Each summer, the Steps with Contemporary Masters program at New York City’s Steps on Broadway offers an introduction to the repertory and style of some of contemporary dance’s most renowned choreographers. Over the course of 13 weeks, each presents a week of daily workshops detailing his or her style and technique, allowing dancers and teachers to explore new movement approaches. On the roster for 2008 are Jacqulyn Buglisi, Donald Byrd, Robert Battle, Dwight Rhoden, Desmond Richardson and Nathan Trice, among others.
The format of each workshop, which meets for an hour and a half Monday through Saturday, depends on the artists, who either bring in a piece of current repertory to explore or use class time to create new material with students. Past workshops have also featured panel discussions on such topics as the
economics of choreography and the relationship between dancers and
choreographers. At the culmination of each session, Steps provides studio space for choreographers who wish to audition participants for their own
companies and works.
Participants may choose to take one or all classes offered by a particular artist, or attend more than one workshop throughout the summer. Diane Grumet, co-artistic director and managing director of Steps, sees the program’s flexibility as a boon for busy professionals. “A lot of teachers don’t have time to commit to a full program,” she explains. “They can get a lot out of one class or one experience with these artists.”
Grumet works to add at least one new name to the selection of artists per season. Meanwhile, many return year after year, as do students and, in particular, teachers, who gain creative tools for both classroom and stage. “Teachers can come, and within a short period of time, experience a new approach to choreography and have something to bring back to their own students,” says Grumet.
This year’s series began on June 2 and runs through August 30. A full list of master artists is available online. There is no audition or application process, but participants are expected to have at least an intermediate to advanced level of experience. Info: Steps on Broadway, 2121 Broadway, New York, NY 10023; 212-874-2410; firstname.lastname@example.org;
Known as a pioneer for dance education within Utah’s school system, the Salt Lake City–based Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company continues to keep the field of dance and its educators moving forward through its workshops. Begun as choreography labs in the 1980s for such visiting luminaries as Alwin Nikolais, Murray Louis, Doug Varone and Pascal Rioult, among others, the company’s current incarnation of the teacher’s modern/contemporary-focused summer workshop “provides participating educators with a much needed psychological and inspirational boost, as well as physical and practical information in preparation for their next year of teaching,” says Jessica Ballard, Ririe-Woodbury PR and marketing director.
Workshop instructor Kay Anderson, a former company and master class teacher at the Nikolais and Murray Louis Dance Company, believes in honoring not only the skills of the teacher, but those of the inner performer and choreographer, to facilitate a complete artistic renewal. The workshop is set among Utah’s pastoral desert and mountain scenery, and participating teachers will experience tailored technique exercises, theory and improvisation classes, choreography, discussions on the state of the dance field and even tap dancing. (A favorite past workshop theme is immediacy—learning to be present in the moment by analyzing and deconstructing the immediate movement response to unexpected noise.) Educators may also take one or two of the remaining weeks from a concurrently running workshop for dancers (at a reduced rate) that focuses on technique, improvisation, choreography, body conditioning, African dance and Capoeira.
“The experience is far beyond any other dance class I have ever attended,” says Jody Jensen, a dance company teacher at Cyprus High School in Magna, Utah. “Not only are you taught by such inspirational giants in the dance world, you are also surrounded by other educators.” DT
Lee Erica Elder is a freelance writer in New York City.
Photo by Fred Hayes, courtesy of Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company
Prospective participants: Designed for teachers working in the university, professional and secondary school settings
Program: The Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company’s Move-It Teacher’s Summer Workshop
Date/time: July 27–31, 2009; Monday–Friday, 9 am–4 pm
Location: Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, 138 West 300 South, Salt Lake City, Utah
Registration: $210, Utah teachers $110 (after June 1, 2009)
Accreditation received: Participants receive a Ririe-Woodbury certificate of hours earned, which can earn licensure points through the State Office of Education and lead to salary increases. The workshop may also be taken for University of Utah credit, which can be transferred to other schools.
