In February, San Francisco Ballet principal Dores André will originate the 11th role of her 15-year professional career with Trey McIntyre's highly anticipated new work, The Big Hunger. The work is inspired by the big hunger/little hunger philosophies of the bushmen in the Kalahari desert. "Little hunger" represents the superficial desires we focus on during day-to-day life, while "big hunger" represents what remains beyond the little hunger. "It's about the deeper meaning we are all looking for in life," André says. "It's not about our careers or a new pair of shoes or any other robotic human want, it's about the search for something bigger than all of us."
Each anniversary celebration of a dance company might also be considered a lesson in dance history and a study of endurance and perseverance. Thus the 50th anniversary of PHILADANCO is an opportunity to celebrate the remarkable legacy of founder and artistic director Joan Myers Brown as a source of inspiration for students, dancers and colleagues nationwide.
PHILADANCO is a resident company at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia and kicked off its 50th season on October 5. Brown and the company will participate in the International Association of Blacks in Dance's 32nd annual conference, January 14–19, in Philadelphia. And you can catch the company throughout the U.S. in 2020, including February performances in Massachusetts and New Jersey.
New York City–based pre-professional training troupe Z Artists Group, along with dancers from eight professional companies in the city, are joining together to combat gun violence with, "DANCERS DEMAND ACTION," a performance aligning art with activism at The Joyce Theater, this Monday, November 11, at 7:30 pm.
For seven decades, Frank Shawl's bright and kind spirit touched thousands of dancers in the studio and in the audience.
After dancing professionally in New York City and with the May O'Donnell Dance Company, Shawl moved with Victor Anderson to the San Francisco Bay Area and founded Shawl-Anderson Dance Center in 1958. It is the longest running arts organization in Berkeley.
The two ran their own company for 15 years and Shawl-Anderson Dance Center became a home for dance for students and artists alike. It currently runs 120 classes and workshops every week for children and adults, plus artist residencies, rehearsal space and intimate performances. (If you have never visited, the Center is actually a large house converted into four studio spaces.)
Shawl taught modern classes at the studio until 1990, performed into his late 70s and took classes at the Center into his mid 80s.
As I simultaneously mourn and honor Frank—my dear friend, fellow dancer, mentor and boss—I reflect on a few lessons that I learned from him. These five ideas relate to our various roles in dance as students, performers, teachers and administrators.
This fall Hubbard Street Dance Chicago initiates an innovative choreographic-study project to pair local Chicago teens with company member Rena Butler, who in 2018 was named the Hubbard Street Choreographic Fellow. The Dance Lab Choreographic Fellowship is the vision of Kathryn Humphreys, director of HSDC's education, youth and community programs. "I am really excited to see young people realize possibilities, and realize what they are capable of," she says. "I think that high school is such an interesting, transformative time. They are right on the edge of figuring themselves out."
We're counting down to January 1st with great ideas for your studio and teaching practice in the new year.
The side hip suspension is a basic lift, common in contemporary dance, that requires both partners to use their weight efficiently—the key to effortless and dynamic partnering. Let Talli Jackson, a member of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and the recipient of a Princess Grace Award, show you how it's done.
Photo by Kyle Froman
Gibney Dance Center, one of New York City's thriving dance hubs, has announced plans to expand its home at 280 Broadway. With eight studios already, the $2.5 million capital campaign running through 2016 will fund the building of seven new studios.
Gibney Dance Company was founded by choreographer and dance activist Gina Gibney in 1991. In 2014, she acquired the studio and performance space at 280 Broadway, formerly the home of Dance New Amsterdam. At both 280 Broadway and Gibney's other location at 890 Broadway, students can take classes, rent studio space and participate in Gibney Dance's frequent workshop offerings.
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Dance Teacher editors stand with the 2016 Dance Teacher Award winners at the Capezio A.C.E. Awards. From left to right: Rachel Caldwell, Rachel Rizzuto, Helen Rolfe, Joanne Chapman, Claudio Muñoz, Robert Battle, Karen Hildebrand, Kathleen Isaac and Pamela VanGilder
What a whirlwind weekend! It was my first-ever Dance Teacher Summit, and it was awesome! Throughout the weekend's classes, seminars, workshops, Capezio A.C.E. Awards and the Closing Summit panel discussion, teachers from far and wide shared their wisdom and passion for teaching dance. Here are five things I learned at the Summit:
1. Studio owners are superheroes. At the studio owners' session on Thursday, studio owners from across the country discussed the challenges they face. My takeaway? These women and men are amazing. Not only do they run a business, teach class, choreograph and manage staff, they deal with problematic parents, fundraising, the repercussions of a constantly changing economy, being a mentor to students and adapting their businesses to the digital age. And that's not even half of it! I tip my hat to you, studio owners. You are superheroes.
