Annelise Mertz, the founder of the Washington University dance program and Dance St. Louis, died in April at age 93. Mertz danced with Kurt Jooss Dance Theatre and as a soloist with the State Opera in Berlin, and she came to the U.S. from Germany in 1955. She began teaching at Washington University in 1957, at a time when most students had never heard of modern dance. She used the women’s gym as a dance studio but fought for her own studio until university officials finally agreed. The program continued to grow from there, leading to the creation of the school’s entire performing arts department.
The chair of the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee dance program, Ed Burgess, died in May at age 58. Burgess danced with several companies, including Jennifer Muller/The Works, and joined UWM in 1989. When he arrived, dance had been made a small part of the theater department with few majors, but he transformed it back into an independent department that now attracts talented dance majors from across the country.
As the director of dance at Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Belmont, Massachusetts, Istvan Cserven organizes the biannual student showcases, prepares dancers for competition and trains new instructors. On top of all that, he teaches the upper-level technique classes. A former ballroom champion in Hungary, he is well-acquainted with both rhythm and smooth ballroom-dance styles.
In an event inspired by the words of President John F. Kennedy, The Washington Ballet will perform the world premier of WHO WHEN WHY this Saturday, June 24, at the Smithsonian American Art Museum's Kogod Courtyard.
After having spent a lifetime looking at ourselves in the mirror, constantly appraising, who of us wouldn't want to take a dance class in the dark? Two Australian dance students, Alice Glenn and Heidi Barrett, had the same thought in 2009 when they founded No Lights No Lycra, a global dance community that offers dancers and nondancers alike the chance to get their groove on in a dark space, where there's no light, no Lycra, no technique, no teacher and no steps to learn. It's just a place to lose yourself in the music and find your own dance mojo. The event became so popular that it spread past its Melbourne beginnings, first throughout Australia and now, globally.
Four incredible educators: Joanne Chapman, Claudio Muñoz, Pamela VanGilder and Kathleen Isaac foster their students' love of dance, whether instilling artistry, offering rigorous training or giving special needs students an outlet through movement.
When Jennie Somogyi retired from New York City Ballet, she found herself in high demand as a teacher. Parents called, texted and persisted. "I don't even know how some of them got my contact information," she says with a laugh. But Somogyi, who departed from NYCB in 2015 after a 22-year career, hadn't made any definitive plans for the next stage of her life. "I just like to see how things move me," she says. She discovered, though, that she enjoyed the process of giving private lessons and seeing the rapid progress students could make. Over time, she realized that teaching was something she wanted rather than needed.