In Memorium: Georgina Parkinson

Georgina Parkinson, ballet mistress at American Ballet Theatre, passed away in December at 71. Born in Brighton, England, Parkinson started her dance career at age 15 and joined The Royal Ballet in 1957. She was known for her solid technique and strong dramatic abilities, especially in Kenneth MacMillan’s narrative ballets. She created many roles while with the company, including Rosaline in MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet, Winifred Norbury in Sir Frederick Ashton’s Enigma Variations and Girl in Blue in Bronislava Nijinska’s masterpiece, Les Biches.

In 1978, Parkinson was appointed ballet mistress at ABT, where she taught and coached the company for more than 30 years. She continued to perform, and roles with ABT included the Stepmother in Agnes DeMille’s Fall River Legend, Madame Larina in Onegin and Lady Capulet in Romeo and Juliet. She also created the role of Mrs. Harriman in Twyla Tharp’s Everlast and a leading role in Robert Hill’s Reverie.

“She was a ‘character’ at ABT who was woven into the fabric of our identity,” says Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie. “She was bluntly forthright, but it was masked in this wonderfully neurotic necessity to make sure that everyone was the best that they could be. In the three generations of dancers she supported, there’s a certain group that will miss her like a mother and another group that will miss her as a force.”

Teachers Trending
Annika Abel Photography, courtesy Griffith

When the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May catalyzed nationwide protests against systemic racism, the tap community resumed longstanding conversations about teaching a Black art form in the era of Black Lives Matter. As these dialogues unfolded on social media, veteran Dorrance Dance member Karida Griffith commented infrequently, finding it difficult to participate in a meaningful way.

"I had a hard time watching people have these conversations without historical context and knowledge," says Griffith, who now resides in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, after many years in New York City. "It was clear that there was so much information missing."

For example, she observed people discussing tap while demonstrating ignorance about Black culture. Or, posts that tried to impose upon tap the history or aesthetics of European dance forms.

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Studio Owners
Courtesy Tonawanda Dance Arts

If you're considering starting a summer program this year, you're likely not alone. Summer camp and class options are a tried-and-true method for paying your overhead costs past June—and, done well, could be a vehicle for making up for lost 2020 profits.

Plus, they might take on extra appeal for your studio families this year. Those struggling financially due to the pandemic will be in search of an affordable local programming option rather than an expensive, out-of-town intensive. And with summer travel still likely in question this spring as July and August plans are being made, your studio's local summer training option remains a safe bet.

The keys to profitable summer programming? Figuring out what type of structure will appeal most to your studio clientele, keeping start-up costs low—and, ideally, converting new summer students into new year-round students.

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Dancer Diary
Claire McAdams, courtesy Houston Ballet

Former Houston Ballet dancer Chun Wai Chan has always been destined for New York City Ballet.

While competing at Prix de Lausanne in 2010, he was offered summer program scholarships at both the School of American Ballet and Houston Ballet. However, because two of the competition's winners that year were Houston Ballet's Aaron Sharratt and Liao Xiang, dancers Chan idolized, he turned down SAB. He joined Houston Ballet II in 2010, the main company's corps de ballet in 2012, and was promoted to principal in 2017. Oozing confidence and technical prowess, Chan was a Houston favorite, and even landed himself a spot on Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch."

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