From Paris to SoCal: New CalArts Dance Dean Brings Multimedia Front and Center

Chamblas and students staged a flash mob at the university president's inauguration. Photo courtesy of CalArts

He might have just had a long day of rehearsals prepping for a performance at the Paris Internationale art fair, yet Dimitri Chamblas is energized as he talks about his new role. The 42-year-old took over this year as dean of The Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), and his enthusiasm for the future of dance and dance education is contagious.

"We want to keep recruiting diversity of techniques and bodies, because the future of dance is that," says the former artistic director of Paris Opéra's creative digital platform 3e Scène. "We want students who have temporality, space, precision—where you can consider your body as a space for exploration—and we want to help them develop their singularity and creativity."

As an artist, Chamblas connects dance to the visual arts, filmmaking, new media, digital production and architecture. His past collaborative partners have included Benjamin Millepied, RubberLegz, William Forsythe and Lil Buck.

Photo courtesy of CalArts

"We have to concentrate on how to prepare students for the actuality of a dance career," Chamblas says. A dance career no longer means joining a company until retirement, so he wants his students to learn how to perform or choreograph for nontraditional spaces, social media, films, photography and commercials. Classwork will include guidance on writing business plans, photography/videography tips (in front of and behind the lens) and advice on creating a dance company.

Chamblas' international dance connections will help land guest artists, and he envisions the school being more integrated into the Los Angeles dance scene. He also plans on starting a CalArts dance company with its own repertoire. "Dimitri brings a fresh point of view and vision for the dance program," associate dean of dance Cynthia Young says. "His energy is inspiring and unrelenting."

CalArts president Ravi S. Rajan says that in Chamblas' short tenure, he has already motivated students with such projects as a flash mob during the school president's inauguration ceremony. "This work directly demonstrated the relevance of dance to our lives," Rajan says.

For more:

Related Articles Around the Web
Getty Images

Securing the correct music licensing for your studio is an important step in creating a financially sound business. "Music licensing is something studio owners seem to either embrace or ignore completely," says Clint Salter, CEO and founder of the Dance Studio Owners Association. While it may seem like it's a situation in which it's easier to ask for forgiveness rather than permission—that is, to wait until you're approached by a music-rights organization before purchasing a license—Salter disagrees, citing Peloton, the exercise company that produces streaming at-home workouts. In February, Peloton settled a music-licensing suit with the National Music Publishers' Association out-of-court for an undisclosed amount. Originally, NMPA had sought $300 million in damages from Peloton. "It can get extremely expensive," says Salter. "It's not worth it for a studio to get caught up in that."

As you continue to explore a hybrid online/in-person version of your class schedule, it's crucial that your music licenses include coverage for livestreamed instruction—which comes with its own particular requirements. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about music licensing—in both normal times and COVID times—as well as some safe music bets that won't pose any issues.

Keep reading... Show less
Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

Keep reading... Show less
Higher Ed
The author, Robyn Watson. Photo courtesy Watson

Recently, I posted a thread of tweets elucidating the lack of respect for tap dance in college dance programs, and arguing that it should be a requirement for dance majors.

According to, out of the 30 top-ranked college dance programs in the U.S., tap dance is offered at 19 of them, but only one school requires majors to take more than a beginner course—Oklahoma City University. Many prestigious dance programs, like the ones at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and SUNY Purchase, don't offer a single course in tap dance.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.