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."
There's a common misconception that a dancer's body has to be thin. But the truth is that talent knows no body type, and the number on the scale never determines an artist's capabilities. Here are some extraordinary dancers fighting the stereotype of what a dancer "should" look like.
Getting corrections from our dance instructors is how we grow, and as students, it's important that we do our best to apply every correction right away. But sometimes—whether it's because we're in physical pain, or have a lot on our minds, or are just not paying attention—those corrections don't sink in. And from a teacher's standpoint, giving the same corrections time and time again gets old very fast. Here are 10 important corrections dance teachers are tired of giving. Take them to heart!
Summer intensive auditions can be nerve-racking. A panel of directors is watching your every move, and you're not even sure if you can be seen among the hundreds of other dancers in the room. We asked five summer intensive directors for their input on how dancers can make a positive impression—and even be remembered next year.
We always love a good halftime performance. And we LIVE for halftime performances involving talented kids. (Fingers and toes crossed that Justin Timberlake follows Missy Elliott's lead and invites some fabulous littles to share his Super Bowl stage.)
So obviously, our hearts completely melted for 5-year-old Tavaris Jones. Tavaris may have just started kindergarten, but during Monday night's game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors, the Detroit native danced with the panache of a veteran pro at halftime.
The coolest place she's ever performed:
I'd have to say the Super Bowl. The field was so cool, and Katy Perry was right there. And there were so many eyes—definitely the most eyes I've ever performed for!
Something she's constantly working on:
My feet. I'm flat-footed, so I'm always hearing, 'Point your toes!' And I'm like, 'I am!'
My hair! That, and a pair of leggings with a T-shirt or tank top.
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!
For a long time, I was the strongest dancer at my studio. But this year there's a new girl in my class who's very talented, and my teacher's attention has definitely shifted to her. I'm trying not to feel jealous or discouraged, but it seems like my whole dance world has changed. Help!
In the dance world, Mandy Moore has long been a go-to name, but in 2017, the success of her choreography for La La Land made the rest of the world stop and take notice. After whirlwind seasons as choreographer and producer on both "Dancing with the Stars" and "So You Think You Can Dance," she capped off the year with two Emmy Award nominations—and her first win. Dance Magazine caught up with her to find out how she's balancing all of her dance projects.