For the past 17 years, the Martha Hill Fund has been honoring the commitment to dance education and international performance embodied by its namesake. Previous award winners have included Carla Maxwell, former artistic director of Limón Dance Company, former Ailey II dancer Frederick Earl Mosley and Mark DeGarmo of Mark DeGarmo Dance.
This year's awards gala takes place tonight at the Manhattan Penthouse in New York City. Check out who's being honored.
For Parisa Khobdeh, music does more than set the tone for a piece—it's enabled her to connect with movement. And once she joined Paul Taylor Dance Company in 2003, Taylor's body of work deepened this connection. "His choreography showed me the music, the architecture and the space," she says. "I now see the music."
With a career spanning 30-plus years in the dance field, Anneliese Burns Wilson has cultivated a unique perspective on health and injury prevention for dancers. From teaching ballet to teaching anatomy, she then founded ABC for Dance, which publishes dance-teaching materials. Now through research for her next book, which will focus on training the female adolescent dancer, she's delving even deeper into topics many dance teachers have overlooked.
Oversexualizing young kids has been a hot topic among dance teachers in recent years. It's arguably the most controversial topic teachers and studio owners are faced with. Deciding which choreography, music or costumes are appropriate—or not—isn't always black and white and can be easily overlooked. Is showing the midriff too much for minis? Is this choreography too provocative? Is this popular song too suggestive for a competition piece? The questions can seem endless with no clear objective answers. Until now.
In 2012, Broadway choreographer Chet Walker re-created 26 moments of Jack Cole's work at Queens Theatre in Heat Wave: The Jack Cole Project. He invited friends and colleagues like Chita Rivera, Broadway dancer Marge Champion and Stephen Schwartz, composer of Pippin and Wicked. "How come I don't know about this guy?" Schwartz asked after the show. Chet reminded him what film star Julie Newmar once said, "Only the important people know who Jack Cole is."
With barres lining the charming Harlem Stage, a group of young students from Dance Theater of Harlem and Harlem School of the Arts emerged from the wings. Among them was the petite ballet superstar, American Ballet Theatre principal Misty Copeland. Harlem Stage in association with Dance Theater of Harlem and the Harlem School of the Arts presented the class designed to give these aspiring dancers the chance to engage with a professional artist.
The students, filled with nervous excitement, took their places. "Relax, have fun and let's learn something," said Copeland.