On Monday, December 5, Dance Magazine recognized outstanding members of the dance community who have made invaluable contributions to the field. Honored that night: Dr. William Hamilton, ballerina Jenifer Ringer and choreographers Alexei Ratmansky, Yvonne Rainer and Kathleen Marshall. (Click their names to read about each artist.)

 

Though there were five tangible awards given that night, here are a few superlatives that deserve mention:

 

Most interesting fact:

Dr. William Hamilton, who was approached by George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein to be the official doctor for New York City Ballet and School of American Ballet, said this: “Mr. B was the first person that allowed us to establish therapy within the theater for the company.” So due to Mr. B and Dr. Hamilton, physical therapists working with dance companies is now, thankfully, common practice.

 

Happiest news mentioned:

Ballerina Jennifer Ringer is pregnant with her second child!

 

Best dry humor:

It’s a tie between Alexei Ratmansky and Yvonne Rainer’s acceptance speeches.

 

--Here, Ratmansky speaks about his upbringing at the Russian Bolshoi Ballet School during communist reign: “Our teacher never taught us about Baryshnikov; he was not allowed to. He knew if the word would be out, he would be fired. I knew the names of Balanchine, Ashton, of Robbins, and of Tudor. And I knew that Balanchine made a fatal mistake by going to America: He started to make meaningless, emotionless ballets that were just bare entertainment or intellectual exercises for capitalist states.”

 

--And after a film of Yvonne Rainer and Group (including Becky Arnold, Barbara Dilley, Douglass Dunn, David Gordon and Rainer) during a residency at ADF in 1969, Rainer frames her out-of-the-box and thought-provoking career:

“I am totally honored to be here with so many luminaries. I mean looking at this film, I couldn’t help thinking, ‘You call that dance?’ I guess that’s been my mantra for all these years.”

 

Best Dressed:

Sutton Foster: The short, camisole black romper with silver beads was absolutely stunning, and showed off her legs. Which, by the way are approximately a mile long.

 

Most blunt statement:

Mikhail Baryshnikov, who presented the first award to Dr. Hamilton, opened his speech with this zinger: “Anyone who knows me, knows that this event is not my favorite way to spend an evening. But when I was approached to present this award to Bill Hamilton, how could I resist? And this morning, as I was writing these few words, I realized that just my standing up here in front of you would be the best testament to Bill.” 

 

But the overarching best moment of all during the awards was when the awardees thanked their teachers, first and foremost, for their success. Here's what they said:

 

Ringer:

There were four people who brought me back to loving dance, and the first was my ballet teacher, Nancy Bielski, who has taught me since I was 14. I bumped into her on the street, and she said, "You know, just come and take my class. You can take for free. I don’t care what you look like or how you dance. I just think it’d be nice for you to move to some music." And I did. She gave me a supportive environment with no judgments in which I could just go and take class. And I started to love to dance again.

 

Rainer:

I studied with Merce Cunningham, and he opened up a whole new world of possibility for me—Cunningham and John Cage. I quickly realized that I wasn’t fit to join his company—my legs too short, torso too long, no turnout. But Merce opened up a way to think about the body and think about movement in a whole new way, and his early dances were truly revelatory to me.

 

Ratmansky:

When I met John [Meehan], he brought my wife and I to Canada. At the beginning I was skeptical; what could he teach me? I know about Sleeping Beauty, a little more than him I thought. But he said, "When you do double assemblé, you push from the floor with a lttle more force." And when I found myself higher in the air, I started to trust him. Then came Merrill Ashley, and she said, "Cross your legs when you do tendu." …I realized there is so much more in ballet than I knew… There are many other styles and by learning different things you can only enrich yourself.

 

Marshall:

I didn’t start dancing until I was 13; I thought ballet was for snobby little girls on Saturday mornings, and I didn’t want to have any part of it. But then when I became more interested in musical theater, I found dance was something I could do, and started taking ballet class with Mario Melladia. It was a packaged deal with ballet and tap. I had no interest in tap, but tried it because it came with the package, but I’m glad I did! We wouldn’t be here without people that helped us along way, and those are my teachers.

 


CLICK HERE TO WATCH HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE EVENING.

 

 

In Motion's senior company dancers and Candice after a showcase performance in Bermuda, (2016). Photo courtesy of Culmer-Smith

When I was 23, an e-mail circulated among my former college dance classmates at Towson University, regarding a teaching position as the jazz director at the In Motion School of Dance studio in Bermuda. I applied, and after a few e-mails, I got offered the job.

Four weeks later, I packed up my tiny little car in Denver, where I was a dancer for the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, and drove across the country to my hometown in Maryland, before flying out for my new life in Bermuda.

Looking back now, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I didn't have time to think through how I should prepare and what I needed to do to officially apply for a work permit. I was mostly concerned with how I was going to pack all my clothes and belongings into two suitcases. If I could go back, I wish I would've had a more specific guide to what teaching in another country entailed.

In an effort to share my experience, here's what I wish I would've known before I left and what I learned over my 10 years living and working as a dance teacher abroad.

Keep reading... Show less
At age 12, doctors advised Paige Fraser to stop dancing and have surgery. Instead, she chose physical therapy and team of chiropractors and massage specialists to help work through her condition. She has just begun her 5th season with Visceral Dance, based in Chicago.

Scoliosis is a condition in which the spine, when viewed from the back, has one or more curves. The vertebrae are abnormally rotated, which creates twisting and more prominent visibility of the rib cage on one side, and it is most commonly seen in adolescents ages 10 and older. Most cases cannot be reversed, but they can be controlled, for example dancer Paige Fraser who despite suffering from severe scoliosis, has thrived as a dancer. Dance teachers can play an essential role in spotting the condition at an early stage.

“Teachers can help to notice that scoliosis is there in the first place," says Sophia Fatouros, a New York City–based dance teacher and and former professional ballet dancer who has struggled with scoliosis since she was 12. “Parents do not always see their children in tight clothes, like leotards."

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Health
Sebastian Grubb (right) runs Sebastian's Functional Fitness in San Francisco. Photo courtesy of Grubb

From improved aerobic capacity to better reactivity, cross-training can to do wonders for dancers' health and performance. But with the abundance of exercise programs available, how do you get your dancers on the right routine?

Sebastian Grubb, a San Francisco–based fitness trainer and professional dancer, shares three questions to ask as you consider different cross-training options.

Keep reading... Show less
Videos

When choreographer Cristian Faxola learned he had two days to create, develop and shoot a music video as an audition to choreograph for The Squared Division production house, he and his team embraced the challenge.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Health
Thinkstock

I have heard you say that tight hamstrings prevent full extension of the knees and that you prefer hamstring stretches in a standing position, rather than on the floor. Can you explain why?

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers & Role Models
Photo by Tim Trumble, courtesy of Arizona State University

Many parents discourage their teenagers from majoring in dance because of fear that their child will become a struggling artist in an unforgiving city, only to end their career in injury. But a dance degree can lead to other corners of the profession, such as marketing, physical therapy and arts administration. "Parents always say their children need something to fall back on," says Daniel Lewis, former dean of the dance division at New World School of the Arts. "They only see the stage time, applause and flowers. But there's choreographing, teaching, PR—the careers are endless."

Others are more concerned with disappointment. "Your daughter doesn't have to be a major ballerina with ABT to be successful," says Lewis. "If she wants to be a dancer, she'll find the work. There's a certain amount of training you have to achieve before you even get accepted into a good college, so if you have the talent, and the drive, you can make it."

As mentors, teachers can be monumentally influential on students' college decision processes. Read on to hear from three dance majors who feel grateful they chose this path—and share their words with your students!

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers & Role Models
To show her support for local studios, Kelly Berick requires all her students to be enrolled in an after-school program. Photo by Stephanie Csejtey, courtesy of Akron School of the Arts

When Kelly Berick began teaching high school students at Ohio's Firestone Community Learning Center within Akron Public Schools 21 years ago, she was newly engaged, newly licensed to teach K–12 dance and thrilled to land what she considered the perfect job. Her enthusiasm quickly soured, however, when after two weeks of teaching she called a local studio to introduce herself. "The owner told me her students didn't like me, didn't like what I was doing and were going to quit my program," she says. Her class of seven became a class of three.

Keep reading... Show less

Sponsored

Videos

Sponsored

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox

Win It!

Sponsored