographer Robert Moses will follow the evening show.
For performance tickets, call 650.725.ARTS. For more information on both events, visit http://livelyarts.stanford.edu.
On January 1, choreographer Wayne McGregor was named a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in the New Year honours list, according to a news article in The Guardian.
McGregor has spent 18 years at the cutting edge of choreography. The award was made in recognition of McGregor’s outstanding service to dance, a field in which he has become a world leader. He is choreographer-in-residence at The Royal Ballet, for whom he has produced a series of striking and critically acclaimed new works. His own company, Wayne McGregor Random Dance, has an international reputation for cutting-edge performance.
In 1995, with a piece called Cyborg, the dance world started to take serious notice of McGregor’s work. Cyborg was his first foray into new-tech dance, a style that he would make wholly his own. Marrying the sinuosity of contemporary dance to a fractured postmodernism, the McGregor style was distinguished by its rattlesnake speed, flickering detail, and extreme and often distorted physical articulation.
Alistair Spalding, artistic director of Sadler’s Wells, says: “Wayne’s radical approach to the creation of dance is absolutely essential to the future of the art form, so I am very glad that he has achieved such wide recognition.”
To view the full story, visit www.guardian.com.uk/stage/2011/jan/02/wayne-mcgregor-cbe-interview-jennings.
Tap artist Brenda Bufalino has just released a book of poetry, Circular Migrations, available for purchase at Codhill Press. An excerpt from the book:
“I could make a picture book with cut-outs
pop-outs and load-ins of Burrill Street long as
a cobra snaking from above the train station
all the way down past the monument to Kings Beach.”
Bufalino is a performer, master teacher, choreographer, author, actress, producer, and director. Choreographer and founder of the celebrated American Tap Dance Orchestra, she has been a trailblazer in the renaissance of jazz and tap dance and a guiding force in the creation of countless tap festivals and workshops world-wide.
She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts and was recently awarded the prestigious Flobert Award, The Tapestry Award, and The Hoofer Award for contributions to the field and lifetime achievement. When not on tour, Bufalino divides her time between New York City and New Paltz, New York. She has two sons and five grandchildren, as well as thousands of students around the world. To purchase the book, visit www.codhill.com.
Choreographers are encouraged to create new dance works through two Chicago-area grant programs sponsored by The Joffrey Ballet and Chicago Dancemakers Forum, a consortium of independent artists and representatives from the Museum of Contemporary Art, Dance Center of Columbia College, and alternative-performance venue Links Hall.
Creative Force: The Joffrey’s Choreographers of Color Award, is co-sponsored by the Sara Lee Foundation and will grant two recipients 18 or older $2,500 each and the opportunity to create choreography for academy trainees of the Joffrey Ballet. There is no application fee, and winners whose primary residence is more than 100 miles from the Loop will be provided with housing during the two-week creation period (dates to be announced in January and/or February, 2011). Deadline is November 1.
The Greenhouse Program will award $5,000 each to five emerging artists with two to nine years’ experience in dance making, either independently or through company affiliations, to support the creation of a new work. The creation period lasts six months beginning in January 2011, with tentative performance dates scheduled for June 24 to 26, 2011. Application deadline is October 22.
For more information, visit www.joffrey.com/news.
TV and recording-artist choreographer Luam will be teaching her style of hip-hop infused with African dance and street jazz this Sunday at Joy of Motion Dance Center, Friendship Heights, 5207 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.
The October 10 class will run from 5:30 to 8 p.m. and is for students of low-intermediate to advanced levels. In her master classes, Luam encourages her students to “pair their inner grooves with precision and emotion,” while exploring the rhythms and lyrics of the music.
Luam has choreographed for MTV’s “Hip-Hop Week,” As the World Turns, and Mastercard commercials, and has worked with Ciara, Mashonda, Nelly Furtado, Fergie, Busta Rhymes, Rihanna, and other recording artists. As a dancer, she performed with Ludacris, Kelis, Kanye West, Kevin Lyttle, and Ashanti, and she choreographed world tours for Taiwanese and Chinese platinum recording artists Amei, Elva, and Show.
