Associate editor Rachel Rizzuto is originally from Chalmette, Louisiana. She dances for MMDC and heads her own project-based company, touche pas. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi with degrees in dance and English, she edits the Face to Face, Higher Ed, Technique, Theory & Practice and Business columns. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Each year, the Dance Teacher Awards honor four outstanding educators for their contributions to the field. Recipients have included studio owners, professors, program directors and more whose specialties run the gamut of dance genres. We need your help to find this year's best in the profession. Do you know a teacher who deserves to be recognized as a leader and role model? Nominate him or her for a 2018 Dance Teacher Award!
Send nominations by March 1, 2018. You can fill out the form below, send us an e-mail (email@example.com) or mail nominations to:
2018 Dance Teacher Awards
attn: Rachel Rizzuto
Dance Teacher magazine
333 Seventh Ave., 11th Floor
New York, NY 10001
Your nomination should include the following:
1. Award category: Studios and Conservatories; Colleges and Universities; K–12.
2. School or studio name and location, nominee's position at the institution.
3. Nominee's contact info.
4. Your relationship to the nominee.
5. In 200 words or less, tell us why this teacher deserves an award. What are his/her leadership qualities, for instance, and list some notable accomplishments. Feel free to include any helpful photos or videos, as well!
DT Awards will be presented at the Dance Teacher Summit. Nominees must be available to attend.
Reid and Harriet, Harriet and Reid. Even the pairing of their names sounds destined to be a fabulous clothing line. Since founding their eponymous costume design company in 2011, Reid Bartelme and Harriet Jung have snipped, sewed, hemmed and—when necessary—out-and-out hacked their way to the crest of dance costume design. They've designed for everyone from Justin Peck, New York City Ballet's choreographer in residence, to Jack Ferver, an experimental-performance artist, managing to do with their designs what few others have achieved—bridge the diametrically opposed dance worlds of classical ballet and downtown dance.
At first glance, their story appears to be a tale of opposites who attract. He's a former dancer who performed in the companies of Lar Lubovitch and Shen Wei; she briefly studied Korean folk dance as a child but went on to earn a degree in molecular and cell biology. Within their design company, she calls him the Master Pattern Maker; he calls her the CFO. But ever since they gravitated toward each other as students at the Fashion Institute of Technology, both eager to throw themselves into their second careers, they've operated on the same wavelength. Even as classmates, Bartelme says, "there was synergy in terms of our pace and aesthetic." As costume designers, their approach is strikingly similar to the choreographers who hire them: They know how to make the dancers look good, keep the integrity of a piece at the forefront of their creations and—maybe most importantly—not be afraid to cut really good material.
If you haven't seen this yet, please enjoy this clip of Martha Graham Dance Company artistic director Janet Eilber (she's a former Graham principal) teaching the students of Harvard Law School an excerpt of Lamentation. (You'd recognize the piece—it's perhaps Graham's most famous, in which she's constrained by a stretchy piece of fabric.) The video was taken by Damian Woetzel, who co-teaches The Law and the Performing Arts with Jeannie Suk Gersen.
Following the introduction to Martha Graham through movement, Janet and Graham executive director LaRue Allen spoke to the class about dance and copyright and other legal issues.
Want to see the OG version? Here's Graham doing excerpts from the piece in 1934, at Bennington College:
Ellen Robbins' modern dance classes for kids and teens are legendary in New York City. Robbins, who has been teaching kids how to dance since the 1970s (and whose pupils included the actresses Claire Danes and Julia Stiles), takes the standard recital model and turns it on its head. Her students—ranging in age from 8 to 18—are the choreographers for the annual concert she produces at esteemed NYC venue New York Live Arts.
If that approach sounds borderline insane to you (we know you're all deep in the throes of recital season right now), consider Robbins' unique teaching philosophy: Improvisation is present in every aspect of class, for every age group. Here are four ways she shapes her youngest dancers into choreographers—almost without their realizing it!
Midway through every semester at Indiana University Bloomington, contemporary professor Stephanie Nugent notices that her students aren't quite as awake as they were the first week of classes. They're tired from midterm exams and bring less energy to the studio. Nugent, too, feels the lull. "Teaching in academia is an arc with many peaks and valleys," she says, noting that the repetition of exercises can get monotonous. "On days when it feels like we've been doing the same thing over and over, I give students an improvisational prompt, and it reignites all of our interests. It's something to investigate, rather than something to repeat."
Most teachers experience a moment of stagnation at some point. Maybe students aren't progressing as fast as you feel they should, or you feel uninspired by the daily routine. Factors outside the studio, like administrative work, can also deplete your energy reserves. During these low and slow times, consider the following ideas to find inspiration and give yourself—and your students—a boost.
Long before switching from ballet to Broadway became de rigueur, Edwaard Liang shocked everyone by leaving New York City Ballet to join the Broadway cast of the musical Fosse. Eleven years later, he defied expectations again by taking over as BalletMet's artistic director—without putting his robust freelance choreography career on hold. Liang, it seems, doesn't pay much heed to the conventional approach to a dance career.
In his four years with BalletMet, Liang has sought to challenge his dancers with diverse repertory that goes far beyond the typical confines of classical and contemporary ballet. This month, to celebrate BalletMet's 40th anniversary, the company teamed up with Ohio State University's dance department and the Wexner Center for the Arts to offer a smorgasbord of dance styles: from William Forsythe's singular brand of leggy-brainy dance to Ohad Naharin's exuberant Minus 16, performed alongside OSU dance students. Here, he talks to DT about the effect his choices have had on his career.
Because of his own hyperextended knees, Mark Morris Dance Group member Billy Smith pays particular attention to the condition in his students. Locked knees, he says, lead to locked hips, denying your full mobility. This combination requires a straight and stable supporting leg through both a rond de jambe en l'air and a promenade. Softening behind the knees to counteract hyperextension allows you to fully access your turnout and stand easier.
When Hurricane Harvey devastated swaths of southeast Texas, the dance community stepped up, channeling characteristic discipline and drive raise relief funds for studios and dancers affected by the storm. Now it's time to come to the aid of those in Puerto Rico affected by Hurricane Maria's wrath.