School Buzz: UNCSA Teams Up With ABT
UNCSA Teams Up With ABT
Wish you could get the world-class training of the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre without the hustle and bustle of NYC? Now you can. This fall, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) School of Dance becomes JKO’s exclusive affiliate school. UNCSA School of Dance will begin to use ABT’s National Training Curriculum in its preparatory, high school and collegiate divisions.
As part of the agreement, all UNCSA ballet faculty will be trained and certified in the ABT curriculum, and the students will be offered regular master classes from ABT staff and faculty. ABT executive director Rachel S. Moore will advise UNCSA and she says the partnership effectively makes UNCSA like a second campus for JKO. “Every student from both schools will also be monitored and evaluated for potential membership in the studio company, the primary feeder into ABT,” Moore says.
Pace's New Commercial Dance Major
Calling all comp kids! This fall, Pace University in NYC is launching a new commercial dance program designed to train dancers who want to work professionally on both coasts. Rhonda Miller, Pace’s director of dance, says her experience as a teacher on the convention circuit helped her to see the need for this program. “Most college dance programs are ballet- or modern-based,” she says. “While those are of the utmost importance, I still find that many of the studio-trained students I meet are frustrated because they can’t continue focusing on the styles they grew up studying.”
Courtney Taylor, a senior acting major at Pace, plans to add a second major in commercial dance this fall. She feels that the new program will help her to become a more well-rounded performer. “Rhonda’s philosophy has to do with the fact that she wants dancers to be able to work and get paid for their art,” Courtney says. “I think that’s something many other college programs just brush over.”
Dancers in the program will take all of the academic classes required to earn a liberal arts degree, along with a variety of technique classes, including ballet, modern, contemporary, hip hop, tap and theater dance. Students will also attend regular seminars designed to help them develop the practical skills they need to survive in the industry—everything from working on-camera to editing music and creating resumés.
Harper Watters is a ballet dancer for today's generation. A social media maestro and a charismatic performer, the Houston Ballet soloist is equally at home in front of the camera hosting his hit YouTube series, "The Pre Show"; interacting with fans on his crazy-popular Instagram account; or showing off his beautiful classical technique onstage. It's a multifaceted identity that's proven to be invaluable to his career—and it's taking him to places he never even dreamed of.
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.
When we think of a dancer who's broken barriers, American Ballet Theatre principal Misty Copeland tends to be the name that comes to mind. And though Copeland has been a crucial advocate for equality in the world of ballet, Raven Wilkinson—a mentor of Copeland's—is considered one of the original pioneers of the movement.
In 1955, Wilkinson became the first African American to dance with the renowned Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Her fortitude in the face of bigotry and hate cemented her legacy. Now, with the release of the new children's book Trailblazer: The Story of Ballerina Raven Wilkinson, a new generation of dancers will be inspired by her tale of overcoming obstacles to achieve a dream.
The book details Wilkinson's life, from her experience as a young dancer training in Harlem, to her run-ins with the Ku Klux Klan while on tour with Ballet Russe, to her later ballet career in Europe. "There were times where my heart really hurt because of the situations I had to deal with," she says. "But I always had faith that I was made to be a dancer and that I was gonna dance."
Dance Spirit spoke with Wilkinson to discuss the new book and get her take on racial equality within the ballet world.
Postmodern pioneer Trisha Brown redefined how dance is seen and felt. A founding member of Judson Dance Theater, Brown frequently collaborated with other experimental artists like Yvonne Rainer, Merce Cunningham, Twyla Tharp, and Steve Paxton.
She embraced pedestrian movement, pairing everyday gesture with rhythm and fluidity. "It's liquid," says Wendy Perron, who danced with Brown in the '60s and '70s. "Like a river with many tributaries, water coming out of a faucet, or being on a raft and seeing the water move away in different directions." Brown also pushed beyond stages with choreography in fields, museums—even on the sides of buildings.
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.