The class costs $40 with advance registration and $50 the day of the event. To register in advance, visit www.joyofmotion.org.
Mary is a professional dancer who has built a career as a performer and choreographer on the international dance scene. She started dancing at the age of 4 at a local dance studio in small-town America, where one dance teacher (we’ll call her Helen) ran the entire show, from office manager to teacher to custodian.
Right from the start, Helen knew that Mary had something magical going on. The girl learned quickly, as though dance was as natural as walking. As Mary grew older, Helen felt it was her obligation to expose her to everything dance, so she took her to classes with master teachers, choreographed solos for her to perform in competitions, and even bought the dancewear and shoes that Mary’s parents couldn’t afford.
When Mary was 16, Helen took her to New York City to take classes and see several Broadway shows. One of the teachers she took class with was choreographing an industrial show, and she offered Mary a job dancing in it. But that meant staying in New York for two more weeks, and Mary’s mom could not afford to take the time off from work. As Mary was about to tell the teacher she couldn’t take the job, Helen jumped in to say that she would spend the two weeks with her.
Mary ended up in her first professional gig and loved every minute of it. Helen felt a huge sense of pride as she watched her young protégé learn the ropes of a professional dance career.
By the time Mary was 18, she had been offered a job in a Broadway show. As soon as she graduated from high school, she was off to the Big Apple to begin her professional career. For the first couple of years, Mary called Helen almost every day to give her updates on what was going on and to seek advice about what steps she could take to become more successful. Helen was in heaven knowing that she had helped her student achieve her dreams.
As the years went by, Mary called less and less often, leaving Helen feeling a bit underappreciated. Soon Mary stopped contacting her former teacher altogether. Then one day Helen turned on a nationally broadcast TV show and saw Mary being interviewed about a new Broadway show she was choreographing. The interviewer asked Mary about her early training, and she said, “I took dance at a rinky-dink studio; it wasn’t until I got to New York that my real dance training started.” She then went on to mention the names of all the teachers in New York who had influenced her career.
Helen’s heart was broken. She had given Mary every opportunity to succeed, and now her role was going unacknowledged. To make matters worse, Helen would hear occasionally that Mary had returned to her hometown for a visit, but she never called Helen. It was as though she thought she was too good to communicate with a local dance teacher.
After that, Helen guided many talented young people into the dance world, but never again could she bring herself to do what she had done for Mary. The hurt was just too much for her.
The story of forgetting where one comes from plays out in the dance world over and over again. If you have fond memories of a special teacher who set you on your path, you carry a little piece of him or her with you in whatever you do. Tell that teacher how he or she instilled a passion for dance in your soul. Send a note of appreciation, or pick up the phone. But whatever you do, don’t keep those memories to yourself.
Jacqueline Stewart, a Chicago-based dancer and choreographer, has won a $10,000 cash award to use toward the creation of a new dance work.
Stewart was the winner among 12 participants in The A.W.A.R.D Show!—a four-day competition from July 28 to 31 at the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago. (“A.W.A.R.D” stands for “Audiences With Artists Responding to Dance.”) Two runners-up, Michel Rodriguez/Hedwig Dances and Joanna Rosenthal/Same Planet Different World, were each awarded $1,000.
Each of the competition’s first three evening performances featured the work of four different choreographers, followed by a moderated discussion between artists and audience and an audience vote to select a finalist to perform again on the fourth night of the series. At the final performance on July 31, a panel of arts professionals along with the audience chose the winner of the $10,000 award.
The voting panelists included Lane Alexander, co-founder and director of the Chicago Human Rhythm Project; Homer Bryant, founder of the School of Bryant Ballet; Roell Schmidt, director of Links Hall; and Linda Shelton, executive director of the Joyce Theater Foundation, which partnered with the Dance Center to bring the competition to Chicago.
