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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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Dance News

Anindo Marshall

The University of Southern California Glorya Kaufman School of Dance has added six new faculty members to its roster this fall: Tiffany Bong, hip-hop expert; Alison D’Amato, choreographer and researcher; Jennifer McQuiston Lott, ballet artist; Anindo Marshall, percussionist and African dance teacher; Achinta McDaniel, a Bollywood artist; and Christian Vincent, commercial dance choreographer. The recent hires bring diversity to the department’s course offerings with new classes in Bollywood, Afro-Cuban, contemporary, ballet, hip hop, jazz and dance studies.

Achinta McDaniel

Photos (from top): by Isabel Avila; by Earl S. McDaniel III, courtesy of USC (2)

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Dance News

Yesterday afternoon, I had the pleasure of witnessing exciting news in dance education. Teachers College at Columbia University is launching a new doctoral program in dance education to begin fall 2017, thanks to a $4.36 million gift from Jody Gottfried Arnhold and her husband John. The news was announced at a luncheon at the school.

When I arrived, I could feel the excitement as teachers, administrators and advocates from TC and other New York cultural institutions greeted one another. I was happy to see some familiar faces: Kathleen Isaac, a 2016 DT awardee and director of Hunter College’s Arnhold Graduate Dance Education Program; Patricia Dye, one of the five outstanding teachers featured in the Emmy-nominated documentary P.S. Dance!; and Dance Theatre of Harlem artistic director Virginia Johnson, to name a few.

Before speeches got underway, I spoke with Tom James, provost and dean of Teachers College. He told me the program has a three-pronged approach to training master dance educators—offering specialization in teacher education, leadership and policy and movement sciences. There are also plans for collaboration with the art and music departments.

After a warm introduction by Teachers College president Susan Fuhrman, Jody Arnhold took the podium. She gave a rousing speech about the importance of dance education and how TC’s new doctoral program will take it to the next level. Pending state approval, the new program will start in fall 2017. “I look forward to welcoming the first class next year. Maybe I’ll be in it,” said Arnhold, to the delight of her peers.

Kathleen Isaac, art education professor Mary Hafeli and Patricia Dye also spoke, and a trailer for P.S. Dance! was shown. While watching the footage, I remembered what a joy it was to speak last year with Catherine Gallant, one of the five teachers featured in the film. The work she and other public school dance teachers are doing is truly inspirational.

To cap off the celebration, members of Patricia Dye’s Jow-Ile-Bailar Dance Company from Science Skills High School for Science, Technology and the Creative Arts performed an uplifting dance for the crowd, and we all sang happy birthday to Jody Arnhold. What better way to celebrate than to see this new doctoral program realized?

Since the launch of the new program’s website, TC has received more than two dozen inquiries from prospective students. For more information, visit: tc.columbia.edu/danceed.

Jody Gottfried Arnhold (in navy) stands with Patricia Dye, Susan H. Fuhrman, TC trustee Dailey Pattee, TC board vice chair Leslie Morse Nelson and members of Jow-Ile-Bailar Dance Company at the luncheon on October 18.

Photo by Bruce Gilbert, courtesy of Teachers College

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