Orlando Ballet School Students Make Waves

Students of Florida’s Orlando Ballet School have been showing off all over the world lately. Jeffrey Cirio, 18, who left a pre-professional position in Boston to study with OBS’ director Peter Stark, won the gold medal in the sixth annual Helsinki International Ballet Competition.
Cirio went on to place first in the pre-professional male category at the annual World Ballet Competition, held in Orlando. “What’s interesting about Jeff is that he’s done all these competitions but the goal has always been to be a classical ballet dancer. For him, this was always a means to an end. It’s really great that he’s kept that perspective,” says Stark, Cirio’s teacher and coach.
What’s more, Cirio was recently selected to receive this year’s Princess Grace Dance Fellowship, and the money awarded will go toward his salary as he returns to Boston to join Boston Ballet as a corps member.
Another OBS student, Arcadian Broad, was selected to compete in Las Vegas for NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.” Broad performed a contemporary dance routine to Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing” (which he trained for with an outside teacher, Dawhone Perry), that earned him a unanimous vote from all three judges to continue in the competition. “Arcadian is an incredibly accomplished ballet dancer and pianist,” says Stark, who adds that Broad was closely considered for the role of Billy Elliot on Broadway. “He just enjoys the work and goes from one challenge to the next.”

Info: www.orlandoballet.org —Tracy Krisanits

Cunningham's Legacy

The dance community mourns the loss of Merce Cunningham, who passed away peacefully in his sleep July 26, 2009. Born April 16, 1919, in Centralia, Washington, Cunningham became one of the most salient figures in dance history. His groundbreaking work as a dancer, teacher, choreographer and innovator redefined modern dance and initiated the postmodern dance movement.
In the wake of his death, the Cunningham Dance Foundation has launched its Legacy Plan, to dissolve the company over three years, yet maintain the integrity of Cunningham’s work through the Cunningham Trust. Selected by Cunningham prior to his death, trustees Laura Kuhn (executive director of the John Cage Trust), Patricia Lent, Allan G. Sperling and Robert Swinston are currently arranging MCDC’s two-year world tour. The Cunningham Studio will relocate. However, open classes and educational and outreach programs held at the current Westbeth location will continue during this transitional period. The Foundation must raise $8 million to fund Dance Capsules to conserve Cunningham’s work and to provide career transitions for dancers and staff. So far, $3.5 million has been committed. For more information or to make a contribution, visit www.merce.org.
—Jenny Dalzell

Margaret Jenkins’ CHIME Crosses State Lines

The Margaret Jenkins Dance Company’s Choreographers in Mentorship Exchange program, CHIME, received a $400,000 grant from The James Irvine Foundation, plus an additional $155,000 from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, to help fund CHIME Across Borders, an exchange among U.S. choreographers.
Conceived by artistic director Margaret Jenkins, CHIME funds self-selected pairs of professional and emerging choreographers in the San Francisco Bay Area to work together for a year with the simple goal of enriching each other’s work. Past pairings have included prominent Bay Area–based artists: Brenda Way, Molissa Fenley, Charles Moulton, Joe Goode and Julia Adam.
Beginning in January, the new CHIME Across Borders will bring well-known choreographers from outside California to mentor local choreographers in San Francisco. The first artist selected to work with CHIME Across Borders is New York–based David Gordon, who will travel to the Bay Area several times during 2010.
“I really thought it was important to expand the dialogue to people who have been working over decades,” says Jenkins. “One of the things I like about CHIME is that because it is process-oriented and not product-oriented—meaning no one has to finish a dance by the end of the year—you could decide to throw everything out and that would be as successful a year as making a work.” Jenkins says she also has international aspirations for the program: “My hope is that it will reach international exchange.”
Info: www.mjdc.org —TK

