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Last night at Parsons Dance's 2019 gala, the company celebrated one of our own: DanceMedia owner Frederic M. Seegal.

In a speech, artistic director David Parsons said that he wanted to honor Seegal for the way he devotes his energy to supporting premier art organizations, "making sure that the arts are part of who we are," he said.

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In our September issue’s History: Lesson Plan, we learn about Bessie Schönberg, a celebrated composition teacher at Sarah Lawrence College for nearly 40 years, known for championing her students’ individuality. A revered mentor, she helped shape the creative work of four generations of artists.

Schönberg at Bennington College in 1934

Fun fact: The New York Dance and Performance Awards, which were established in 1983 to honor innovative dance work, are more commonly referred to as “The Bessies” in honor of Schönberg. She received her own Bessie Award for lifetime service to dance in 1988.

The 2016 Bessies take place Tuesday, October 18, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music Howard Gilman Opera House. Among the nominees for awards in outstanding production, revival, performer, emerging choreographer, music composition/sound design and visual design are Camille A. Brown, Justin Peck, Donald McKayle, Ephrat Asherie and Gillian Murphy. Check out the full list of nominees here.

Photo courtesy of the American Dance Festival archives

For more on Schönberg, subscribe to Dance Teacher and receive the September issue.

Michelle Dorrance

Last we checked in with Michelle Dorrance (DT, May 2012), she had been named a 2015 MacArthur Fellow, an honor that came with a no-strings-attached $625,000 grant. Since then, tap dance’s leading lady has been busy! Last night, she premiered her most recent endeavor ETM: Double Down, an evening-length show created in collaboration with dancer and percussionist Nicholas Van Young.

This wasn’t your average tap show. The performers danced on specialized platforms created by Van Young that not only amplified their taps, but also responded with a variety of synthesized sounds. Each movement sparked a different auditory response which, when contextualized in Dorrance’s brilliant choreography, made for an extremely synchronous experience as an audience member, both visually and audibly. It was a sensory sensation.

Nicholas Van Young

Dorrance’s choreography and use of technology really launched tap dance into the next millennium. Along with the musical platforms, the performance contained electronic looping, body percussion, drums, cello, chains, a vocal performance by Aaron Marcellus and the awesome physical feats of B-girl Ephrat Asherie.

Perhaps most impressive, though, was Michelle Dorrance herself. The woman sure can tap! From lightning-speed improvisational solos to the soft pulse of a simple toe to floor, she really pulled me into her performance.

Dorrance Dance will be at The Joyce Theater in NYC through Sunday.

(L-R) Demi Remick, Karida Griffith, Gregory Richardson, Warren Craft, Caleb Teicher and Michelle Dorrance

Photos by Christopher Duggan, courtesy of Dorrance Dance

Don’t miss a single issue of Dance Teacher.

Ephrat "Bounce" Asherie might be at the top of her game—she just received two Bessie Award nominations and her company makes its Jacob's Pillow debut next month—but she still suffers from self-doubt and perfectionism. When she began taking breaking classes from Robert "Break Easy" Santiago in Brooklyn, New York, she had to draw upon her self-confidence to successfully battle with other break dancers.

"When I was finally ready to start battling, Robert told me: 'The hardest battle will always be with yourself.' As artists, we're ripe with self-doubt, because creating and performing work is such a vulnerable thing. Robert helped me confront that vulnerability in a way that made it manageable. When you battle another dancer, it's all about reacting to that person. You have to have the confidence to say, 'Well, maybe I can't do that movement that she did, but whatever I'm doing is going to top that, because I know my own value. I can define my worth as a dancer.'"

Ephrat Asherie Dance performs at Jacob's Pillow Inside/Out series on August 7.

Photo by Christiana Marcelli

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