A New Hampshire resident since 2006, Amanda Whitworth is the director of dance at Plymouth State University and the co-founder of ARTICINE, a nonprofit that uses the performing and creative arts as a means to improve people's health. Whitworth is also the founder of Lead With Arts, a consulting service working in three priority areas: performance and production, arts and health, and creative placemaking. The NH State Council on the Arts recommended her to the governor for a two-year term, February 2020 to February 2022. She is the first dancer in New Hampshire to hold the title of artist laureate. We caught up with her to hear about her new role:
When Monica Stephenson was a student at Houston Ballet Academy, she was cast as Lauren Anderson's swan double in Swan Lake. The role was just a few walks in Odile's tutu and a veil as the scene changed, but it was a thrill for the 18-year-old Stephenson. Anderson, one of the few principal ballerinas of color, was the inspiration for Stephenson to attend Houston Ballet Academy.
For the role, wardrobe gave Stephenson a few pairs of Anderson's special-order pointe shoes that were brown to match her skin tone. "That really helped me," Stephenson says. "I wound up wearing her specs my entire career. Sometimes people don't realize when they're impacting a young person."
Stephenson never forgot what it meant to have a role model like Anderson. She knew she'd want to inspire ballet students of color herself someday.
Photo by Rachel Papo
Nigel Campbell and Chanel DaSilva can't remember a time when they didn't have each other's backs. Ever since age 10, when DaSilva stood up to dance-studio bullies in Campbell's defense, their friendship has been one of mutual support, honest feedback and unending inspiration. Together, they thrived at LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and the Performing Arts, became Presidential Scholars in the Arts (even writing their winning essays about each other), graduated from The Juilliard School and went on to vibrant performing careers—DaSilva with the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company and Trey McIntyre Project, Campbell with Gibney Company and in Europe.
One fateful day in 2013, "ChaNigel" (as the pair has been known since LaGuardia) had an epiphany. DaSilva recalls: "We were talking about our lives in the dance field and asked ourselves, 'How did we get here?'" The answer, they agreed, was the army of mentors—including each other—who'd encouraged and advised them all the way. Then, Campbell says, "we realized we'd each been the only Black person, or one of the only Black people, in the room for most of our careers. Where was everybody else?!"
Photo by Rachel Papo
Months into the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing is still very much part of our reality. What does that mean for two of the most highly-anticipated dance events of the year: the 17th season of summer-TV staple "So You Think You Can Dance," and National Dance Day, planned for September 19th? We caught up with the one and only Nigel Lythgoe—executive producer of "SYT" and co-founder of NDD's host organization, American Dance Movement—to get the scoop on both.
Co-creator of Contact Improvisation, improviser extraordinaire, and founder and co-editor of Contact Quarterly, Nancy Stark Smith passed away on May 1. A force as a dancer and an educator, she created a network of love for improvisation on a global scale. She died in her home in Florence, MA, of ovarian cancer. Messages from all over the world registered shock, sadness and poetic memories on social media.
Bill Arnold, courtesy Arnold
Nancy Stark Smith in 2016
Courtesy Peter Pleyer