School Buzz: Texas Celebrates 60 Years of Dance
Texas Celebrates 60 Years of Dance
Last fall, Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, TX, kicked off an anniversary celebration that will continue throughout the school year. Six decades have passed since the institution became the first American university to offer a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in ballet.
The festivities began last November with a gala concert that featured works by George Balanchine, Doris Humphrey, Jessica Lang and Robert Battle, plus those of a few faculty members. This spring, the school will host a number of guest artist residencies, and hold various performances, discussions and open-to-the-public events. For a comprehensive list of anniversary happenings, visit dance.tcu.edu.
Universities Present Annual Fall Choreography Showcases
Select students from Oklahoma City University, Marymount Manhattan College and Northwestern University had the chance to propose, create and publicly present dances at student choreography showcases held at each school last fall.
The Oklahoma City University Student Choreography Show Perfect 10 featured works by 17 dance performance seniors. John Bedford, dean of the university’s Ann Lacy School of American Dance & Arts Management, tells DS that students were required to develop routines that reflected the school’s focus on “dance for the entertainment industry.”
In NYC, Marymount Manhattan College held its annual Dancers at Work showcase, featuring the work of nine aspiring choreographers. The show was the culminating performance of workshops that met twice a week. Students chosen for the workshops were encouraged to experiment with the art of dance making, some for the first time.
At Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, the Fall Dance Concert 2009 featured the work of eight student choreographers. The show was produced by the dance department and The New Movement Project, a student dance group that works with graduating dance majors and faculty to select the pieces to be showcased.
Much of Janelle Ginestra's career has been about helping others shine. She's dedicated herself to supporting and cheerleading her partner, WilldaBeast Adams; the emerging talents in their dance company, ImmaBEAST; and the countless dancers she inspires at master classes and conventions. Her YouTube channel has become a launching pad for young talents like "Fraternal Twins" Larsen Thompson and Taylor Hatala, thanks to viral videos featuring Ginestra's creative vision.
But Ginestra's a skyrocketing success in her own right—an in-demand choreographer, a social media influencer, and a dance entrepreneur, building a legacy one eight-count at a time. It's time for her turn in the spotlight. And she's more than ready. "I want to be a legend in whatever I do," she says. We'd argue that she already is.
Daphne Lee is a queen, and not just in the "OMG Girl Boss Alert" sense of the word. She's an actual queen—a beauty queen. Crowned Miss Black USA in August, she's been doing double duty as she continues to dance with the Memphis based dance company, Collage Dance Collective. Lee's new title has given her the means to encourage other black girls and boys to pursue their dreams, while also pursuing dreams of her own. The scholarship money awarded with the pageant title will assist her as she earns a Masters of Fine Arts degree at Hollins University.
When a choreographer finds a composer whose music truly inspires her, it can feel like a match made in dance heaven. Some choreographers work with the same composers so frequently that they become known for their partnerships. New York City Ballet soloist and resident choreographer Justin Peck, for example, has tapped composer Sufjan Stevens numerous times (last spring, the two premiered The Decalogue at NYCB, to rave reviews); L.A. Dance Project's Benjamin Millepied's working relationship with composer Nico Muhly has spanned a decade and two continents; and when tap dancer Michelle Dorrance premiered the first-ever Works & Process Rotunda Project, a site-specific work for New York City's Guggenheim Museum, last year, percussionist Nicholas Van Young was by her side as an equal partner. Successful collaborations require compatibility between artists, direct and honest communication, and flexible, open minds. But when the stars align, working with a composer can be extremely rewarding.
For ballerinas, it's the dream role to end all dream roles: Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, the type of part dancers spend years preparing for and whole careers perfecting. And it's a role that New York City Ballet principal Tiler Peck never thought she'd dance. Though Peck is one of the world's preeminent ballerinas, her short stature made Odette/Odile, typically performed by longer, leggier dancers, seem (almost literally) out of reach.
Then—surprise!—her name popped up on the cast list for NYCB's fall season run of Swan Lake.
Lani Dickinson's power, grace, and raw presence make her a standout with AXIS Dance Company, whose mission is to change the face of dance and disability by featuring a mix of disabled and non-disabled performers. Born in China, Dickinson was adopted by an American couple and started dancing at 8 in Towson, MD. She attended the Boston Ballet School for two summers, studied at the Idyllwild Arts Academy for the last two years of high school, and graduated with a dance degree from Alonzo King LINES Ballet's BFA program with Dominican University of California. In 2015, she joined AXIS and won a Princess Grace Award. Catch her this month during AXIS Dance Company's 30th-anniversary season—and read on for The Dirt!