School Buzz: Jacob’s Pillow Awards Excellence
Jacob’s Pillow Awards Excellence
I-Fen Lin dreamed of dancing at Jacob’s Pillow from the moment she first learned of the dance mecca, seven years ago in a Western Dance History class at Taipei National University of the Arts. Little did the Taiwan native know that her fantasy would one day be fulfilled: The School at Jacob’s Pillow recently selected Lin, 26, to be the 2009 recipient of its Lorna Strassler Award for Student Excellence!
Lin, now pursing an MFA in modern dance at the University of Utah, was selected for the award based on her spring audition for the Contemporary Traditions Program at The School at Jacob’s Pillow. It was during this extremely competitive process that she demonstrated her superior technique and performance quality, along with a strong work ethic and unwavering commitment to dance.
The best part: The award comes with a full scholarship to any one of the school’s professional programs and a $2,500 cash stipend. Lin couldn’t be happier. “I was amazed that I had been chosen for this award! I couldn’t stop thinking about how I had read about Jacob’s Pillow in my textbooks and now I was being awarded this great honor,” she says. As for the prize money, Lin already has a plan: “My thesis is going to be amazing now! Just think of all the sets, costumes and props I will be able to use. Maybe I’ll even be able to take it on tour!”
Alexandra May Ballance turns 11 this month and she’s already got a choreography credit on her resumé! In addition to dancing with Washington D.C.’s Joy of Motion Dance Center Youth Dance Ensemble and attending Potomac Elementary School, the Maryland native found the time to create a work called Disconnections. The modern piece premiered in January at a concert for the DC-based CrossCurrents Dance Company.
This fall the dance hit the stage of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where Alexandra and two of her fellow Joy of Motion dancers performed it during Dance/MetroDC’s 9th Annual Metro DC Dance Awards ceremony.
Alexandra created the dance as part of an independent choreography project with the guidance of her teacher Helen Hayes (Hayes was a finalist at this year’s Metro DC Dance Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Dance Education). As for her process, Alexandra says she always begins choreographing the same way. “I turn on the music, I start dancing and I think about what I like,” she says. “I express my feelings through the movement of dance.” Next on her list of goals: middle school!—Colleen Bohen
Tap Takes Chicago
Chicago Human Rhythm Project (CHRP) held its 19th annual Rhythm World tap festival this past summer. Nearly 500 participants took classes with a cast of tap legends, including Jason Samuels Smith, Step Afrika! artistic director Jakari Sherman and Idella Reed Davis – to name a few!
DS caught up with CHRP co-founder and director Lane Alexander to find out his favorite festival moments and hear his thoughts on the future of American tap. Check it out at dancespirit.com/.—Colleen Bohen
Bard Teams with Bill T.
Bard College’s dance program is bridging the gap between the undergraduate and professional dance worlds through a new partnership with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. This fall the program began offering two modern dance technique classes and a methods course focusing on Bill T. Jones’ choreographic process. All are being taught by current and former company members. —Colleen Bohen
Dance is a powerful form of expression, and Ahmad Joudeh is using its influence to promote peace.
The 27-year-old is a Palestinian refugee, whose decision to pursue his passion for ballet has made him the target of death threats from terrorist organizations. Despite the danger, Joudeh has decided to continue on his path as a dancer, using his performances as an opportunity to spread a message of peace and cultural awareness.
For 14-year-old Averi Hodgson, focusing on her ballet training while growing up was never easy: She's suffered from epilepsy since she was in first grade, and later, she was also diagnosed with scoliosis. Here, she tells her story of perseverance—and how her determination earned her a spot at the School of American Ballet's 2017 summer intensive.
"Late Late Show" host James Corden was one of the many, many people shocked by President Trump's sudden decision to ban transgender people from the military yesterday. And he decided to voice his outrage in the way most likely to rile a President who's uncomfortable with anything "un-manly": through a big, beautiful, extra-sparkly song-and-dance routine.
In addition to training, competing and winning titles in just about every style you can think of, 13-year-old Kaylee Quinn is a regular on the sci-fi drama "Stitchers," playing the younger version of the show's main character. Her path in dance hasn't been without challenges, though. Last summer, Kaylee won the Hope Award at her regional Youth America Grand Prix, but wasn't sure she'd be able to compete at the NYC finals due to a broken foot. Patience paid off: With her doctor's blessing, Kaylee danced her variations in flat shoes and won the gold medal.
Week 2 of Misty Copeland as guest judge, week 2 of merciless cuts...How can the final episodes of "World of Dance" possibly live up to the sheer dramaaaaaaaaa of last night's episode? Well, based on the nail-biting results dished out by Copeland and Co. last night, the competition is only going to get fiercer from here. Without further ado, last night's results, as told by Kween Misty.
Every ballet dancer knows the time, sweat, and occasional tears the art form demands. But many non-dancers are clueless about just how much work a ballet dancer puts into perfecting his or her dancing. So when the mainstream crowd recognizes our crazy work ethic, we'll accept the round of applause any way it comes—even if it comes via four men in tutus. Yep, we're talking about "The Try Guys Try Ballet" video.