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In 2011, New York City–based choreographer Pedro Ruiz returned to Cuba after 21 years of dancing with Ballet Hispanico and more than 30 years being away. The experience was so moving that he created The Windows Project as a continuous cultural collaboration between American artists and Cuban dancers.

"I was so overwhelmed seeing all the dancers do Afro-Cuban dance with live music. It was the moment my soul reconnected to Cuba and to my roots," says Ruiz of his first trip back. "I started weeping." He saw that, while Cuban companies and schools have amazing knowledge and passion for dance, they needed access to train with teachers in a variety of techniques, and choreographers outside of Cuba. "Cuba is still struggling economically, so the dancers also don't have good ballet shoes or costumes, and The Windows Project was my way to begin to help," he says.

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Doug Varone and Dancers. Photo by Alex Springer, courtesy of Doug Varone and Dancers

Doug Varone and Dancers will host its DEVICES: Choreographic Intensive & Mentorship Program at Hunter College in New York City, May to August. Now in its third year, the program is designed for emerging choreographers who have begun creating and showing their work publicly. Celebrating the company's 30th-anniversary season, Varone and his company members will guide participants through a three-section process of generating material for a new work. Participants' dances will be shown at the end of the intensive in August. dougvaroneanddancers.org

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Joanne Chapman cultivates excellence and a familial atmosphere at her Canadian studio. Photo by Don Boskovic/Exposé Studios, courtesy of Chapman

Four incredible educators: Joanne Chapman, Claudio Muñoz, Pamela VanGilder and Kathleen Isaac foster their students' love of dance, whether instilling artistry, offering rigorous training or giving special needs students an outlet through movement.

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