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Dance class for only $10? In New York City? It seemed too good to be true, until CLASS came along. The new organization flashed onto NYC’s contemporary dance radar this spring, hosting 12 weeks of classes and workshops at three artist-run lofts in Brooklyn. Its mission is two-pronged: to make dance class more affordable, and to provide a forum where active choreographers can test the waters of teaching.
“A lot of choreographers out there have been working deeply as artists but haven’t had the opportunity to teach,” says CLASS co-founder Anna Sperber. “As a teacher, you’re finding your voice as you go. We wanted to provide a welcoming environment for that.” While some faculty members, like Miguel Gutierrez, drew longtime student followings, others were just starting out. Sperber hoped to “revitalize some of the energy surrounding dance class” by inviting teachers to try out new ideas, and by offering lower prices than most Manhattan studios.
CLASS wrapped up its first test-run in April, but plans are already churning for another series next year. Sperber is considering a more open-ended structure that would let each teacher design an ideal classroom environment, be it three straight days in the studio or a late-night class outdoors. “It’s still an experiment,” Sperber says. “But I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the interest and excitement we’ve gotten. People are really responding to our mission.” See www.classclassclass.org. —Siobhan Burke
Notes and News
Since its founding in 1976 by former New York City Ballet star Jacques d’Amboise, the National Dance Institute (NDI) has reached over two million public school children. This month, NDI’s 32nd annual Event of the Year celebrates a man who also reached millions. “A Celebration of John Lennon” honors the music, life, and legacy of the humanitarian Beatles icon. Performed by NDI’s advanced team dancers, the production includes a performance to Lennon’s inspirational “Imagine” that integrates American Sign Language. June 20–22 at LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts. —Kathleen McGuire
The Bolshoi Ballet Academy returns to NYC and Middlebury, CT, for its third annual summer intensive, June 29–Aug. 7. New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts hosts two advanced levels and a male class while the Westover School in Middlebury accommodates elementary and intermediate levels. Open to students ages 9–22, the intensive steeps dancers in the Bolshoi technique, as they work with teachers who have trained some of Russia’s most talented stars, like Natalia Osipova (see cover story, Sept. 2008). The program includes an audition for full-time enrollment at the BBA in Moscow. In addition, two students will be invited to perform in Moscow at the BBA’s annual gala performance. See www.bolshoiballetacademy.com. —Brynn Wein Shiovitz
Awards & Honors
In March, the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School granted its Rudolf Nureyev Achievement Award to year-round pre-professional students Ted Henderson and Bradley Wong. The scholarship is given annually to exemplary male students at PBTS, two from the year-round program and two from the summer intensive. Donald McKayle received an honorary doctorate from Juilliard at the school’s commencement ceremony on May 22. g On June 26, the American Dance Festival presents its 2009 Distinguished Teaching Award jointly to former Paul Taylor dancers Carolyn Adams, Ruth Andrien, and Sharon Kinney for their contributions as teachers and innovators in the field of modern dance.
Valery Anisimov taught at Bolshoi Ballet Academy's summer intensive in 2008. Photo Courtesy Bolshoi Ballet Academy.