Directors/founders: Artistic director and choreographer, Charlotte Boye-Christensen (Milwaukee Ballet, Singapore Dance Theatre, New Danish Dance Theatre and the Bauhaus); co-founder and managing director, Joan Woodbury (the first Fulbright scholar in dance, under legendary choreographer Mary Wigman); and co-founder, Shirley Ririe (United States delegate to Dance and Child International)
Fun fact: In 2003, the Nikolais/Louis Foundation for Dance selected Ririe-Woodbury as the dance company to house the works of the late modern dance innovator Alwin Nikolais, and the company’s performances of his work have received outstanding recognition around the globe.
Contact: Jessica Ballard, PR and marketing director, Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, 138 West 300 South, Salt Lake City, Utah 84101; 801-297-4213; email@example.com; www.ririewoodbury.com
In 2001 Olie Westheimer, executive director of Brooklyn Parkinson Group, began brainstorming how dance could benefit Parkinson’s disease patients. Mainly, how could it bring grace and control to their daily movement? She approached the Brooklyn-based modern dance company Mark Morris Dance Group about offering studio space, teachers and a musician for a specialized dance class, Dance for Parkinson’s Disease. David Leventhal and John Heginbotham, both 10-year veteran MMDG company members, jumped on board to teach the monthly Dance for PD class and work with Westheimer to develop a unique curriculum. Within two years classes became weekly, and MMDG faculty member Misty Owens, a professional tap dancer, joined the class.
The results have been positive: Leventhal has witnessed many participants become better dancers and more expressive in their movement. Dancing also helps Parkinson’s sufferers gain confidence, allowing them to feel liberated from the disease’s constraints, and it teaches them to use their brains and bodies to move more gracefully. The Dance for PD class model has been replicated throughout the United States, in London and in Toronto, Canada. And due to the method’s growing success, MMDG and BPG started offering a customizable teacher-training component in 2006 to help teachers gain deeper understanding of the disease and how dance can improve Parkinson’s sufferers’ lives.
Dance for PD teachers-in-training work with facilitators to create a course syllabus that follows the class’ structure but expands upon it to fit the needs of each teacher’s physically challenged students. “Workshops are scheduled in response to demand, and in response to specific program expansion needs,” says Leventhal. “For certain groups, we design a general workshop that introduces them to our core philosophies and methods, and it is designed to be the first of several training sessions that get progressively more detailed. For other teachers, we offer a specific course with a syllabus based on the principles and classic exercises that form the backbone of our class.”
Along with detailed information sessions to introduce core methods and exercises, teachers will observe class to view warm-up and across-the-floor routines that incorporate various style elements, including ballet, tap, modern, flamenco, musical theater, folk, salsa and Mark Morris repertory, set to energizing live music. Participants will also have access to medical lectures on basic background information, along with expert Q&As featuring several New York–based Parkinson’s neurologists. Trainees even get the opportunity to teach a Parkinson’s class. “We offer a hands-on practicum as part of every workshop,” says Leventhal, adding that this allows the teachers-in-training to get immediate feedback about their new material and overall teaching style. But perhaps most valuable, teachers get the opportunity to connect with colleagues to exchange ideas and contacts, thereby spreading the word about using dance as a teaching tool for Parkinson’s patients and other movement-challenged populations. DT
Prospective participants: “We ask that the people who teach our method be developed dance artists who have spent time honing their craft and can share their insight and inspiration with the Parkinson’s community,” says Mark Morris Dance Group company member and Dance for Parkinson’s Disease instructor David Leventhal.
Date/time: Contact MMDG for dates of upcoming workshops.
Location: MMDG’s studio in Brooklyn, New York. Past workshops have also taken place in London, Seattle and Berkeley, California.
Cost/housing: “Training workshop costs are reasonable, but they depend on the objectives and location of the workshop and its intended participant profile,” says Leventhal. MMDG can suggest local hotels, with possible special rates, if needed.
Accreditation received: None. A certification program is currently in development.
Director/founder: Olie Westheimer, executive director of the Brooklyn Parkinson Group, studied ballet as a youth with a member of the Royal Academy of Ballet. She has also served as executive director of the Association for Research in Nervous and Mental Disease, and she is an experienced medical writer/editor.
