Seven All-Star Choreographers on the College Teaching Circuit
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."
Congratulations to Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers by clicking on their names here:
And then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.
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get social! We'll be factoring social media likes and shares into our final tallies. Be sure to show your favorite finalist some love on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, sharing their profile pages and using the hashtag #DanceSpiritCMS.
Dancers are naturally "in their heads" all the time—but not always in productive ways. Long days of receiving and applying corrections, taking class, and performing can get to even the most composed individuals. What should you do when you feel like your mind is just as busy as your rehearsal schedule? Try meditation. Dance Spirit turned to Adreanna Limbach, a head teacher at NYC-based meditation studio MNDFL, for a breakdown of this highly beneficial practice.
It's an increasingly common scenario: A talented dancer wins big at a competition, is offered an assistantship with a famous faculty member, and ends up leaving her hometown studio to travel with a convention. Convention-hopping has obvious benefits. Every event generates new content for dancers to post on social media, gives them a better shot at ending up on their favorite choreographers' accounts, lets them learn from the best of the best, and helps them make valuable connections. "Traveling is a great way for dancers to gain admirers around the country," says Jen Jarnot, owner of Artistic Fusion Dance Academy in Thornton, CO. "That's something every dancer craves." So it's no surprise that weekend FOMO has been blazing through studios like wildfire.
But is this jet-setter lifestyle really the most effective road to take? Can weekends of dancing with top talent truly replace the bread and butter of daily work at your home studio? The answer, according to most industry experts, is no. We asked five pros to explain why.