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Why We're Honoring Joe Tremaine With Our 2017 Award of Distinction (Spoiler Alert: Because He's Incredible)

Photo by Rose Eichenbaum

In August at the Dance Teacher Summit, we presented legendary choreographer, teacher and businessman Joe Tremaine with the Dance Teacher 2017 Award of Distinction. You may know him as the forward-thinking founder of Tremaine Dance Conventions, innovator of West Coast jazz or a choreographer to Hollywood's biggest stars. For our July 2017 cover story, Rose Eichenbaum photographed and interviewed Tremaine. But these Tremaine Dance Competitions & Conventions #TBT photos of him are just too good not to share—and far too evocative of his jazz classes, which Eichenbaum writes "included...high-powered lightning-speed combinations, which often left everyone dripping wet and in need of an oxygen tank." Scroll through for Tremaine's thoughts on what he's sought in his career and the state of dance today.


"As a dancer I've always needed to be moving, and having a school allowed me to dance whenever I wanted to. You know, we dance primarily for ourselves. But it's also been my passion to help aspiring dancers and choreographers along the way."

"I have two [personal dance heroes]. June Taylor, for waking me up to the world of dance both technically and professionally. And Chita Rivera, for inspiring me and showing me what is possible on the stage. I picture them one on each shoulder guiding me."

"Dance [today] has never been better. More people know about dance today than at any other time in history because of social media. It's a great time for dance as a profession and in terms of what dancers are capable of doing technically and artistically."

"All the kids want to take contemporary now. But often the choreography is not age-appropriate. You have 6- to 8-year-olds trying to show us their angst. Give me a break! Teachers have to know when their students have enough maturity and experience to make a contemporary number work."

"I've been very, very, very lucky in my career. I'd be happy to continue doing what I'm doing—to continue helping as many dancers as possible. I tell them, "If you want to succeed in this business, make it simple. Find the game and get in it. Study your craft and never stop learning."

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