Linda Tarnay, Beloved NYU Dance Professor, Dies
Former chair of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts dance department Linda Tarnay died on Tuesday, November 6. Her wish was to have her ashes interred in the columbarium at St. Mark's Church-in-the-Bowery—the site of Danspace Project and just a few blocks away from the Tisch dance building.
Before her 35 years of teaching at NYU, Tarnay was a founding member of Dance Theater Workshop. She performed with choreographers like Anna Sokolow, Phyllis Lamhut and Jamie Cunningham. She also started her own company, Linda Tarnay and Dancers, and was an artist-in-residence at The Yard.
In addition to NYU, she also taught at Bennington College and Princeton University, plus 16 summers at American Dance Festival, where she was honored with the Balasaraswati/Joy Ann Dewey Beinecke Endowed Chair for Distinguished Teaching in 2007. Though she suffered from Parkinson's disease, she continued teaching composition classes until retiring in 2010.
As an undergrad at Tisch from 2003-2006, I was assigned Tarnay as my advisor. What I remember most was the way she encouraged each of us to find our own path, and figure out what made us tick. When I told her I hated a William Forsythe concert, she didn't judge me for it or tell me I was wrong; she asked me to describe why—and by listening completely openly to my sophomoric critiques, she helped me realize what I had been missing about the work.
Later, right after I became editor in chief of Dance Magazine, I saw her at the Dance Magazine Awards. She congratulated me on the new position, and I smiled and thanked her, and babbled something about how I was just trying to fill my old boss Wendy Perron's shoes. She said to me, "You fill your own shoes just fine."
Linda, you had a sixth sense about exactly what your students needed, exactly what words you could say to inspire them. You will be dearly missed.
Jennifer Kahn knew the theater industry could do better. As a professional stage manager for 17 years she worked on regional, off-Broadway and Broadway shows. Nearly each time a show closed, something unsettling happened: "I would watch them throw away our shows. All of the beautiful artwork by my friends in the paint shop would go in the trash." The elaborate backdrops? Gone.
But she had an idea: What if the material used in the backdrops and legs could be upcycled into something new? And what if theater lovers could literally keep a piece of a beloved show?
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.
For decades the name Alicia Alonso has been virtually synonymous with Ballet Nacional de Cuba, the company she co-founded in Havana in 1948. Alonso died on October 17, just shy of what would have been her 99th birthday. In recent years, she had stepped back from day-to-day decision-making in the company. As if preparing for the future, in January, the company's leading ballerina, 42-year-old Viengsay Valdés, was named deputy director, a job that seems to encompass most of the responsibilities of a traditional director. Now, presumably, she will step into her new role as director of the company. Her debut as curator of the repertory comes in November, when the troupe will perform three mixed bills selected by her at the Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso. The following has been translated from a conversation conducted in Spanish, Valdés' native tongue.
New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns wasn't sure she was strong enough. A ballerina who has danced many demanding full-length and contemporary roles, she was about to push herself physically more than she thought was possible.
"I said, 'I can't. My body won't,' " she says. "He told me, 'Yes, it will.' "
She wasn't working with a ballet coach, but with personal trainer Joel Prouty, who was asking her to do squats with a heavier barbell than she'd ever used.