What My Teacher Taught Me: Nancy Turano

Turano, performing in her full-length version of Carmen in 2008

Nancy Turano met legendary ballet master Alfredo Corvino as a girl, in ballet class at the New Jersey Dance Theatre Ensemble. At the time, she had no idea of his credentials. “But we all knew we were in the hands of a quiet master,” she says. Corvino's presence has continued to influence Turano throughout her career. When she joined Ballet Hispanico, she ran into him in the hallway on her first day; at her last performance with BH, in Corvino’s hometown of Montevideo, Uruguay, he sent his sister to watch. And now Turano celebrates her 20th year as artistic director of NJDTE—a position she inherited from Corvino, the founding director.

“He had his seven principles of dance, and one of them was balance. He used to balance a pencil on his finger all the time, and he would talk in terms of anatomy and physics. On my last meeting with Mr. Corvino, he was 92. We sat at his kitchen table, and I asked him again to repeat his seven principles. ‘Dear,’ he told me, ‘the most important principle is the law of balance.’ His wisdom followed me throughout my career and enabled me to dance injury-free until age 43. Now I share his words anywhere I teach.”

NJDTE celebrates its 45th anniversary season December 13 and 14 with performances of The Nutcracker at Kean University's Wilkins Theatre in NJ.

 

Photo courtesy of Turano

 

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Despite worldwide theater closures, the Universal Ballet Competition is keeping The Nutcracker tradition alive in 2020 with an online international competition. The event culminates in a streamed, full-length video of The Virtual Nutcracker consisting of winning entries on December 19. The competition is calling on studios, as well as dancers of all ages and levels, to submit videos by November 29 to be considered.

"Nutcracker is a tradition that is ingrained in our hearts," says UBC co-founder Lissette Salgado-Lucas, a former dancer with Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Joffrey Ballet. "We danced it for so long as professionals, we can't wait to pass it along to dancers through this competition."

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Robbie Sweeny, courtesy Funsch

Christy Funsch's teaching career has taken her from New York City to the Bay Area to Portugal, with a stint in a punk band in between. But this fall—fresh off a Fulbright in Portugal at the Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa, School of Dance (ESD), teaching and researching empathetic embodiment through somatic dance training—Funsch's teaching has taken her to an entirely new location: Zoom. A visiting professor at Slippery Rock University for the 2020–21 academic year, Funsch is adapting her eclectic, boundary-pushing approach to her virtual classes.

Originally from central New York State, Funsch spent 20 years performing in the Bay Area, where she also started her own company, Funsch Dance Experience. "My choreographic work from that time is in the dance-theater experiential, fantasy realm of performance," she says. "I also started blending genres and a lot of urban styles found their way into my choreography."

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News
Courtesy Meg Brooker

As the presidential election approaches, it's a particularly meaningful time to remember that we are celebrating the centennial of the 19th Amendment, when women earned the right to vote after a decades-long battle.

Movement was more than a metaphor for the fight for women's suffrage—dancers played a real role, most notably Florence Fleming Noyes, who performed her riveting solo Dance of Freedom in 1914 to embody the struggle for women's rights.

This fall, Middle Tennessee State University director of dance Meg Brooker is reconstructing Dance of Freedom on 11 of her students. A Noyes Rhythm teacher and an Isadora Duncan scholar, Brooker is passionate about bringing historic dance practices into a contemporary context.

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