Giordano's Legacy

Gus Giordano may not have been present at the 16th Jazz Dance World Congress in Chicago this July, but his spirit was everywhere—from the “Gus’s JDWC” that was stamped on every student’s bracelet and black T-shirts imprinted with his smoky image, to an inspiring essence in every class.
The first Congress to take place since the death of its charismatic founder was dedicated to the man who changed the face of jazz dance. The film Gus: An American Icon, written and produced by Pedro Brenner, debuted on the first night. Told through acclaimed jazz dancers and educators, the narrative follows Giordano’s first steps in opening a dance studio to becoming a renowned jazz legend credited with bringing the jazz community together. He started the first JDWC in 1990, and he codified jazz dance for teachers in the Anthology of American Jazz Dance (unfortunately now out of print).
An acclaimed choreographer and director, Giordano is remembered best as an educator, and his students recall his classes fondly. “They don’t walk up the stairs and say, ‘I saw the best performance ever.’ They walk up the stairs and say, ‘I took a class with your father,’” said Amy Giordano, one of the Giordano daughters. “It’s not about the trophies; it’s about the teaching.”
A lunchtime “Ask the Experts” panel discussion brought together master teachers Ray Leeper, Liz Imperio, Jimmy Locust and Pattie Obey. Leeper encouraged teachers to find new ways to approach their corrections and to always identify the purpose of each exercise, while Imperio favored a more time-honored approach: “Make them repeat it until they get it,” she said.
Other master instructors on faculty for the five-day event included Joe Tremaine, Jon Lehrer, Homer Bryant, Randy Duncan, Masashi Mishiro, Susan Quinn, Kirby Reed, Sherry Zunker, Giordano company member Cesar Salinas and of course, Nan Giordano herself, who continues to lead the organization in her late father’s footsteps.
“This is who I am. Not just what I do,” Gus Giordano once said. “And I say, long live jazz dance.”
—Lauren Green

"So You Think You Can Dance" Launches Dizzy Feet Foundation

Nigel Lythgoe, the co-creator of “So You Think You Can Dance,” has teamed up with “Dancing With The Stars” judge Carrie Ann Inaba, director Adam Shankman and actress Katie Holmes to launch Dizzy Feet Foundation, a nonprofit charity that will provide scholarships and assistance to underprivileged but talented young dancers.
Paula Abdul, Jennifer Lopez, Miley Cyrus, Mia Michaels, Mary Murphy, Debbie Allen, Shane Sparks and others have been tapped to serve on a steering committee—the group responsible for selecting scholarship recipients and following their journeys.
“The financial crisis that the whole world is compromised by is affecting the arts big time,” says steering committee member Allen. “We’re on life support right now because arts funding is the first thing that gets slashed.”
Info: www.dizzyfeetfoundation.org —TK

Honors List

  • Austin Hartel, associate professor of dance at The University of Oklahoma and artistic director of The Hartel Dance Group, was awarded a Fulbright Scholar Grant to choreograph and teach for the National Ballet of Paraguay and the National Institute of Fine Arts in Asuncion, Paraguay, for the 2009–2010 academic year.
  • Greer Reed-Jones was named artistic director of Dance Alloy Theater in Pittsburgh. She was the education director at the company and formerly taught at the Pittsburgh High School for the Creative and Performing Arts.
  • North Carolina Dance Theatre named Wilson Middle School dance teacher Cherise Hill as Educator of the Year. The Dance Champion of the Year was posthumously awarded to Villa Heights Elementary School principal and Dance Theatre’s Education Committee member James Aiken, who passed away in March. Carol Owen, executive director of East Learning Community, also received a Dance Champion Award.


In Memoriam: John Goding 1958-2009

John Goding, The Washington Ballet’s ballet master, died of a pulmonary embolism while vacationing in Florida this past July. Goding served the company for more than 30 years.
As a featured dancer with TWB from the 1970s through 1998, Goding performed leading roles created for him by Choo-San Goh, TWB’s first artist-in-residence. He choreographed numerous works for the company including Danzon, Mysteries and Rhapsody in Swing. In 1998, he was named ballet master.
The company has set up an e-mail account, rememberingjgoding@washingtonballet.org, for anyone who wishes to share memories of Goding. They will be passed on to his family.

—TK

Dance Teachers Trending
Photo by Kyle Froman

Darla Hoover was at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet's studios running a rehearsal in 2014 with director Marcia Dale Weary. Hoover had just returned the day before from staging a ballet in St. Petersburg, Russia. Jet-lagged, she mixed up her words when giving a correction.

