Modern Summer

American Dance Festival honors three educators, including Zvi Gotheiner.

He always seems to be in a good mood and takes the time to learn people’s names, says Rachel Straus, a dance history lecturer at The Juilliard School who has been taking class with Zvi Gotheiner since 2003. “His ballet class is composed of the most diverse group of dance people I have ever come across,” she adds, from David Hallberg and Wendy Whelan to senior citizens. “His barre is slow and methodological with exercises repeated twice on each side, and he is highly musical.”

This year on June 12, Israeli-born Gotheiner joins two others to share the Balasaraswati/Joy Ann Dewey Beinecke Endowed Chair for Distinguished Teaching at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Gotheiner is known around the world for his teaching method and is the founder of ZviDance, which performs at the festival July 12–14.

Gotheiner leading class

“I am so deeply, deeply honored to be given this award,” says Gotheiner, who teaches a pre-professional/professional-level ballet class six days a week, year-round at New York City Center Studios. “I just teach daily, and it’s something I love to do and something I committed my life to. Teaching is a very creative place for me. I’m still working on the content and the form and what to say and how to adjust in different situations.”

Gotheiner came to New York in 1978 on a dance scholarship from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation and developed his teaching method after 11 years of study with teacher Maggie Black. Her technique focused on anatomy and, most important, natural physical alignment to improve movement efficiency. Gotheiner holds to these principles in his own teaching, which caters to the individual dancer’s needs and capabilities.

James Sutton (ballet master and resident choreographer for New York Theatre Ballet and former associate arts professor in dance at NYU Tisch School) and Jaclynn Villamil (contemporary ballet instructor for 37 years and a former ADF ballet/Laban Movement Analysis educator) round out the trio of awardees this year. ADF director Jodee Nimerichter notes that past recipients of the Balasaraswati/Beinecke Award have included Pearl Primus, Matt Mattox, Carmen de Lavallade and Dr. Charles “Chuck” Davis.

This year’s festival runs June 11–July 25 and features 10 world premieres and more than 60 performances by 31 companies/choreographers. DT

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Hannah Maria Hayes is a frequent contributor to Dance Teacher.

Photos courtesy of ZviDance

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