When a principal, teacher, or parent walks into a room and sees 20 children rolling around on the floor and then leaping for the sky (learning about level changes), or jumping about like frogs (in a role-playing improvisation activity), they might not always understand what's going on. That's why Deborah Damast, clinical assistant professor and artistic advisor of the dance education program at NYU Steinhardt, offered up several responses as to why this type of movement—often a precursor to formal ballet/tap/jazz classes—is so very important.
The Fred & Adele Astaire Awards have a new name: the Chita Rivera Awards for Dance and Choreography, which took place last night to honor the best of theatrical dance and choreography from Broadway, off-Broadway and film.
"Choreography is critical to a show, and the dancers are often the unsung heroes. It's very important to have a specific award that honors those in such a hard-working and short-lived profession," says event producer Nikki Feirt Atkins, who is founder and producing artistic director of American Dance Machine for the 21st Century (ADM21).
What would it take to create a site-specific work in and around the Bates Mill Complex, a former textile factory in downtown Lewiston, Maine?
It was a question Bates Dance Festival executive director Laura Faure posed to internationally renowned site choreographer Stephan Koplowitz. Four years later, with a $100,000 budget, Mill Town will premiere this week, to close out the festival's 35th-anniversary season and will be Faure's final performance season with the festival.
Bridgit Lujan first pitched the idea of a flamenco course at Central New Mexico Community College several years ago. After a lengthy approval process, CNM offered its first flamenco course last fall—its first-ever dance class (along with a new African class). "The reason we have flamenco at CNM is because of the hard work Bridgit put into laying down a foundation," says Leonard Madrid, discipline chair of the college's theater and dance department. "She worked with the faculty and staff at CNM to create a space for flamenco."
"You know when people ask, 'Why does dance belong in K–12?'" asks middle-school dance teacher Michael Kerr. His response: "Well, why not? Not everyone who takes dance classes has the ambition of becoming a dancer, just like not everyone who studies science wants to become a scientist. That's a big revelation for my students. It changes the way they approach their work. I hope that when they walk out of my program, they will have a deeper appreciation for dance, be better-cultivated human beings and be more comfortable moving together."
Kerr has been teaching dance in New York City public schools for more than 20 years. Because of the success of the public middle-school dance program he created for Brooklyn's New Voices School of Academics & Creative Arts, he was one of five dance instructors to be featured in the 2015 documentary PS DANCE!, which examines the impact dance education programs have on NYC public school students and their daily learning.
When her teenage daughter asked for advice on pursuing a dance career, Kathryn Roszak realized she couldn't give her encouragement, despite her own experience as a dancer, teacher and dancemaker. Earning a living as a dancer is a challenge, and when you look at potential leadership opportunities? It's a rare opportunity—especially as a woman—even if you danced with a prestigious company.
But Roszak is determined to change that. Last May, she held the first Women Ballet Choreographers Residency at the Djerassi Resident Artist Program in Woodside, California, to improve visibility and funding for women choreographers. Her next event is in New York City this month: “Moving Forward—Women Ballet Choreographers East and West," a one-day event for 92nd Street Y's Dig Dance series. Roszak pitched the concept and worked with Catherine Tharin, curator for the Fridays at Noon series, to bring West Coast choreographers.
Danza Orgánica artistic director Marsha Parrilla uses movement rooted in multiple dance genres as a vehicle for social justice and women's rights in her dance-theater work. This month she brings her company to its first-ever creative residency at Jacob's Pillow.
“We're just thrilled with this honor—it's a huge milestone, and it comes during our 10th anniversary," says Parrilla, who also founded and produces an annual arts festival in Boston, We Create! Celebrating Women in the Arts.