Curtain Up

July 31, 2007
We all need someone to look up to. We enter dance class, and right away there is someone to watch, someone to admire. It’s part of falling in love with dance. I think the first girl who captivated me in ballet class, when I was 7, was 13. Over the years I had many idols: At the American Dance Festival it was Yuriko Kimura; at the Martha Graham studio it was Noemi Lapzeson; at School of American Ballet it was Hilda Morales and Lili Cockerille; at the Joffrey School it was Lisa (Rita) Bradley and Noël Mason. Watching the older girls taught me a lot. It taught me how to pay attention to the teacher as well as to my own body. It taught me that it’s possible to combine discipline and spirit. It taught me about dedication.
In this issue, Dance Magazine asks 12 current dance stars to talk about their idols. Like me, they couldn’t always narrow it down to one person. Our idols and influences change as we move through life. While you’re in training, choosing a personal hero may be related to the competitive impulse, but it’s the sweet part of that urge—the part that inspires and fills you with hope. When you eventually become more confident, your need for an idol may diminish, or you may transfer your admiration to a colleague, partner, or choreographer. But that first glimmer of hero-worship at a vulnerable age can fuel your desire to dance.
Talking about idols, Carlos Acosta is back stateside, and ballet fans in New York are all astir over it. His larger-than-life charisma and buoyant technique will brighten the already dazzling array of stars at American Ballet Theatre’s spring season at the Metropolitan Opera House. One of our British correspondents, Margaret Willis, caught up with him backstage at the Royal Opera House as he talked about his meteoric career. 
A mentor figure can be just as important as an idol to keep you going. In Joan Myers Brown, who started Philadanco and has sustained it for 35 years, generations of dancers found a hard-driving, all-caring mentor. Three of the “Danco” women tell DM senior advising editor Brenda Dixon Gottschild how Brown helped them become the dance artists they are today.
Another figure who has been a mentor to younger dancers and teachers is Carolyn Adams, the ebullient former Paul Taylor dancer who now directs an innovative program called Repertory Etudes. In the Teach-Learn Connection, you’ll learn about this project’s unique approach to education while it also honors the field of modern dance by preserving its masterworks.
Wendy Perron
Editor in Chief