Contact: Eva Nichols, Director of Education, Mark Morris Dance Group; 3 Lafayette Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11217; 718-624-8400; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.mmdg.org
Photo by Katsuyoshi Tanaka; courtesy of Mark Morris Dance Group
Imagine a nationwide arts-in-education programming organization, where teachers can receive tailored professional development training—in the convenience of their own classrooms. Approaching its 60th year of service, the New York City–based Young Audiences Arts for Learning programs connected 4,600 artists with more than 7 million children in 7,000 schools this past year.
Over the years, YA has grown to include a geographically diverse network of 30 affiliates with trained teaching artists who aid the organization in spreading positive arts learning to schools and teachers across the country. The affiliate teaching artists bring nationally funded network projects into local schools and communities through performance demonstrations, workshops and residency programs.
Affiliate staff members also provide professional development and training for teachers to coincide with the YA program being implemented into their school. YA’s training method focuses on the artist/teacher relationship, assessment, child development, classroom management, content, motivation and presentation skills, and it’s used to assess participants’ teaching competency. Professional development is based on a signature framework—experience it, understand it, create it and connect it—to help educators explore new ways of connecting the arts with academic lessons.
“There is a layering of mentoring to build this kind of leadership. Our rubric became a springboard for how teaching artists would work with classrooms, with students and with teachers,” says Dr. Janis Norman, YA’s director of education, research and professional development. “It provides not only standards but also a framework of how and what they need to be able to do to prepare for programs.”
The two network projects most commonly implemented are Arts for Learning Lessons and the MetLife Dance for Life. The A4L Lessons project offers a training module to enhance student literacy in grades 3–5 through arts-based instruction. One of its segments is called “Words In Motion,” where participants spend three to six hours (with follow-up coaching, as needed) on teaching concepts such as forming shapes and levels, moving in place, moving through shared space and using forms of energy like swinging and shaking to create choreography.
The MetLife Dance for Life program offers residencies both in school and after school to encourage K–12 students to appreciate the physical, emotional and intellectual benefits of dance. Janice Oliver, a former program participant and teacher at Holly Ridge Primary School in Denver, Colorado, can testify to the program’s positive impact: “Watching the students learn, work together and perform with a joyful, excited spirit is certainly a measure of success.” DT
Prospective participants: Nationwide dance teachers, classroom teachers, physical education teachers, college dance majors and teaching artists, seeking professional development
Date/time; registration; location: TBD by program; teachers interested in participating should contact Dr. Janis Norman or view the Young Audiences’ network list online.
Accreditation received/requirements: Varies, but professional development is usually supported by local school districts and may provide an opportunity for teachers to earn professional-development credit. The training may also be offered in collaboration with a college or university, as part of a course for credit. Teachers may receive supplemental materials such as DVDs, guiding literature and training journals.
Director/founder: Director of education, research and professional development for YA Arts for Learning, Dr. Norman is a tenured full professor at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts. Dr. Norman was also chair of the steering committee for teacher certification and training in Pennsylvania. The former Pennsylvania Art Educator of the Year is currently on the committee for the national Arts Education Partnership and the Arts for Children and Youth in Philadelphia initiative.
Fun fact: In 1994, YA Arts for Learning was the first organization to ever be awarded the prestigious National Medal of Arts by the White House.
Contact: Janis Norman, PhD, director of education, research and professional development, Young Audiences, Inc.; 610-688-6141; email@example.com; www.youngaudiences.org
Lee Erica Elder is a freelance writer in New York City.
Photo by Eric Griswald, courtesy of Young Audiences Oregon and SW Washington affiliate
Nestled in a historic building that was once a Catholic school (now featuring eight dance studios and a full-service production studio), near the idyllic Finger Lakes in Auburn, New York, the New York Institute of Dance and Education is molding dance teachers into “triple-threat” educators. A unique, two-year certification program—focusing on business administration, dance education and performance—trains teachers in all aspects of the industry, from running a studio or company to landing teaching jobs.
