Leah Cox: From Performer to Educator

Photo by Paul B. Goode (courtesy of Leah Cox)

Former Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company member Leah Cox knew it was time to make the transition from performer to educator when she started feeling selfish. “I felt I'd spent enough time in the company," Cox says. “I was beginning to discover that entirely different world that becomes available when you approach dance as an educator, versus as a performer." When Bard College approached Bill T. Jones in 2009 about forming an education partnership, Cox jumped at the chance to head it up. She's now education director of New York Live Arts—downtown dance venue and home base for Bill T. Jones—as well as a master teaching artist during the National YoungArts Foundation's YoungArts Week. Over the course of one week in January, Cox and Jones will work with YoungArts alumni in Miami to create an interdisciplinary work.

Structuring her YoungArts master class: “I teach an interdisciplinary class to get the students to acknowledge the current state of art-making and performance, so that they start imagining how to work with people in other disciplines. It's not just that they're going to get on the stage together and each sing or dance or act or play music or write, but that they're going to make something that's integrated."

Working with high school students: “In terms of their development, collaboration is where they're at: They're really curious to work with one another, moving beyond their own sphere. It's natural—not a push. These kids are suddenly surrounded by other people who think about and love art just like they do. It feels like a homecoming for them that they've never had before."

YoungArts Week takeaway: “I tend to get bogged down and depressed about the state of the arts—raising money, getting audiences in seats—but when I get to work with students at that level who love the arts and aren't jaded, it gives me inspiration. I love to look at this next generation coming up, telling us: 'It still matters.'" DT

Education: BA in philosophy, minor in religion and

concentration in dance from Texas Christian University

Performance Career: danced with California-based McCaleb Dance right out of college; member of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, 2001–2009

Teaching Credits: education director of New York Live Arts, where she's in charge of educational programming for Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and the artists

presented by Live Arts; YoungArts master teaching artist since 2011

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