2. Dance really is for every child. Since seeing the documentary P.S. Dance! last year, I have thought a lot about its prevailing message, “Dance for every child." I felt that concept very deeply when I attended a workshop titled “Special Needs Students," led by Rhythm Works Integrative Dance teacher Tricia Gomez. She gave a rundown of sensory issues experienced by students with special needs and showed how different types of cuing (visual, auditory and tactile) can help those students dance. It was fascinating and inspiring!
Talent and innovation were abundant at the Capezio A.C.E. Awards! Among the winners were 2nd runner ups Mark Osborn and Justin Myles for their tap number, Long Train Running.
3. The competition scene is immense (and intense!). At both the competition/convention panel discussion and Joanne Chapman and Nancy Giles' seminar, “Competition Teams: Keeping it Smooth," I was blown away by just how much the comp scene has expanded since I was a studio dancer. Representatives from 15 dance competitions were present at the Summit to field questions. Meanwhile Chapman and Giles shared how they run their award-winning comp teams. One key to their success? Hold every dancer on the team to the same high standards.
4. Stay positive and good things will come your way. At Kim Delgrosso's seminar, “Fill Your Cup," she shared how maintaining a positive attitude and being grateful can impact your life. It's worked well for her—the mother of 8 and grandmother of 22 has run a successful studio in Orem, Utah, for more than 30 years. From taking the time to connect with the people around you to participating in nondance activities, she had great suggestions for staying grounded and humble in this often chaotic industry.
5. The future of dance education looks bright. The Closing Summit panel discussion last night was truly uplifting. Summit ambassadors Denise Wall, Joanne Chapman, Kim Delgrosso, Sue Sampson-Dalena, Dance Teacher editor-in-chief Karen Hildebrand and faculty member Deborah Wingert talked with teachers about the future of dance education. More job opportunities for dancers, an increased emphasis on health and self-care and more innovation in the choreographic realm than we know what to do with are all indicators of a bright future for today's young dancers.
From left to right: Denise Wall, Kim Delgrosso, Sue Sampson-Dalena, Joanne Chapman, Karen Hildebrand and Deborah Wingert
Photos (from top): by Rachel Papo (2); by Helen Rolfe
After days spent rallying against "Good Morning America" host Lara Spencer's flippant comments about boys doing ballet, the dance world triumphed on Monday. Not only did Spencer issue a lengthy on-air apology, complete with an interview with Robbie Fairchild, Travis Wall and Fabrice Calmels, but over 300 dancers gathered outside of the "GMA" studios for an impromptu ballet class.
The dance field seemed geared to press forward with positivity; a change.org petition urging "GMA" to cover the benefits of ballet for young men has gathered over 40,000 signatures, and many are examining the ways in which the #boysdancetoo movement can be made more inclusive. This made it all the more disheartening to open Instagram this morning and see that Fox News commentators Raymond Arroyo and Laura Ingraham took the bullying a step further last night, mocking Spencer's apology on a program called "The Ingraham Angle."
I didn't realize how much the whole movement meant to me until I saw the mass of male dancers congregated in front of "Good Morning America" led by the likes of Travis Wall, Alex Wong and Robbie Fairchild. It was pre-7 am—I was all packed up and ready to begin my trek to work when I stumbled upon a livestream of the event. I had read an article the day prior, and heard some whispering about a meet-up outside "GMA." But I wasn't quite sure what type of turnout I could expect. And I certainly could not anticipate how it would make me feel.
A fierce concentration fills the studio as a group of flamenco students—male and female, undergraduate and graduate—rehearse under the watchful gaze of Daniel Doña and Cristian Martín. The young men stretch their bodies in taut, elegant lines. The young women move their arms in fluid contrast to the brisk, rhythmic staccato of their feet. Long, ruffled skirts, called batas de cola, are draped carefully over the audience seats for the women to wear during sections that involve manipulating them like dramatic mermaid tails. When the passage is finished, Doña gives corrections about spacing, while Martín quietly takes one of the men aside to demonstrate how to perform an airborne renversé-esque move with more attack. Martín's legs slice swiftly like a blade, yet it takes a magically long time for him to land from the jump.