In the Magazine

Leah Cox: From Performer to Educator

Photo by Paul B. Goode (courtesy of Leah Cox)

Former Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company member Leah Cox knew it was time to make the transition from performer to educator when she started feeling selfish. “I felt I'd spent enough time in the company," Cox says. “I was beginning to discover that entirely different world that becomes available when you approach dance as an educator, versus as a performer." When Bard College approached Bill T. Jones in 2009 about forming an education partnership, Cox jumped at the chance to head it up. She's now education director of New York Live Arts—downtown dance venue and home base for Bill T. Jones—as well as a master teaching artist during the National YoungArts Foundation's YoungArts Week. Over the course of one week in January, Cox and Jones will work with YoungArts alumni in Miami to create an interdisciplinary work.


Structuring her YoungArts master class: “I teach an interdisciplinary class to get the students to acknowledge the current state of art-making and performance, so that they start imagining how to work with people in other disciplines. It's not just that they're going to get on the stage together and each sing or dance or act or play music or write, but that they're going to make something that's integrated."

Working with high school students: “In terms of their development, collaboration is where they're at: They're really curious to work with one another, moving beyond their own sphere. It's natural—not a push. These kids are suddenly surrounded by other people who think about and love art just like they do. It feels like a homecoming for them that they've never had before."

YoungArts Week takeaway: “I tend to get bogged down and depressed about the state of the arts—raising money, getting audiences in seats—but when I get to work with students at that level who love the arts and aren't jaded, it gives me inspiration. I love to look at this next generation coming up, telling us: 'It still matters.'" DT

Education: BA in philosophy, minor in religion and

concentration in dance from Texas Christian University

Performance Career: danced with California-based McCaleb Dance right out of college; member of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, 2001–2009

Teaching Credits: education director of New York Live Arts, where she's in charge of educational programming for Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and the artists

presented by Live Arts; YoungArts master teaching artist since 2011


Dance Buzz

Bobbi Jene is another poignant film to add to this year's must-see list of dance documentaries.

After 10 years living in Israel and dancing with Ohad Naharin's Batsheva Dance, American dancer Bobbi Jene Smith decides to leave the company –and the life she's come to know–in search of finding her own path as a dancer and choreographer.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Health
Photo by Jim Lafferty; modeled by Sydney Magruder, courtesy of Broadway Dance Center

"If you don't have strong abdominal muscles, you sag into your lower back, your pelvis usually tips and you're hanging out and slumped into your hip joints," says Deborah Vogel, movement analyst, neuromuscular expert and co-founder of the Center for Dance Medicine in New York City. "It just has this whole chain reaction."

The effects of poor core strength can be dire for dancers: from weak and tight hip flexors, which negatively impact extensions, to lower-back discomfort and misaligned shoulders and necks. "Having well-toned abdominals for your posture is the primary reason why you should do stabilizing exercises," says Vogel. "It will allow you to bring your pelvis into correct alignment and good posture."

Keep reading... Show less
How-To
In Motion's senior company dancers and Candice after a showcase performance in Bermuda, (2016). Photo courtesy of Culmer-Smith

When I was 23, an e-mail circulated among my former college dance classmates at Towson University, regarding a teaching position as the jazz director at the In Motion School of Dance studio in Bermuda. I applied, and after a few e-mails, I got offered the job.

Four weeks later, I packed up my tiny little car in Denver, where I was a dancer for the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, and drove across the country to my hometown in Maryland, before flying out for my new life in Bermuda.

Looking back now, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I didn't have time to think through how I should prepare and what I needed to do to officially apply for a work permit. I was mostly concerned with how I was going to pack all my clothes and belongings into two suitcases. If I could go back, I wish I would've had a more specific guide to what teaching in another country entailed.

In an effort to share my experience, here's what I wish I would've known before I left and what I learned over my 10 years living and working as a dance teacher abroad.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Health
At age 12, doctors advised Paige Fraser to stop dancing and have surgery. Instead, she chose physical therapy and team of chiropractors and massage specialists to help work through her condition. She has just begun her 5th season with Visceral Dance, based in Chicago.

Scoliosis is a condition in which the spine, when viewed from the back, has one or more curves. The vertebrae are abnormally rotated, which creates twisting and more prominent visibility of the rib cage on one side, and it is most commonly seen in adolescents ages 10 and older. Most cases cannot be reversed, but they can be controlled, for example dancer Paige Fraser who despite suffering from severe scoliosis, has thrived as a dancer. Dance teachers can play an essential role in spotting the condition at an early stage.

“Teachers can help to notice that scoliosis is there in the first place," says Sophia Fatouros, a New York City–based dance teacher and and former professional ballet dancer who has struggled with scoliosis since she was 12. “Parents do not always see their children in tight clothes, like leotards."

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Health
Sebastian Grubb (right) runs Sebastian's Functional Fitness in San Francisco. Photo courtesy of Grubb

From improved aerobic capacity to better reactivity, cross-training can to do wonders for dancers' health and performance. But with the abundance of exercise programs available, how do you get your dancers on the right routine?

Sebastian Grubb, a San Francisco–based fitness trainer and professional dancer, shares three questions to ask as you consider different cross-training options.

Keep reading... Show less
Videos

When choreographer Cristian Faxola learned he had two days to create, develop and shoot a music video as an audition to choreograph for The Squared Division production house, he and his team embraced the challenge.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Health
Thinkstock

I have heard you say that tight hamstrings prevent full extension of the knees and that you prefer hamstring stretches in a standing position, rather than on the floor. Can you explain why?

Keep reading... Show less

Sponsored

Videos

Sponsored

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox

Win It!

Sponsored