Weary took Hoover's hand and gently said, "Honey, you work too hard."

Hoover, and the students, had a good laugh.

"Are you kidding me?" Hoover replied. "You're the one who made this monster. There is no off switch!"

Weary founded CPYB in 1955, and it quickly became an internationally known school that has produced countless principal dancers. Famous for her high standards and tough work ethic, Weary instilled those qualities in Hoover, who served as associate artistic director at CPYB under Weary, as artistic director at Ballet Academy East's pre-professional division in New York City and as a répétiteur for the Balanchine Trust.

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Bill Johnson, Courtesy Just for Kix

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Now, Just For Kix has created a new online tool to help everyone tackle their fundraising goals, whether you're raising money for uniforms, extra classes, or to cover the cost of travel for your dance team's next convention.

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Father-daughter dance. Photo by Lisa Lee, courtesy of Dance Academy USA

Your year-end recital is your studio's pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Not only is it the time for your dancers to celebrate what they've accomplished during the year, it's your opportunity to demonstrate to parents firsthand the value of a dance education. A successful recital can also grant your school an influential role in the local community. Whether a prominent conservatory or a small-town studio, and whether your dancers win competitions or take classes once a week, your year-end recital is the chance for your dancers—and your program—to shine.

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Ailey II artistic director Troy Powell teaching an Ailey Workshop at NYCDA. Courtesy NYCDA

Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.

"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."

Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.

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Q: How do you approach gender when teaching in 2019? When I was training, male dancers were encouraged to make their movement masculine, while female dancers were encouraged to keep their movement feminine. Today, gender has become much more fluid, and the line between masculine and feminine performance has blurred. How does that impact the way we should be teaching?

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Photo courtesy of Z Artists Group

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.

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Last week, 2019 DT Awardee Marisa Hamamoto and her partner Piotr Iwanicki brought their boundary-breaking work to the "Good Morning America" stage in a segment highlighting her inclusive dance company Infinite Flow.

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Since she was hired in 2006 to create a dance program at Washington & Lee University in Virginia, Jenefer Davies has operated as, essentially, a one-woman show. She's the only full-time faculty member (with regular adjunct support). Over the last 13 years, she has created a thriving program along with a performance company—at a school with fewer than 2,500 students—by drawing on her admittedly rare strength: aerial dance.

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Savion Glover is one of the biggest names in the dance world, and perhaps the biggest in the tap world. The trailblazing hoofer's hard-hitting, rhythmically intricate style has fundamentally altered the tap landscape.

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Though she loved choreographing, the high school student showcase wasn't quite enough for Julie Deleger, a recent graduate of The College Preparatory School in Oakland, California. The answer for her was an independent-study project during her last semester there. "Choreography is so personal that sometimes you need to take more or less time with it," she says. "Doing it on my own was really helpful. I let the project guide me rather than having to adhere to a specific set of rules."

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Q: My 5-year-old daughter is pigeon-toed. Do you have any suggestions to help her correct this?

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While training with Abby Lee Miller in Pittsburgh, Rachel Kreiling underestimated the studio's requirement of enrolling in every class. The versatile curriculum (tap, ballet, hip hop, modern, acro, lyrical and jazz) paired with Miller's unconventional teaching style, since showcased on "Dance Moms," greatly impacted Kreiling's own style and relationship to music. "Abby would play the music and choreograph within the phrasing, but rarely to actual counts," she says. This resulted in a huge positive learning component. "I had to learn musicality myself," says Kreiling, who left the studio at age 18 after graduating, more than a decade before the Lifetime network show aired. "And studying every style became instrumental in my attachment to music," she adds. "I'm always seeking out new genres and diverse songs." After a performing career that included a Broadway-style revue at Tokyo Disney, Revolution (a tap tour with Mike Schulster), and dancing with Alison Chase/Performance and in a Rasta Thomas contemporary ballet, Kreiling began assisting Suzi Taylor at Steps on Broadway in New York City. In 2007, Kreiling, who describes her class as extremely athletic and technical, became full-time NYCDA faculty.

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