Not Your Average Residency
Three colleges that have formed innovative partnerships with dance artists
Many colleges invite big-name choreographers or companies to spend time on campus, but a dance department residency can sometimes be a superficial affair: A troupe arrives, performs, gives a master class or two and leaves. While these visits are invaluable for the guest artists, who get access to free rehearsal space and performance venues, students can end up with only minimal exposure.
Recently, however, colleges have been reimagining the dance residency, developing partnerships that allow students to interact with residents in meaningful ways. Sometimes these programs even reach beyond the dance department, involving scholars from across the campus. (Georgia Tech doesn’t offer a dance major, but that didn’t stop Arts@Tech from bringing in choreographer Jonah Bokaer.) Here are three residencies that break the traditional mold. —Margaret Fuhrer
Located: Annandale-on-Hudson, NY
Degree offered: BA in dance
Resident artist: Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company (they prefer to call their relationship a “partnership”)
Period of residency: Throughout each academic year since 2009
Nature of the partnership: Current and former artists from the company and New York Live Arts teach 12 full courses a year at Bard, including upper-level technique and composition courses for majors and introductory dance courses for non-majors. BTJ/AZ is also in full residency on campus for a week, typically in May, and the company hosts additional master classes, performances and campus-wide events to supplement its course offerings.
Above: Bill T. Jones at Bard. Photo by Karl Rabe, Courtesy Bard College.
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI
Located: Hattiesburg, MS
Degrees offered: BFA in dance education with K–12 licensure, BFA in dance performance and choreography
Resident artist: ClancyWorks Dance Company
Period of residency: Two sessions in February and April, 2013
Nature of the partnership: Maryland-based ClancyWorks, led by Adrienne Clancy, has its own respected arts in education program, which made it a good fit for USM, one of the few schools to offer a BFA in dance education that includes K–12 licensure. During their USM residency, company members performed, taught master classes and created a new work with dance majors—but they also led several in-depth seminars on educational outreach and professional development for K–12 teachers.
Above: ClancyWorks’ Adrienne Clancy with USM dance majors. Photo by Julie White, Courtesy University of Southern Mississippi.
GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
Located: Atlanta, GA
Degrees offered: N/A (none in dance)
Resident artist: Choreographer Jonah Bokaer
Period of residency: Bokaer was the school’s ARTech resident during the 2010–11 academic year, and is now in the midst of a two-year Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Building Demand for the Arts Program residency.
Nature of the partnership: Bokaer is known for his work in digital media. During his first residency, he developed a smartphone app with the help of Georgia Tech students from several departments, Mass Mobile, which lets audience members help control a show’s lighting design. Over the course of his current residency, he’ll be creating another app allowing people to participate in a shared movement-based experience. Bokaer has also performed on campus and led movement workshops for both Georgia Tech students and members of the surrounding community.
Above: A Jonah Bokaer workshop with Georgia Tech architecture students. Courtesy Georgia Tech
If "Fosse/Verdon" whet your appetite for the impeccable Gwen Verdon, then Merely Marvelous: The Dancing Genius of Gwen Verdon is the three-course meal you've been craving. The new documentary—available now on Amazon for rental or purchase—dives into the life of the Tony-winning performer and silver-screen star lauded for her charismatic dancing.
Though she's perhaps most well-known today as Bob Fosse's wife and muse, that's not even half of her story. For starters, she'd already won four Tonys before they wed, making her far more famous in the public eye than he was at that point in his career. That's just one of many surprising details we learned during last night's U.S. premiere of Merely Marvelous. Believe us: You're gonna love her even more once you get to know her. Here are eight lesser-known tidbits to get you started.
Every dancer knows that how you fuel your body affects how you feel in the studio. Of course, while breakfast is no more magical than any other meal (despite the enduring myth that it's the most important one of the day), showing up to class hangry is a recipe for unproductive studio time.
So what do your favorite dancers eat in the morning to set themselves up for a busy rehearsal or performance day?
When it comes to dance in the U.S., companies in the South often find themselves overlooked—sometimes even by the presenters in their own backyard. That's where South Arts comes in. This year, the regional nonprofit launched Momentum, an initiative that will provide professional development, mentorship, touring grants and residencies to five Southern dance companies.
You ever just wish that Kenneth MacMillan's iconic production of Romeo and Juliet could have a beautiful love child with the 1968 film starring Olivia Hussey? (No, not Baz Luhrmann's version. We are purists here.)
Wish granted: Today, the trailer for a new film called Romeo and Juliet: Beyond Words was released, featuring MacMillan's choreography and with what looks like all the cinematic glamour we could ever dream of: