Seven All-Star Choreographers on the College Teaching Circuit
Doug Varone leads a class held at Lehman College in the Bronx, NY. (Alex Springer, courtesy Varone)
Top dance programs attract top faculty—people who direct companies, tour the world and, most importantly, hire dancers. That's why we've rounded up a list of all-star choreographers who are particularly committed to teaching and mentoring undergrads. You're just as likely to encounter them in the classroom as you are to audition for them after you graduate. Get to know them, and then look for their names under your course listings this fall.
Doug Varone, director of Doug Varone and Dancers
Doug Varone and Dancers celebrates its 30th anniversary during the 2016/2017 season, making him a venerable presence in the American modern dance scene. While Varone continues to create for his own company, his choreography has also been performed by Batsheva Dance Company, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, the Martha Graham Dance Company and others.
Find him at: Purchase College, State University of New York
Past college credentials: Varone has taught at dozens of colleges and universities—everywhere from the University of Akron to Skidmore College.
Why He loves working with college students: “They're learning new ways to accomplish tasks they thought they understood, and it's exciting to open creative doors for them.
The connection between the liberal and performing arts is vital to dancers' growth—that's key for me in a college community."
Sidra Bell and dancers in her class (photo by Gabrielle Garruppo, courtesy Bell)
Sidra Bell, director of Sidra Bell Dance New York
Sidra Bell Dance New York has performed Bell's introspective, precise choreography worldwide. She's been commissioned to set work on L.A.-based company BODYTRAFFIC, Visceral Dance Chicago and many other companies.
Find her at: Ball State University and University of the Arts
Past college credentials: The Juilliard School, Cornish College of the Arts, California State University, Long Beach, Harvard University
Why She loves working with college students: “College dancers create an electric environment. They're learning to stand on their technique while becoming better collaborators in the studio. It's truly gratifying to act as a mentor and guide as they tackle questions."
Jennifer Archibald (Alastair Christopher, courtesy Archibald)
Jennifer Archibald, director of Arch Dance Company
Arch Dance Company has toured everywhere from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, displaying Archibald's signature blend of hip hop and contemporary.
Find her at: Yale University and Barnard College
Past college credentials: Bates College, Columbia College Chicago, the University of South Florida
Why she loves working with college students: “At the college level, students who choose dance really want to be there. That enthusiasm allows room for growth."
Driscoll working with students in class (Mark Oxier, courtesy Driscoll)
Faye Driscoll, independent choreographer
When she's not winning Bessie Awards or earning Guggenheim Fellowships, Driscoll tours her work internationally. She's currently developing Thank You For Coming: Play, part two of a three-part dance-theater piece that showcases her humorous approach to heavy issues. (Think alienation versus community.)
Find her at: Driscoll most recently held a fellowship at Wesleyan University.
Past college credentials: Ohio State University; Connecticut College; University of Colorado, Boulder
Why she loves working with college students: “College-level dancers use the academic environment to boldly cross disciplines. They're expanding the form."
Shannon Gillen (David Flores, courtesy Gillen)
Shannon Gillen, director of VIM VIGOR
Shannon Gillen is known in Europe and NYC for her athletic and fearless dance-theater choreography. Though VIM VIGOR is a relatively young company (it was founded in 2014), Gillen has been teaching for years and has choreographed over 22 works since 2010.
Find her at: Purchase College, State University of New York
Past college credentials: New York University, Ailey/Fordham BFA Program, Alonzo King LINES Ballet at Dominican University of California
Why she loves working with college students: “College is an intense threshold of transformation, challenged by a natural impatience. I try to help students see the value of working toward future goals. I love how wild and flexible the mind of a dancer is at this age!"
Patrick Corbin (in blue) coaching students at USC (Rose Eichenbaum, courtesy USC)
Patrick Corbin, Paul Taylor répétiteur and director of CorbinDances
After a nearly 40-year career, first as a ballet dancer and then as a member of Paul Taylor Dance Company, Corbin has plenty of experience to draw from as a director and stager of Taylor's work.
Find him at: University of Southern California
Past college credentials: University of California, Irvine; University of Michigan
Why he loves working with college students: “Incoming freshmen are poised to make great strides. I have the prospect of not only training dancers but shaping the kind of citizen they might become."
Yerushalmy's PICTOGRAMS (a 2014 ADF commission), performed here by Rutgers University students (Christopher Duggan, courtesy Yerushalmy)
Netta Yerushalmy, independent choreographer
Yerushalmy's experimental, imaginative work has been presented at famous downtown dance venues in NYC: La MaMa, Danspace Project, Movement Research and more. She's also collaborated, performed and taught internationally.
Find her at: Yerushalmy has an ongoing choreographic relationship with University of the Arts.
Past college credentials: University of Utah; Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey; The College at Brockport, State University of New York
Why she loves working with college students: “College students exude potential—they're thrilling to interact with. They don't hold back or get territorial, and they're intellectually hungry."
It's time to get your pirouette on! From September 5th to September 30th, we're hosting a contest to find out who's the best turner of them all.
Put together your most impressive turning combo. Post a video online. Share your turns with us and thousands of other dancers around the world. And if our editors think you're the top turner, you'll win a fabulous prize.
All of 18-year-old Kaylin Maggard's dreams—from scoring the title of National Senior Outstanding Dancer at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals to winning the 2017 Dance Spirit Cover Model Search—are coming true. And to anyone who knows the gorgeous contemporary dancer, that's no surprise.
From the moment the Dance Spirit staff met Kaylin, it was obvious her humility and talent would take her far. Not only did she go full-out during the photo shoot and class at Broadway Dance Center, but she was always cheering on, laughing with, and supporting her fellow CMS contestants Haley Hartsfield and Michelle Quiner. During the voting period, the social media world was abuzz with praise for her work ethic, positive attitude, and generosity.
Since her CMS trip to NYC, Kaylin's moved from her hometown of Columbia, MO, to the Big Apple for her freshman year at Juilliard, and is busy getting acquainted with the city. As for the future? She's taking it one opportunity at a time, but something tells us we'll be seeing this contemporary queen reach new heights every year.
New York City principal Lauren Lovette has become an icon thanks to her emotional maturity and exceptional musicality. The 26-year-old quickly rose through the ranks after joining the company as an apprentice in 2009, reaching principal status in 2015. A Thousand Oaks, CA, native, Lovette started studying ballet seriously at age 11, at the Cary Ballet Conservatory in Cary, NC. After attending two summer courses at the School of American Ballet, she enrolled as a full-time student in 2006. Last year, she made her choreographic debut with For Clara, her first piece for NYCB. Catch her latest work this month during the company's fall season. —Courtney Bowers
In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email email@example.com for a chance to be featured!
I know I'm not getting good enough dance training from any of my local studios. But I'm not sure I'm ready to move away to study at a big-name school, either. How do you know when you're ready to leave home to pursue your passion?
Instagram star Kylie Shea has built a following of nearly 170,000 with her playful workout videos, which combine traditional fitness activities, like jumping rope or running on the treadmill, with pointe shoes and sassy choreography. Shea's effortless cool-girl-next-door vibe and solid ballet technique make her vids totally irresistible.
Now Shea's using her platform to address the body image issues that tend to plague dancers. In a poignant video, she sheds her clothes and tugs at her skin. The caption explains her relationship with her body and the pressure she feels to maintain a certain aesthetic as a dancer.
Physical discomfort is inevitable when you're spending tons of hours in the studio every day, but some pain shouldn't be suffered through. "Dancing through pain can make an injury worse and lead to more time away from dance," says Dr. Joel Brenner, medical director of dance medicine at Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters in Norfolk, VA. "Failing to rest and recover when you're in serious pain could even lead to the point where you're unable to dance in the future."
That may sound scary, but there's good news: If you take precautions and listen to your body, many injuries can be stopped in their tracks. The first step? Knowing what's normal—and what's not.
Think about it: How often do you see a ballet pas de deux for two women? Almost never, right? Sometimes, choreographers will forgo the traditional danseur-ballerina pas to make a duet for two guys, since they can lift and partner each other easily. But a dance for two ballerinas is a rare thing.
That's part of what makes "Duet," a new video by director Andrew Margetson featuring Royal Ballet beauties Yasmin Naghdi and Beatriz Stix-Brunell, so compelling.