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Being a guest Choreographer for the Mata Hari Opera Production in NY, 2017

Mata Hari (World Premiere)

January 5th-7th, and 11th-14th, at 7 PM and January 8th at 2 PM

at HERE Arts Center, New York City

part of Prototype Festival

Composer: Matt Marks
Librettist/Director: Paul Peers

It has been a journey of exploration and self-analysis being the guest choreographer for Mata Hari Opera production, sharing my creative process, inspiration, and artistic quest.

With the magic of giving shape to an idea, an emotion, or an opinion comes great responsibility. Sharing my work with others provides the ultimate fulfillment, allowing me to broaden my search and crystallize my views on whatever moves me deeply.

Like an artisan, with each choreographic section I refine and explore ideas through movement and examine how to communicate.

This is not the first time that I have choreographed an opera. Previously, I created dances for “Il Pagliacci” by the opera director Guy Ariel Kruh (Paris/France) in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1998. Later that same year I choreographed “Cavalleria Rusticana”  by Bahia Blanca Symphonic Orchestra under the direction of Eugenia Gallego in Bahia Blanca, Argentina.

I also choreographed the “Notre dame de Paris” musical in Sardegna, Italy in 2003, as well as being guest choreographer for many theater productions, TV programs, and dance companies in Argentina, Italy and USA.

In this article I would like to talk about the relationship between Dance and Music. As a choreographer and maker of metaphoric images and sensations, I understand the power of dance as a language.

How does one balance the meaning of the lyrics in the song when there is powerful movement and visual effects at the same time? Words are specific, movement is subjective.

As an audience member, there is a choice to make with your attention. Imagine someone massaging you when to are eating a piece of steak while smelling roses at the same time.

I remember my choreography teacher Mary Anthony talking about using music without lyrics, because words are your direct intellectual competitor.

What about when the lyrics are in a foreign language for that audience? Alternately, what is the effect if the lyrics and audience speak the same language?

Like husband and wife, music and dance share the same bed but are two different people choosing to live together.

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So how do I negotiate the lyrics and the music in an opera with the movements that Mata Hari evokes in me?

John Martin, in his book Modern Dance, offers some help in his thoughts about some of the relationships between music and dance.

  • Music interpretation: This is a contradictory formula, how can a dancer interpret Bach or Beethoven? The composer expresses himself sufficiently in musical form, not needing a dancing or gestural commentary. The dancer’s intention is to translate his own emotion, his own personal reaction to a determinate music. Another choice is interpreting the content of the music.
  • Transposition: visualize merely its form, translating sound patterns into movement patterns. The most tragic experience was Rite of Spring by Nijinsky, applying eurhythmics from Jacques Dalcroze.  Nijinsky divided the dancers in groups representing the different instruments of the orchestra and attributed a corresponding movement to each note.
  • Contrapuntal background:  placing movement patterns against music patterns. This is a compromise between interpretative and transposition. The music is the background and the movements are a visual counterpoint.
  • Music should merely mark the tempo and phrasing of what a choreographer wants to do using ready-made music or a specially make composition.
  • Mary Wigman, a German dancer, choreographer and notable as the pioneer of expressionist dance, proposed that the solution to this problem was that the music must be created at the same time as the dance, in a mutual collaboration between choreographer and composer.  To respect the specificity of dance, the music must be born from live movements like the dance.

For the Opera Mata Hari, music composed by Matt Marks and directed by Paul Peers, I decide to explore Contrapuntal background, as well as Music interpretation.

Transmitting my ideas as a guest choreographer working with a company for a short period of time is a delicate process. Precision, clarity of ideas, and effective synthesis help new dancers grasp my work and find the focus of their creative and interpretive search.

Working as a guest choreographer allows me to keep an open mind and heart because every company and group has its own particular architecture, ethos, and psychology. My job is to make the creative process accessible, exciting, and rewarding for both parties.

  • To Purchase tickets for Mata Hari  Opera Production CLICK HERE

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ALDD 10th Anniversary Timeline

10 Years, 300 Performances, 12 Choreographic works in 80 Venues.

Inline image 22016 DanceDrama 10th anniversary! Argentinean tour presenting Unveiling Motion and Emotion and premiering In Pursuit of Happiness with Lauren Ohmer in Buenos Aires and Bahia Blanca. Hosted the 3rd Annual DanceDrama Laboratory Workshop Series; Re-staging the full-length show Pachamama: Mother World; artist in residency at DUO Multicultural Art Center (DMAC); Anabella guest judges for xyz nyc at The Tank; book presentation at Figment Festival.

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2015: Premiered In Pursuit of Happiness, performed by Lauren Ohmer and Anabella Lenzu, directed by Daniel Pettrow and music design by Todd Carroll; residency at DUO Multicultural Art Center (DMAC); Unveiling Motion and Emotion was awarded Honorable Mention Best Art Book/ Spanish or Bilingual from the International Latino Book Awards in San Francisco from the American Library Association Conference; book readings at Bernie Wohl Center and Cornelia Street Caffe;International Artist Seminar at Peridance in NYC; Unveiling Motion and Emotion sold 90+ copies, Anabella was a faculty member at Wagner College and Peridance Center and taught 350+ classes. AL/DD hosted the 2nd Year of DanceDrama Lab Workshop Series.
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2014: Re-staged the full-length show The Grass is Always Greener; Residency at the Cave. Four book presentations at Casita Maria, City Reliquary Museum, Nuyorican Poet Cafe and Bronx Museum. 5th Annual AL/DD Summer Intensive Workshop; 1st DanceDrama Laboratory Workshop Series, a year long Dance Theater Laboratory: focusing in Technique & Repertory, Choreography/Composition and Methodology of Teaching Dance. 20th Anniversary of L’ATELIER Centro Creativo de Danza (dance school Anabella founded in 1994 in Bahia Blanca, Argentina); Fellowship at The Cave

