For college dance students, one of the biggest events of the year is the American College Dance Festival. In 12 regional conferences, students and teachers take part in master classes, workshops, panels and performances over the course of four days. The top performances of the conference are selected for a gala concert. And every two years, the stakes get a little higher: Each conference sends two or three works to be performed in a national festival, held at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. These works can be choreographed by students or faculty, but only students are eligible for the Dance Magazine/ACDFA awards for outstanding choreography and performance.
This June, three panelists—choreographer Daniel Singh, arts consultant Suzanne Callahan and Dance Magazine editor in chief Jennifer Stahl—selected Alexis Renee DeVance, of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, for outstanding student choreography, and the entire cast of the University of Texas–Pan American's Nuevo León for outstanding student performance. DeVance's piece, Salt.Rose.Witness., was cited for its "bravery and commitment"; the panelists loved the way Nuevo León's cast "brought humor and high energy" and "felt real and authentic."
Panelists were informed ahead of time whether a piece was created by a student or faculty member, but Stahl says there was rarely a question. "Students can take a risk in a way that a guest artist or faculty member can't," she says, and cites this year's program as an example. "One piece started in silence, with a dancer screaming and crying--I think it was inspired by the story of Trayvon Martin. It's hard to take that kind of risk if you're a guest artists brought in by the college and worried about getting asked back. If you're a student, though, this is your time to experiment."
Check out the list of honorable mentions here.
Photos from top: by Lindsey Vait; by Jeff Swenson, both courtesy of ACDFA
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.