Jacqueline Stewart, a Chicago native, performed for three seasons with Duarte Dance Works Contemporary Dance and has danced for various other artists, including Deana Carter in Rimini, Italy, in 2006. In Chicago she made guest performances with The Dance COLEctive and The Seldoms and joined Thodos Dance Chicago in 2007.
The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago presents Alaska-born, Native American choreographer Emily Johnson and her company Catalyst in the Chicago premiere of The Thank-you Bar, also featuring the musical duo Blackfish. Performances are October 7 to 9 at The Dance Center, 1306 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago.
The Thank-you Bar, created by Johnson with composers/musicians James Everest and Joel Pickard (Blackfish), is an evening-length performance/installation of dance, live music, storytelling and visual image connecting ideas of displacement, longing and language to history, preconceived notions, architecture, and igloo-myth.
As part of Emily Johnson/Catalyst’s residency, there will be a post-performance discussion with the artists following the 9 p.m. performance on Thursday, October 7. Also, Johnson will lead a DanceMasters class at 6 p.m. October 4 at the Lou Conte Dance Studio at the Hubbard Street Dance Center. These classes are for dancers at the intermediate level or higher.
General-admission tickets to The Thank-you Bar are $26 to $30; because of the show’s space requirements, seating is extremely limited. For more information, call 312.369.8330 or visit www.colum.edu/dancecenter.
Owner/teacher, Pioneer Dance Arts, Inc; artistic director, Performing Company of Pioneer Dance Arts, Sequim, WA
NOMINATED BY: Bill Evans, dancer/choreographer. “KLee is a true educator. She was among the first graduates of my Certification Program in the Bill Evans Method of Modern Dance Technique. She has developed a true community of people who support each other in the study of dance and in all aspects of their lives. ”
GENRES TAUGHT: BrainDance, Bartenieff Fundamentals, Evans Modern Dance, classical ballet, pointe, pre-ballet, contemporary jazz, tumbling, tap, and ballroom.
WHAT IS BRAINDANCE? Developed by Anne Green Gilbert, BrainDance sequences through the movement patterns that wire the central nervous system. It connects and aligns all parts of the body and helps us to center and focus.
TEACHING DANCE FOR: 48 years. At age 10 I began teaching in my family’s garage.
WHO SHOWED UP AND WHAT DID YOU TEACH? School classmates were creating clubs; I decided on a dance club. I taught “Baby Sweethearts” and “Dancing Elves,” and dances with props for the older students.
WHY SHE TEACHES: At age 5, I was determined to have my own studio like Mrs. Katherine Fishback, co-founder of Fishback Studio of the Dance in Albuquerque.
WHAT DREW 5-YEAR-OLD YOU TO MRS. FISHBACK? She had the presence and carriage of a benevolent queen—perfectly groomed, hair swept up in curls and a French twist. She was kind yet strict, used castanets to direct our attention, and wore beautiful rings. Mrs. Fishback was like a second mom to me.
GREATEST INSPIRATION: Bill Evans has influenced my passion for dance the most. My journey with Bill began in 1979 and continues each day as I share this gift of dance education that opens the student to positive change in body, mind, and spirit.
PHILOSOPHY OF TEACHING: I try to maintain open communication and a comfortable creative environment: disciplined, respectful, and well mannered. My lessons are physically and mentally stimulating, emphasizing quality of execution. Every student is given equal importance and attention.
WHAT MAKES YOU A GOOD TEACHER: I present challenges as well as qualitative emphasis on familiar material. I begin with breath. We sing steps or count the music; using this technique I can incorporate the multiple intelligences of rhythm and verbal linguistics. Communicating through images enhances responses with all age groups.
FONDEST TEACHING MEMORY: I am grateful for students’ testimonies about how dance discipline and Bartenieff Fundamentals have influenced their lives. They have learned valuable organizational skills and the self-discipline to reframe. They are open to positive change, tolerant, patient, and adaptable. The ripple effect is gratifying.
BEST PIECE OF ADVICE FOR STUDENTS AND/OR TEACHERS: Begin within. Breathe fully. Feel the flow. Let go.
