Lisa Piorkowski: 1958-2018
As a performer. Lisa appeared on Broadway, in dinner theater, and throughout Europe. She was a triple threat, with a lovely soprano. Fellow dancers from the European company of 42nd Street knew her by her maiden name, Lisa Fairmont. They described her as vivacious, enthusiastic, passionate, and talented. With a dazzling smile, she was as loving as she was pretty. Her speaking voice was very distinctive. Just hearing her in conversation on the other side of stage made you smile and laugh. She was kind and compassionate to the younger dancers, and gave them excellent advice. Jon Engstrom, (who reset Gower Champion's original choreography in 42nd Street) told her during rehearsal, "You remind me of Sophia Loren." She was also a former Miss Colorado and Bronco cheerleader. She will be dearly missed by her friends and family.
You know compelling musicality when you see it. But how do you cultivate it? It's not as elusive as it might seem. Musicality, like any facet of dance, can be developed and honed over time—with dedicated, detailed practice. At its most fundamental, it's "respect for the music, that this is your partner," says Kate Linsley, academy principal of the School of Nashville Ballet.
Notable dancer and beloved teacher, Ross Parkes, 79, passed away on August 5, 2019 in New York City. He was a founding faculty member at Taipei National University of the Arts in Taiwan, where he taught from 1984 to 2006. Lin Hwai-min, artistic director of Cloud Gate Dance Theater, said: "He nurtured two generations of dancers in Taiwan, and his legacy will continue."
About his dancing, Tonia Shimin, professor emerita at UC Santa Barbara and producer of Mary Anthony: A Life in Modern Dance, said this: "He was an exquisite, eloquent dancer who inhabited his roles completely."
Just four years ago, the University of Southern California's Glorya Kaufman School of Dance welcomed its first class of BFA students. The program—which boasts world-class faculty and a revolutionary approach to training focused on collaboration and hybridity—immediately established itself as one of the country's most prestigious and most innovative.
Now, the first graduating class is entering the dance field. Here, six of the 33 graduates share what they're doing post-grad, what made their experience at USC Kaufman so meaningful and how it prepared them for their next steps:
More than once, when I'm sporting my faded, well-loved ballet hoodie, some slight variation of this conversation ensues:
"Is your daughter the dancer?"
"Actually," I say, "I am."
"Wow!" they enthuse. "Who do you dance with? Or have you retired...?"
"I don't dance with a company. I'm not a professional. I just take classes."
Insert mic drop/record scratch/quizzical looks.