Last August, former American Ballet Theatre star Susan Jaffe became dean of the School of Dance at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. “Both ABT and UNCSA will have a deeper relationship, and there will be a crossover between the two schools,” says Jaffe, who danced with ABT for 22 years. “ABT and UNCSA have an exclusive affiliation which will require all of the ballet instructors to take the ABT teacher’s training, Primary through Level 7.” (Jaffe says that some of the UNCSA contemporary faculty have expressed interest in the training as well.) She would also like to host the ABT Studio Company on campus, to work with the ballet and contemporary faculty, and possibly have the contemporary faculty create a new work on the group and UNCSA students.
Jaffe’s wish list as an educator demonstrates ambition and imagination: to continually bring the latest discoveries in the field of dance to the school, whether in training, choreography, cross-training, or performance-based outcomes; to expand the training and rehabilitation facilities; to form more bonds with professional troupes; to involve the local community; to work with museums to link dance and art; and to develop graduate and outreach programs at UNCSA.
Former ABT principal dancer Ethan Stiefel served as the previous dean from 2008–11 before becoming artistic director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet (see “Transitions,” Sept. 2011). The new dean brings her vast experience of performing, coaching, and teaching to UNCSA, where she currently instructs the upper levels. Jaffe, who was a ballet mistress at ABT before accepting the position at UNCSA, says she misses the dancers and administration at ABT. “Still, I am the kind of person who must always be challenged outside my comfort zone, so taking on the dean of dance at UNCSA seemed to be a good fit,” says Jaffe. “The job has tremendous diversity, and so far I have enjoyed every minute of it.” She occasionally returns as a guest teacher for ABT’s company class.
“I miss her every day,” says ABT soloist Isabella Boylston, who was coached by Jaffe in roles like Odette/Odile. “It takes a while to build that kind of coaching relationship. She was always so generous with her time. The way she’s invested in the dancers is unmatched.” No one has yet been named to replace Jaffe as ballet master. —Joseph Carman
Photo of Jaffe by Ramon Estevanell, Courtesy Dance Teacher magazine.
Jennifer Kronenberg and Carlos Guerra, principal dancers with Miami City Ballet, welcomed their first child, Eva Carlynn Guerra, in November. Kronenberg, who graced DM’s cover in October 2009, said, “Nurses were amazed how immediately expressive she was. We weren’t so surprised—she had been preparing her grand diva entrance for quite a while!”
Capezio, Bloch, So Dança, Gaynor Minden.
At the top of the line, dancers have plenty of quality footwear options to choose from, and in most metropolitan areas, stores to go try them on. But for many of North America's most economically disadvantaged dance students, there has often been just one option for purchasing footwear in person: Payless ShoeSource.
When Sonya Tayeh saw Moulin Rouge! for the first time, on opening night at a movie theater in Detroit, she remembers not only being inspired by the story, but noticing the way it was filmed.
"What struck me the most was the pace, and the erratic feeling it had," she says. The camera's quick shifts and angles reminded her of bodies in motion. "I was like, 'What is this movie? This is so insane and marvelous and excessive,' " she says. "And excessive is I think how I approach dance. I enjoy the challenge of swiftness, and the pushing of the body. I love piling on a lot of vocabulary and seeing what comes out."
Back when Robbie Fairchild graced the cover of the May 2018 issue of Dance Magazine, he mentioned an idea for a short dance film he was toying around with. That idea has now come to fruition: In This Life, starring Fairchild and directed by dance filmmaker Bat-Sheva Guez, is being screened at this year's Dance on Camera Festival.
While the film itself covers heavy material—specifically, how we deal with grief and loss—the making of it was anything but: "It was really weird to have so much fun filming a piece about grief!" Fairchild laughs. We caught up with him, Guez and Christopher Wheeldon (one of In This Life's five choreographers) to find out what went into creating the 11-minute short film.
When Hollywood needs to build a fantasy world populated with extraordinary creatures, they call Terry Notary.
The former gymnast and circus performer got his start in film in 2000 when Ron Howard asked him to teach the actors how to move like Whos for How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Notary has since served as a movement choreographer, stunt coordinator and performer via motion capture technology for everything from the Planet of the Apes series to The Hobbit trilogy, Avatar, Avengers: Endgame and this summer's The Lion King.
Since opening the Industry Dance Academy with his wife, Rhonda, and partners Maia and Richard Suckle, Notary also offers movement workshops for actors in Los Angeles.