MORE THOUGHTS ON DANCE AND TEACHING: Through quality dance training, students experience improved mental and physical health. Dance can relieve daily stress and make us happier.
DO YOU KNOW A DANCE TEACHER WHO DESERVES TO BE IN THE SPOTLIGHT? Email your nominations to Arisa@rheegold.com or mail them to Arisa White, Dance Studio Life, 10 South Washington St., Norton, MA 02766. Please include why you think this teacher should be featured, along with his or her contact information.
An athletic dance-theater work for 10 dancers, MONGER fuses contemporary dance with humorous character narratives to tell the story of a group of servants trapped in the house of an abusive mistress. It was inspired in part by Jean Genet’s play The Maids and Robert Altman’s film Gosford Park.
The eclectic score includes music by Balkan Beat Box, Handel, Verdi, and Margalit Oved, the choreographer’s mother, who is a dancer and choreographer herself (she founded the Inbal Theater Dance Company) as well as a musician.
Marshall, born in Los Angeles, became the first-ever resident choreographer of Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company in 1999. His company has performed at the Berlin Festival, Hamburg’s Sommertheatre Festival, the Biennale de la Danse in Lyon, France, and the RomaEuropa Festival.
Tickets to MONGER range from $58 to $63. To buy them, visit jacobspillow.org or call 413.243.0745.
The choreographer will participate at 4 p.m. July 11 in a free PillowTalk titled 21st Century Renaissance Man that will explore Marshall’s many artistic experiences and roles.
Pennsylvania Ballet will present world premieres by Matthew Neenan, the company’s choreographer in residence, and Benjamin Millepied during its 2010-2011 season, the Philadelphia-based company has announced.
Both pieces are so far untitled. Neenan’s work, his 13th for Pennsylvania Ballet, will premiere October 21 on a bill with George Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco and Roland Petiti’s Carmen. Millepied’s piece, his first for the company, will debut April 14, 2011, alongside Balanchine’s Agon and Who Cares?
The season also will include two full-length ballets (in addition to Balanchine’s The Nutcracker)—Christopher Wheeldon’s Swan Lake (March 3 to 12, 2011) and Sir Frederick Ashton’s La Fille mal gardée (June 2 to 11, 2011).
Also, the company will perform a brand new version of the classic French ballet Pulcinella by Jorma Elo, choreographer in residence at Boston Ballet, at the first-ever Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts from April 7 to 10, 2011, in collaboration with the Philadelphia Orchestra.
For details on the company’s full program for the coming season, call 215.893.1955 or visit paballet.org. Individual tickets go on sale July 6.
The first annual Jersey Tap Fest will offer classes, a jam session, and a concert finale July 14 to 17 at the South Orange Performing Arts Center.
The festival is the brainchild of Hillary-Marie Michael, a New Jersey-born tap soloist, choreographer, and teacher.
The faculty, in addition to Michael, will include Harold “Stumpy” Cromer, Karen Callaway Williams, Maurice Chestnut, Nicki Denner, DeWitt Fleming Jr., Jeffry Foote, Yvette Glover, Jason Janas, Logan Miller, Deborah Mitchell, Sarah Reich, Jenne Vermes, Dorothy Wasserman, and Kyle Wilder.
Master classes are $30 for the first class and $25 for subsequent classes; tickets to the jam, student showcase, panel discussion, and the history and music theory classes are $10. Package deals are available, from $195 for a youth package for 8- to 12-year-olds to $325 for an “ultimate package.”
The festival-ending performance on July 17 will include Cromer, Williams, and many of the other faculty members, as well as Tap Con Sabor, the New Jersey Tap Ensemble, and other acts. Tickets range from $30 to $20.
To buy tickets or learn more, visit www.jerseytapfest.com.
Chinese-born choreographer Wen Wei Wang, who has lived in Canada since 1991, and Gao Yanjinzi, one of the founders of Beijing Modern Dance Company, will present a special preview of a collaborative work, Under the Skin, at The Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada, on June 4.
