Editor's Letter: Behind Door #1

Published in the October/November 2010 issue.

Dominican University students in Julia Adam's "Gutenberg's Galaxy"

Photo by Keiko Moriyama

Everyone worries about making the wrong decision. And as dancers reach the end of their training, decisions loom large. Are you ready to audition? Should you try for a slot in a trainee program? Go to college? Getting a degree can mean more choices—and more decisions—down the line. This issue’s higher education guide gives you more than 100 programs to consider, and any one might open a new chapter in your dance life.

 

That’s what happened to the four ballet dancers we interviewed in “College Before Career?” (p. 32). For each, their collegiate years paid off professionally, sometimes in unexpected ways. (See the sidebar at right for choreographers’ perspectives on working with college students.) Of course, some dancers don’t begin college until their dance careers are already underway. Read New York City Ballet principal Abi Stafford’s thoughtful essay, “College Knowledge” (p. 60), about how classes at Fordham University have developed her artistry.

 

It seemed like a risky decision when Walmart heiress Nancy Walton Laurie announced plans to launch a new ballet company in New York City seven years ago. Despite the dance world’s skepticism, within a surprisingly short time Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet became the talk of the town. Our cover story, “Ballet Electrified” (p. 24), explores how the company has evolved into a favorite of both
choreographers and dancers. Sometimes risky decisions pay off. Just ask the dancers at Cedar Lake.

 

Three choreographers on college ballet students:

Last winter, Luca Veggetti created Hibiki-Hana-Ma on SUNY Purchase dancers.
“When you work with dancers not yet exposed to professional ballet life, they are fearless. They don’t have the anxieties that some professionals build up with experience, so we can try the most absurdly demanding things. It’s very refreshing and it pushes the language forward.”

Last fall, Julia Adam set Gutenberg’s Galaxy on students in Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet/Dominican University of California BFA program.
“College dancers are about the exploration, about discussing why, and when and where. That was challenging for me. I usually go in and blast out a piece. I had to expose more of myself and talk about what I was doing. When you go into a ballet company, sadly, the time constraints don’t allow for a lot of experimentation. I thank the students for opening up my eyes and slowing me down, because that’s the fun part of dance making.”

Last winter, Viktor Plotnikov set Earthly Delights on dancers at The Boston Conservatory.
“It was my first time choreographing for college students. They are like professional dancers in that they are adults and understand clearly what they’ve been asked. But sometimes young dancers in ballet companies don’t have enough experience with contemporary movement. With college dancers, there’s basically nothing they won’t try. They deal with modern technique and theater on a regular basis. They have a big advantage in having theater classes, which I think broadens an overall view of movement as a tool of communication in dance.”
—Elizabeth Keniston