NYIDE’s teacher-training program came into being nearly 20 years ago, after President and Director Sean McLeod, then a recent graduate of the Conservatory of Dance at Purchase College, experienced career-changing inspiration while studying with Broadway Dance Center founder Richard Ellner in New York City. “Richard gave in a way that was extraordinary, never with the slightest hint that he wanted something back,” says choreographer and lecturer McLeod, who has taught at Purchase and Howard University, among many others. “We don’t refer to people as students, but as clients, as a reminder that we work for them, and they don’t work for us. That’s a premise we promote, and we have watched it create opportunities for accomplishment in dancers and educators.”
A day-in-the-life of a certification-program client begins with business training. Taking class lessons into the field, teachers shadow NYIDE staff to learn how to write proposals, do cold-call marketing, set up training sessions, book events, seek out corporate funding, trademark creative ideas and understand logistics, among others. “Teachers have to understand a corporate vocabulary to get past ‘hello’ when it comes to true funding,” says McLeod.
The daily schedule continues with technique and training classes, followed by rehearsals for the NYIDE modern dance company, Kaleidoscope Dance Theatre. Clients also have the opportunity to perform with KDT. For those who wish to teach, the course of study teaches how to make corrections and adjustments, use McLeod’s trademark kinesthetic methodology (Reinforced Motor Function), work with parents and understand basic principles of child development.
“If you pay attention and truly absorb everything there is to offer, you will leave this program knowing all you need to start and operate a business of your own,” says former graduate Jerami Kipp, a SUNY Purchase dance major and NYIDE American Master Class Tour instructor.
Those unable to relocate to upstate New York may opt for a customized distance-learning program. This can include a mix of master classes, telephone sessions, online classes and/or DVD lessons. Another option is to attend the two-week teacher-training intensive during the annual New York Dance Festival, held every July in the Finger Lakes region. Teachers can also receive training at NYIDE’s two affiliate schools: the Landing Dance Center in Vancouver, British Columbia, and Dance4Life Training Institute in Wilmington, Delaware.
Dance teacher Carol Bryan, a former American Ballet Theatre dancer, booked private career consultations with McLeod instead of going to the school to broaden her teaching and business skills. She credits the sessions for expanding her teaching ability and public presence, which led to speaking opportunities with NYIDE. Bryan now freelances at schools throughout Connecticut and Westchester, NY, and she produces an annual dance festival called DanceFest. “McLeod opened my mind and my eyes to a broader spectrum of teaching and of education in dance,” says Bryan.
“It’s not enough just to be a teacher,” says McLeod. “Your job is to work so hard at constantly expanding your information base that students will always want to come back to you. That is what the future dance teacher must evolve into if our profession is going to survive this tumultuous economic time.” For more information, visit www.nyide.com.
Want to know more?
Here, Director Sean McLeod shares a few examples of advice you’ll hear as a client of The New York Institute of Dance and Education:
- Be willing to make mistakes. When the teacher is the person most accepting of failure, then students will follow.
- Realize that your responsibility is to help students achieve their wants. If you put them on their desired track to be a professional dancer and they stop trying, don’t get angry. Simply recalibrate what they require of you.
- Collaborate; don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Find someone who has what you need, then offer them something you have and work together.
- Go beyond your comfort zone. Is there a teacher or studio you dislike? Make it a goal to figure out how to work with them—you just might learn something.
- A great teacher’s job is to relieve students of the sense that they would be “less than” if they leave your studio. It’s their duty to grow beyond your walls.
- Practice “industry elevation.” Success is defined by how many people you carry along the way. When you share knowledge with others, or help them on your road to success, the dance industry will elevate as a whole.
- The best way to tell if someone knows something is to watch them teach it. If you cannot first explain it, you cannot teach it.
Lee Erica Elder is a freelance writer based in New York City.
Photo by Brian Morey, courtesy of New York Institute of Dance and Education
The New Jersey SummerDance 2009 program is more than just a workshop—it’s a dance education revival for teachers and students seeking inspiration. Begun in the early 1990s, the weeklong interactive event, hosted by the Union, NJ–based Carolyn Dorfman Dance Company, provides master classes in modern and cultural dance technique, repertory and composition, while exploring other dance-related topics, like film and dance criticism. Its challenging class setting draws from the CDDC repertory, with an emphasis on center-driven movement, weight transfer, breath phrasing, musicality and strong technique. This year featured guest artists will teach master classes/workshops, including “Choreography for the Camera I and II” (Susannah Newman), “Folk Dance of the Philippines” (Mica Bernas) and “The Dancing Life” (Carolyn Dorfman and Company).
The program culminates in a community-wide company and participant performance—a marriage of the learning and integration that is a trademark of Dorfman’s teaching aesthetic. “The artist training focuses on three levels: the instrument; the thinking, feeling, creative human being; and the ensemble—dancing as part of a community,” she says. SummerDance alumna Michelle Perosi, of the Union County Vocational Technical School Academy for Performing Arts, calls the workshop “challenging, inspirational, intimate and resourceful,” and credits Dorfman with “opening my heart, mind and body to absorb whatever more you have to provide!” DT
Prospective participants: Intergenerational program open to students and teachers seeking dance immersion and professional development
Date/time: August 17–21, 2009; Monday–Friday, 9:30 am–4:30 pm
Location: Kean University, (D’Angola Building), 1000 Morris Avenue, Union, New Jersey 07083
Registration: $325, includes all classes, materials and a CDDC T-shirt. (Lunch is not provided.) CDDC will award a limited number of scholarships to participants, based on financial need, to cover tuition and transportation.
Director/founder: Artistic Director Carolyn Dorfman founded her company, CDCC, in 1982. She holds a BFA in dance from the University of Michigan, with certification to teach K–12, and an MFA degree from New York University’s Tisch School for the Arts, respectively. She leads residencies on professional development and master classes at major universities nationwide. Dorfman has received five choreography fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and won the Jewish Women in the Arts Award for Dance in 2004.
Fun fact: SummerDance participants with a love of the camera, sewing machine or director’s chair can explore their behind-the-scenes dreams through “The Making of Art”—a workshop where experienced composers, costume and lighting designers and stage managers will discuss the art of creation.
Contact: Carolyn Dorfman Dance Company, 2780 Morris Ave, #1-A, Union, NJ 07083; 908-687-8855; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.cddc.info
The Eveoke Dance Theatre’s two-year Teacher-Training Program (TTP) was created in the fall of 2005 for Eveoke teachers and other dance educators looking to further their expertise, particularly those who want to bring dance into academic classrooms and other community-based settings. “The philosophy of the program is that every student and teacher has the capability to be a limitless artist who uses intention both in their life and in their dance,” says Program Director Erika Malone. The 6,500-square-foot San Diego, California–based theater also houses a professional modern dance company and performance group, apprentice and youth performance groups, plus on-site dance classes. It conducts more than 50 weekly classes in San Diego outreach programs, as well.
TTP participants will create lesson plans and choreography, and learn how to blend dance elements with core academics, while taking technique classes in modern, ballet, jazz, yoga and hip hop. The course covers a range of teaching aspects like classroom management, personal growth, leadership and community building, using intention and imagination, and the multiple intelligences theory developed by Harvard professor Howard Gardner. There is a strong focus on teaching students with low self-esteem, emotional issues and disabilities, as well as peer-based support and teamwork skills for working with other educators.
By the end of the program, all teachers will have acquired a classroom “tool bag” packed with games, icebreakers, reflective activities and creative warm-ups. “I am way more organized in my teaching now,” says TTP graduate Becky Hurt, a current Eveoke company dancer and teaching artist. “It is easier for me to shift my teaching when something isn’t working because of all the tools I can instantly pick from.”
But it’s during the program’s culminating final project where educators will first be able to test out their newly learned skills. “Each teacher is asked to create a final class that the whole Eveoke community is invited to take, and they may design it as they choose as long as it reflects who they are and is connected with the Eveoke mission,” says Malone. “These classes are always deep, layered and very individual.”
Prospective participants: Established dance teachers and educators-in-training looking to work in studios and schools. “Dance teachers looking for inspiration and connection are welcome to apply, and those who feel solid in their technique but want to bring more purpose, meaning and/or social activism to their lessons are a great match for the program,” says Erika Malone.
