News: And the NYIBC Ilona Copen Award Goes to…

Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux and Patricia McBride danced together with New York City Ballet for the first time in 1970, and it was a match made in ballet heaven. He, a dashing Paris Opéra Ballet dancer, and she, Balanchine’s muse for 19 ballets, fell in love and have been a team ever since. They now lead North Carolina Dance Theatre and its professional school, as well as the summer dance program of the Chautauqua Institute in New York.


This month the New York International Ballet Competition (NYIBC) will honor the couple with the first ever Ilona Copen Award, named for NYIBC’s founder who passed away in February 2010. “Bonnefoux and McBride have provided young ballet dancers with the finest educational and cultural experiences,” says NYIBC executive director Jacques Burgering. “These elements were so important to Ilona and are crucial for the NYIBC competition as a whole.”


The gala at NYU’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts will also include performances by American Ballet Theatre, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Limón Dance Company, New Jersey Ballet, the Joffrey Ballet and others, as well as an excerpt of Beyond the Gold, a documentary about NYIBC that features Copen. Info:


Photo: McBride and Bonnefoux on the January 2008 cover of DT (by Roger Ball)

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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