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Hunter ensures that her students work with at least eight guest artists before they graduate. Photo by Angela Zanaglio, courtesy of Mercyhurst University

"When I was 15, my mother decided that I should get a job," says Tauna Hunter. "She said, 'Do what you know how to do.' So I started teaching children in my basement and decided then that dance was going to make me a living."

Now in her 60s, Hunter has never had a job outside the dance field. After receiving two degrees from the University of Utah, dancing as a principal with Ballet West and owning and operating a dance-networking business, Hunter became chair of the dance department at Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pennsylvania. For the past 23 years, she has drawn on her entrepreneurial spirit, vast network and diverse professional experiences in service of one of the nation's hidden gems for ballet-based training. Mercyhurst graduates go on to careers in ballet companies, commercial dance, dance pedagogy and other fields, thanks to Hunter's comprehensive curriculum and unwavering dedication to her students. "This program is really a culmination of my positive experiences in the field," says Hunter. "I've tried to take the best of everything I experienced and implement that here."

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The cast of On The Town

Dance is always big at the Tonys, but especially this year, with several crossover stars from the dance world occupying major Broadway roles. New York City Ballet principal Robert Fairchild, who stars in An American in Paris, lost best lead actor to Michael Cerveris of Fun Home, but we still enjoyed seeing Fairchild's dreamy lovers’ pas de deux with Leanne Cope. Christopher Wheeldon, making his director-choreographer debut, took home the well-deserved Tony for best choreography for An American in Paris.

Leanne Cope and Robert Fairchild at the 2015 Tony Awards.

Other highlights included a medley from the always energetic On the Town cast (featuring NYCB’s Megan Fairchild and introduced by ballet’s celeb of the moment Misty Copeland), a regal performance by Chita Rivera from The Visit and the news that Tommy Tune received a lifetime achievement award. “My father’s great dream for me was the same as every Texas father’s dream for their first born son: They wanted us all to leave Texas, go to New York and dance in the chorus of a Broadway show,” he said in his acceptance speech. “I did it, and I loved every single time step.”

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