Date/time: Fall 2009; program runs from fall to spring, with summers as an integration period for supervised assisting and/or teaching. Some students are accepted later in the semester, but a new class matriculates each year. Those waiting for admittance may take classes or audition for the performing group or apprentice company, pending a consultation.
Location: Eveoke Dance Theatre, 2811-A University Ave., San Diego, California 92104
Registration: The Teacher-Training Program is a full-scholarship program that includes all classes and training for students in good standing. “Housing is not provided, but we may be able to connect participants with housing resources,” says Malone.
Accreditation received/requirements: A certificate of completion, pending all requirements are met: 80 weeks of TTP classes, 480 technique classes, 240 elective classes, 90 percent of homework assignments turned in and evaluation of annual final projects. (Students must assist two classes per week each year and/or teach one class per week, depending on experience. They must also take two technique classes and one elective per week.)
Director/founder: Malone received her BA in dance and theater from Sarah Lawrence College in 1998, and has performed in more than 60 local, college and professional theater productions. She began studying modern dance with Eveoke’s founding artistic director Gina Angelique in 2002. Before then, Malone taught theater and dance through the Pennsylvania-based Ensemble Theatre Community School’s outreach programs. She has also choreographed and directed works for several local companies.
Fun fact: Eveoke partners with a local organization, Kids Included Together, to offer specialized training in working with special-needs youth and adults.
Contact: Erika Malone, program director, Eveoke Dance Theatre; 619-238-1153; email@example.com; www.eveoke.org
Photo by Anthony Rodriguez, courstesy Eveoke Dance Theatre
“As Martha Graham said, ‘Technique has a three-fold purpose: strength of body, freedom of body and spirit and spontaneity of action,’” says Virginie Mécène, director of the New York City–based Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance. “Our approach is to give participants the fundamental basis of the technique, so that wherever it is taught, its essentials remain intact.” Both teachers-in-training and seasoned educators will benefit from the MGSCD yearlong Teacher-Training Program, which started in the ’90s, and its new Teacher-Training Summer Intensive.
For one year, teacher-training students carefully analyze and break down every aspect of Graham technique, taking five to eight technique classes per week, plus dance history and elective courses. Participants teach each other, observe classes, notate assessments and, eventually, write a lesson plan and teach the class. Those who excel in the course may have the opportunity to teach as apprentices for MGSCD beginner and teen classes, and all who pass the course will receive a Certificate of Completion.
Mécène is confident that students acquire invaluable teaching skills. “The course explores demonstration skills, the ability to recognize weaknesses and apply appropriate verbal and/or physical corrections, classroom management, use of the voice and imagery, construction and development of a lesson and musicality,” she says. Students also work with rotating pairs of veteran Graham dancers and instructors throughout the year. “You’re directed by some of the most important and successful people in the contemporary dance world,” says Einat Iosefzon, who completed the program last June.
The training program is in such high demand that a full-time course of study for working teachers has now been established. The new Teacher-Training Intensive is set to run in NYC, June 22–July 17, 2009. It will include technique classes in conjunction with a repertory workshop, and a focus on individual needs, such as differences in teaching in public versus professional schools. Mécène hopes the intensive will facilitate relationships between teachers and the MGSCD—collaborations and student exchange programs are just a few of the possibilities.
Perhaps Iosefzon put it best when describing what makes the Graham programs so unique: “With Graham, the magic onstage comes from the class and the studio, and that is one of the most difficult things to learn as a teacher—how to create the magic.” DT
Advanced level Graham Technique, completion of Composition 1 and completion of two Advanced Repertory courses. Applicants not currently attending the Martha Graham School, but who have previously attended, must participate in at least two weeks of technique class through the Summer Intensive Course prior to the start of the program. Applicants who have never studied at the MGSCD must participate in the full six-week Summer Intensive Course the summer prior to the start of the program. All applicants must submit a personal statement of intent. More information about the Teacher-Training Summer Intensive is available online.
Interested applicants should contact: Virginia Mécène, Director, Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance; 316 E 63rd St, New York, NY 10065; 212-838-5886 x203; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.marthagraham.org