Graham principal Blakeley White-McGuire in costume for Cave of the Heart

At the 2015 Harkness Dance Festival at the 92nd Street Y in New York City, audiences can delve into the creation of Martha Graham’s Cave of the Heart. The Martha Graham Dance Company will perform March 13–15 as part of the festival’s Stripped/Dressed performance concept, designed to illuminate the creative process behind a piece before it is performed.

During the opening “stripped” portion of the evening, audience members will learn about Graham’s codified technique and the movement motifs she created for different characters in this retelling of the Greek myth of Medea. These could be useful discussions for aspiring dancemakers and modern dance students. Attendees can also explore the set pieces up close, designed by sculptor Isamu Noguchi.

Then, dancers get “dressed” and perform the work in its entirety. Other performers at this year’s Harkness Dance Festival have included Adam Barruch, The Bang Group and Vicky Shick Dance, with Sally Silvers still to come, March 20–22.

Additionally, K–12 teachers attending the Dance Education Lab (DEL)/Harkness Dance Festival Intensive take a four-hour master class the Saturday after each Friday-night performance to explore the choreographic strategies of each artist and make connections to NYC's Department of Education dance curriculum guidelines. More on that program here.

 Photo by Nathan Sayers for Dance Magazine

Natalia Markarova, center, in Howard's class. Photo by Victor Deliso, courtesy of Dance Magazine archives.

“I've always liked to question things," says renowned ballet teacher and coach David Howard. His success in training dancers, from adult beginners to seasoned ballerinas, is proof that Howard is asking the right questions. Never one to rest on his laurels, the master educator is also a tireless student of dance pedagogy. His teaching philosophy focuses on a scientific approach to movement, incorporating anatomy and kinesiology as well as movement dynamics and musicality.

He doesn't hesitate to challenge the sanctity of the centuries-old traditions of ballet training: “I have to prove every day that I can do what I do, and then I have to reevaluate—is it working or isn't it? Do the students look better?"

In the five years since he has closed his school, the David Howard Dance Center, Howard has not skipped a beat. He has taught in England, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Japan and Mexico, in addition to maintaining a busy teaching schedule in New York City at Broadway Dance Center, Steps on Broadway and at the Joffrey/New School University BFA program.

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