Dance Buzz

When Sierra McCauley was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma cancer five years ago at age 6, that didn't stop her from continuing to compete with her studio, Sonya's Dance Zone, in Columbus, Indiana. Despite six months of chemotherapy, McCauley even competed in a Nationals. "I remember going onstage without any hair and a bow taped to my head," she says.

During her stay at Riley Hospital for Children, McCauley made several friends, a few of whom sadly passed away during their struggles with cancer. Last year, she performed a special tribute dance to honor those friends. Now, she's created a social media challenge to help raise funds for the Riley Children's Foundation: #dancerbeatingcancer. The challenge's premise is simple, just like the #IceBucketChallenge from 2014—you post a short video of yourself dancing to Meghan Trainor's "Better When I'm Dancin'" and challenge others to do the same, tagging your post with #dancerbeatingcancer. Then, you head to the Riley Children's Foundation donation page to donate funding for pediatric research.

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Photo via unsplash.com

Last Saturday night, Dance/NYC, Gibney Dance and the Actors Fund hosted a conversation on sexual harassment in the dance world. The floor was open for anyone in attendance to share whatever they wanted: personal stories, resources, suggestions.

The event brought to light some of the questions the dance world is facing, and though we don't yet have all the answers, it helped lay out the areas we need to address:

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Dance Buzz
Arthur Mitchell in class in the 1960s. Photo by Milton Oleaga, courtesy of Columbia University

With scores of rare photographs, more than an hour of footage, programs, posters, music and art works, Columbia University's latest exhibition, Arthur Mitchell: Harlem's Ballet Trailblazer, curated by dance historian Lynn Garafola, celebrates Mitchell's career and his impact on the dance community.

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Dance Buzz
Photo courtesy of The Chicago Academy for the Arts

Although at first glance Zachary Jeppsen looks like your typical teenager, he's quite extraordinary. A junior at The Chicago Academy for the Arts, he travels from his farm near Whitewater, Wisconsin, to Chicago six hours a day, six days week. Yes, you read that correctly: six hours a day, six days a week!

Defying most of the usual suspect stereotypes associated with your average teenager, he seems to be ingrained with the dream trifecta—an abundance of discipline, passion and talent. He's the kind of student any dance teacher craves to have in their classes. But where does all that motivation come from?

DT talked with Jeppsen about his love for dance, his supportive parents and why that grueling commute has been worth it.

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Dance Buzz
Shelby Williams (via @biscuitballerina Instagram)

As a dance teacher, on any given day of the week you've probably taught about a million ballet classes, your feet hurt and you need a little laughter to get you through the rest of your week. We've got just the thing!

Every Friday, one of our favorite Instagram accounts, @biscuitballerina, shares some of the best stage falls of all time from dancers around the world—it's amazing! To keep you on your toes, we've curated all of Biscuit Ballerina's best #FallingFriday posts because, let's be honest: You need it, and you need it right now.

Give them a watch and prepare to laugh 'til you cry!

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Dance Buzz
Chamblas and students staged a flash mob at the university president's inauguration. Photo courtesy of CalArts

He might have just had a long day of rehearsals prepping for a performance at the Paris Internationale art fair, yet Dimitri Chamblas is energized as he talks about his new role. The 42-year-old took over this year as dean of The Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), and his enthusiasm for the future of dance and dance education is contagious.

"We want to keep recruiting diversity of techniques and bodies, because the future of dance is that," says the former artistic director of Paris Opéra's creative digital platform 3e Scène. "We want students who have temporality, space, precision—where you can consider your body as a space for exploration—and we want to help them develop their singularity and creativity."

As an artist, Chamblas connects dance to the visual arts, filmmaking, new media, digital production and architecture. His past collaborative partners have included Benjamin Millepied, RubberLegz, William Forsythe and Lil Buck.

Photo courtesy of CalArts

"We have to concentrate on how to prepare students for the actuality of a dance career," Chamblas says. A dance career no longer means joining a company until retirement, so he wants his students to learn how to perform or choreograph for nontraditional spaces, social media, films, photography and commercials. Classwork will include guidance on writing business plans, photography/videography tips (in front of and behind the lens) and advice on creating a dance company.

Chamblas' international dance connections will help land guest artists, and he envisions the school being more integrated into the Los Angeles dance scene. He also plans on starting a CalArts dance company with its own repertoire. "Dimitri brings a fresh point of view and vision for the dance program," associate dean of dance Cynthia Young says. "His energy is inspiring and unrelenting."

CalArts president Ravi S. Rajan says that in Chamblas' short tenure, he has already motivated students with such projects as a flash mob during the school president's inauguration ceremony. "This work directly demonstrated the relevance of dance to our lives," Rajan says.

For more: calarts.edu

Dance Buzz
Photo via @jordanmatter's Instagram

There's no such thing as too much inspiration, right? Right! Here are some inspiring posts to keep your motivation for the year ahead high, flexible and balanced, or whatever your New Year's goals may be.

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Yesterday evening, Peter Martins announced his immediate retirement as New York City Ballet's ballet master in chief through a letter to the company's board. He had been solely in charge of the company's artistic direction since 1989 and the School of American Ballet's chairman of faculty since 1983. Since December 7, Martins had been on a self-requested leave, amidst an investigation of claims of sexual harassment as well as physical and verbal abuse. In the letter, he stated, "I have denied, and continue to deny, that I have engaged in any such misconduct." However, earlier articles from The New York Timesand The Washington Post conveyed accounts of verbal and physical abuse by NYCB dancers, both past and present. In 1992, Martins was charged with third-degree assault of his wife Darci Kistler, though the charges were later dropped.

Despite Martins' resignation, the board emphasized in a statement, also released on Monday, that the investigation will continue until it is completed and that "the board takes seriously the allegations that have been made against him."

To keep reading, go to dancemagazine.com.

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