Under the Skin was created for 14 dancers from Wen Wei Dance and Beijing Modern Dance Company, with a score
by Italian-Canadian composer Giorgio Magnanensi. Its presentation at the center’s Eric Harvie Theatre is part of the Banff Summer Arts Festival. The official premiere will take place June 12 at the Canada Dance Festival in Ottawa.
Wen Wei’s In Transition is about the collision of past and present and the effect of culture on personal experience, while Gao’s Journey to the East explores the forces that divide and unite people. Collectively, Under the Skin is a dual investigation into the common ground of cultural and personal identity shared by performers from Canada and China, in a performance that combines traditional Asian dance, Beijing Opera techniques, acrobatics, and martial arts.
Tickets are $10. To order, call 1.800.413.8368 or visit www.banffcentre.ca/event/5025/beijing-modern-dance-company-and-wen-wei-dance.mvc?d=2010-06-04. For a complete schedule of Banff Summer Arts Festival events, visit www.banffcentre.ca/events/listings/by-category/banff-summer-arts-festival.mvc.
Armitage Gone! Dance will perform Three Theories, a contemporary ballet choreographed by the company’s artistic director, Karole Armitage, from July 14 to18 at the Jacob’s Pillow summer dance festival in Becket, Massachusetts.
Three Theories is set to a commissioned score by Rhys Chatham, Sangeeta Shankar’s South Indian classical Carnatic violin music, and John Luther Adams’ “Dark Waves.” It was inspired by physicist Brian Greene’s book The Elegant Universe, about efforts to resolve the clash between quantum mechanics and Einstein’s general theory of relativity.
Tickets range from $58 to $63. To order, visit www.jacobspillow.org or call 413.243.0745.
In June, Armitage will create a world premiere in just four days on the dancers of the ballet program of The School at Jacob’s Pillow. The new work, Red, calls for 22 dancers and will be set to a score by Christine Southworth. It will premiere at the Pillow’s opening gala June 19.
You don’t have to travel any farther than your couch or the nearest multiplex to sample the recent work of Monsters of Hip-Hop’s faculty choreographers. Marty Kudelka provided the creative direction for Travis Garland’s recent performance on American Idol, while Jamal Sims was lending a hand with the movie Step Up 3D, which opens August 6.
Chuck Maldonado, meanwhile, has wrapped up work on the film Stomp the Yard 2: Homecoming, due out this fall. And if you watched the season opener of Glee, you’ve already seen faculty choreographer Laura Edwards.
The first winner of the Koerner Foundation Distinguished Guest Artist in Choreography award from The Banff Centre is dancer and choreographer Kevin O’Day.
O’Day is the artistic director of Ballett Mannheim in Mannheim, Germany, and a former American Ballet Theatre soloist. He has performed with Twyla Tharp, New York City Ballet, and Mikhail Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project and has choreographed more than 30 original works for ballet companies in Europe and North America.
His latest work will premiere in July at the 2010 Banff Summer Arts Festival and will also be part of the coming season of Ballet British Columbia and Ballett Mannheim.
The mission of The Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada, is to help artists in dance and other media create and perform new work, provide resources for collaboration and research, offer postgraduate training in areas from opera to papermaking, and hold public performances, exhibitions, and conferences.
O’Day was chosen for the award by the artistic directors of companies participating in the center’s professional dance program, including Karen Kain of the National Ballet of Canada, Gradimir Pankov of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, Andre Lewis of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Jean Grand-Maitre of Alberta Ballet, Ballet British Columbia’s Emily Molnar, Bengt Jörgen of Ballet Jörgen, and Mikko Nissinen of Boston Ballet.
The Banff Centre also bestows the Clifford E. Lee Award in choreography biannually on an emerging Canadian choreographer. The 2010 recipient, Robert Stephen, is a second soloist with the National Ballet of Canada. He will travel to Banff this year to begin work on his Lee Award commission, and will premiere the work at the 2011 Banff Summer Arts Festival. For more information, visit www.banffcentre.ca.