Who We Missed: The "Most Influential People in Dance" Chosen By You!

As soon as we started putting together a list of the most influential people in dance today, we knew two things. By the very nature of the topic we were tackling, our final list was going to be:

1. Entirely subjective, and
2. By no means comprehensive.

We wanted to get your input and hear who else you felt should be on the list. So we asked you who we missed, and here's what you told us through email, Facebook and Twitter:


You missed Irina Kolpakova, ballet mistress/coach at American Ballet Theatre for many, many years. Ms Kolpakova has mentored the best of ABT's ballerinas—Susan Jaffe, Alessandra Ferri, Irina Dvorovenko, Gillian Murphy, Isabella Boylston, so many more. Once a stunning dancer with the Kirov, she has brilliantly passed along her unique experience and knowledge to generation after generation of fortunate ABT dancers. She is a treasure. —Susan Peters

Irina Kolpakova. Photo by Renata Pavam

Marcia Dale Weary Dozens of professional dancers dancing right now due to her 60 years of teaching... She is a legend... —Jennifer Clair

I would love to see Christopher Wheeldon on this list. His choreography for An American In Paris is fabulous, and he has been busy creating other works like Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and more. —Hope Daniel

In my opinion I would add Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. She was just working with the Estonian National Ballet, but has choreographed and set her own work with companies like New York City Ballet, English National Ballet, West Australian Ballet, Washington Ballet, Ballet Flanders, Joffrey Ballet, Ballet Hispánico, Ballet Black, Dutch National Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, among so many others, including South American companies. She will be working with San Francisco Ballet in the upcoming season. I could go on and on about various nominations that she has received, and places like Cuba where she's worked with the National Ballet of Cuba as well as Danza Contemporánea, their modern company. Her work goes from beautiful to messy and chaotic; she's amazing. —Ana Gallardo


On behalf of the Children's Museum of Manhattan, please consider including Jody Arnhold. As a dance philanthropist, dance educator and advocate, Jody is in a class of her own. Her establishment of the Dance Education Lab at the 92nd St Y, the Arnhold Graduate Dance Education Program at Hunter and the soon to open Dance Education Graduate Program at Teachers College combined with her production of the documentary PS Dance! establishes her as an essential and key person in dance. —Nina Olson

Damian Woetzel (Aspen Institute Arts Program, Kennedy Center DEMO Series, incoming Juilliard president, etc.), Jody Arnhold (dance education), the dance curator at Museum of Modern Art, Gia Kourlas (her Instagram videos forThe New York Times are hugely popular), Bill T. Jones, Mark MorrisNancy Dalva

I would add Camille A. Brown, Kyle Abraham and Jacob's PillowEric Politzer

Camille A. Brown! —Emma Blue Russo

Camille A. Brown, Darrell Moultrie, Sidra Bell, Kyle Abraham —La Vie

I would add Olivier Wevers of Whim W'Him, but not simply because of his choreography, but starting a company that upholds dancers and brings choreographers from all over to create. "R shin dig" when the dancers choose the choreographers is very special and I hope the direction of companies. —JC Mitchel

Please consider adding Mavis Staines to this list for her leadership in dance training, dance teaching, dance accessibility —@ballet2treasure

Where is Mavis Staines???? Amazing and wonderful director and person!!!! —David Peden

Mavis Staines. Photo via prixdelausanne.org

Missing Crystal Pite@GenVP

Where is the Asian/Asian America representation? Cultural amnesia. Nor Maggie Allesee? You got Glorya Kaufman while Maggie has a national choreographic center with a vital laboratory for dance!!! —Jeff Michael Rebudal

How about some tap! Anthony Morigerato to name just 1! –Billie Giberson Moloney

What? No William Forsythe? He has influenced most of the others, and his influence is still very much today, alive, right now!!!! World class…still. —Jesse Read

Some comments have been edited for clarity.

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Courtesy Harlequin

What Does It Take to Make a Safe Outdoor Stage for Dance?

Warmer weather is just around the corner, and with it comes a light at the end of a hibernation tunnel for many dance organizations: a chance to perform again. While social distancing and mask-wearing remain essential to gathering safely, the great outdoors has become an often-preferred performance venue.

But, of course, nature likes to throw its curveballs. What does it take to successfully pull off an alfresco show?

Marisa Grywalski and Alejandro Diaz in Dwight Rhodens "Ave Maria," part of PBT's Open Air Series last fall.

Kelly Perkovich, Courtesy Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

Keeping dancers safe outside requires the same intentional flooring as you have in the studio—but it also needs to be hearty enough to withstand the weather. With so many factors to consider, two ballet companies consulted with Harlequin Floors to find the perfect floor for their unique circumstances.

Last fall, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre invested in a mobile stage that allowed the dancers to perform live for socially distanced audiences. "But we didn't have an outdoor resilient floor, so we quickly realized that if we had any rain, we were going to be in big trouble—it would have rotted," says artistic director Susan Jaffe.

The company purchased the lightweight, waterproof Harlequin's AeroDeck® sprung floor panels and the heavy-duty Harlequin Cascade™ vinyl, which is manufactured with BioCote® Antimicrobial Protection to help with the prevention of bacteria and mold. After an indoor test run while filming Nutcracker ("It felt exactly like our regular floor," says Jaffe), the company will debut the new setup this May in Pittsburgh's Schenley Park during a two-week series of performances shared with other local arts organizations.

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's Open Air Series last fall. The company plans to roll out their new Harlequin AeroDeck® sprung floor panels and Harlequin Cascade™ vinyl floor for more outdoor performances this spring.

Harris Ferris, Courtesy Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

In addition to the possibility of rain, a range of temperatures also has to be taken into account. When the State Ballet of Rhode Island received a grant from the state to upgrade its 15-year-old stage, executive director Ana Fox chose the Harlequin Cascade vinyl floor in the lighter gray color "so that it would be cooler if it's reflecting sunlight during daytime performances," she says.

However, for the civic ballet company's first performance on its new 24-by-48–foot stage on November 22, heat was less of a concern than the Northeastern cold. Fortunately, Fox says the surface never got icy or too stiff. "It felt warm to the feel," she says. "You could see the dancers didn't hesitate to run or step into arabesque." (The Harlequin Cascade floor is known for providing a good grip.)

"To have a safe floor for dancers not to worry about shin splints or something of that nature, that's everything," she says. "The dancers have to feel secure."

State Ballet of Rhode Island first rolled out their new Harlequin Cascade™ flooring for an outdoor performance last November.

Courtesy of Harlequin

Of course, the elements need to be considered even when dancers aren't actively performing. Although Harlequin's AeroDeck is waterproof, both PBT and SBRI have tarps to cover their stages to keep any water out. SBRI also does damp mopping before performances to get pollen off the surface. Additionally, the company is building a shed to safely store the floor long-term when it's not in use. "Of course, it's heavy, but laying down the floor and putting it away was not an issue at all," says Fox, adding that both were easy to accomplish with a crew of four people.

Since the Harlequin Cascade surface is versatile enough to support a wide range of dance styles—and even opera and theater sets—both PBT and SBRI are partnering with other local arts organizations to put their outdoor stages to use as much as possible. Because audiences are hungry for art right now.

"In September, I made our outdoor performance shorter so we wouldn't have to worry about intermission or bathrooms, but when it was over, they just sat there," says Jaffe, with a laugh. "People were so grateful and so happy to see us perform. We just got an overwhelming response of love and gratitude."

Marisa Grywalski and Alejandro Diaz in Susan Jaffes "Carmina Terra," part of PBT's Open Air Series last fall.

Kelly Perkovich, courtesy Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

February 2021