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2013: premiered Pachamama: Mother World as an artist in residency at DUO Multicultural Art Center (DMAC) and Envoy Enterprises: first collaboration with Jennifer Johanos as costume designer and Todd Carroll as a music landscape designer. Anabella published her first book Unveiling Motion and Emotion and offered 8 book presentations in Universities, Museums, Bookstores …even in the Argentinean Consulate; Photographic exhibition Unveiling Motion and Emotion by Todd Carroll at DNA (Dance New Amsterdam);Unveiling Motion and Emotion for sale on Amazon! 20 Shows in 15 Venues; 200 Books sold, Interviews in TV and magazines, including NBC, Telemundo, Dance Information, Dance Magazine among others; Active member of The Dance Critics Association; 4th Annual AL/DD Summer Intensive for the study of technique and repertory.
My daughter Fiamma Lenzu-Carroll was born!
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2012: premiered Sangre and Arena with dancers Lauren Ohmer and Julia Lindpaintner, artist in residency at DUO Multicultural Art Center (DMAC) second collaboration with composer Geoff Gersh & second collaboration with Daniel Pettrow; Participating in The Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP); 3rd Annual AL/DD Summer Intensive at Peridance Center.
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2011: Re-staging of The Grass is always Greener… at Baryshnikov Arts Center in celebration of the 5th Anniversary of ALDD. Anabella celebrates 20 years of teaching dance! 2nd AnabellaLenzu/DanceDrama Summer Intensive Workshop at Peridance;  Choreographed for a work for the 100th Anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911, one of the largest industrial disasters in the history of New York City; 5th Annual Ciao Italy Performing Arts Festival; Anabella creates a YouTube channel with excerpts and examples of dance from pre-history to contemporary dance.
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2010: premiered, The Grass is Always Greener… and first collaboration with actor and director Daniel Pettrow; Anabella’s Blog opens; 1st AnabellaLenzu/DanceDramaSummer Intensive Workshop at CRS Education/Outreach: Extensive teaching workshops in New York, Georgia, Virginia, and North Carolina: building from my relationships with schools, festivals, and communities. Participated in Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) Conferences. Organized and produced 4th Annual Ciao Italy Performing Arts Festival.
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2009: Premiere of The Corral at Merce Cunningham Studios; 3rd Annual Ciao Italy Performing Arts Festival, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn: conceived as a bridge between the historic Italian community in Williamsburg and the more recent community
of artists who are living and/or working in the neighborhood. We present traditional and Italian-inspired work by contemporary performers and scholars.
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2008: Artist in residency at Dance New Group. Premiere of The Garden: first collaboration with composer Geoff Gersh & second collaboration with photographer Todd Carroll; Brooklyn Arts Council Grants to produce 2nd annual Ciao Italy Performing Arts Festival; first annual Embrace Argentina, an intensive Tango travel experience to Argentina for students and professional dancers; Became an official member of the International Dance Council (CID) through Unesco: Selected as a finalist in the New York Urban Artist Initiative; 25 performances, in 8 venues.
My son Lucio Lenzu-Carroll was born!
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2007: Artist in residency at Chashama; NYC premiere of Ilusiones de Percantas ( Women’s Dreams); Independent Community Foundation produces inaugural “Ciao Italy Performing Arts Festival” ; Guest choreographer for Anna Sokolow DanceTheater Company and New Dance Group Company. Produced three “Prelude to Dance” showcases presenting the work of more than 10 emerging choreographers in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 50 performances in NY, VA, NC & GA!
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2006: Inception of the company, artist in residence at DNA (Dance New Amsterdam).  First evening-length work: Amen; First collaboration with photographer Todd Carroll. Produced three “Prelude to Dance” showcases presenting the work of more than 10 emerging choreographers in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 25 performances in 10 venues.

To all the supporters, family and friends for supporting us economically and emotionally. You make this company possible.

Thanks for trusting and for being my partner! Anabella

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Dear Friends and Supporters,

What better an opportunity than the 10th Anniversary celebration to reiterate my eternal thanks to the people that make my dream of having a dance company in New York possible?

Ten years mark an intense period of my life (from my 30s to my 40s). I moved to New York 11 years ago, became a mom, a professor in different universities and fulfilled my dream of creating a dance company in the United States (the first one was in Argentina: L’Atelier Ballet Contemporaneo (1994-2000) the second one in Italy from (2002-2005) and now Anabella Lenzu/DanceDrama, starting in 2006.

 How it all started: 

  • When I moved back to NY in 2005, my base was Peridance Center, directed by Igal Perry (where I was student in 1999-2001) and The Field, an amazing organization that supports artists.
  • Igal Perry opened doors for me and gave me the opportunity to start teaching dance in NY.
  • The Field (through an internship) prepared me to create ALDD, giving my the foundation to understand how a private/non profit dance company functions in NY. In exchange of my intern work, I (and my husband Todd) took  ALL the workshops they offered in Grant Writing, Development, Marketing, Pitching, etc. Under the wing of Tanya Calamoneri, Pele Bauch and James Scruggs. I met Steve Gross, the founder of The Field, in 1999, when I did not even speak English and I participated in his Field Work session at least 10 times. I learned how to give honest and precise feedback to my peers (in English). Eternal thanks to Steve for creating The Field!
  •  I also worked as a stage manager for The Jodi Kaplan Dance Agency during APAP in 2006.

In these 10 years, 40 dancers passed through AL/DD! Thanks for your inspiration, commitment, hard work, dedication, criticism and encouragement:  Mayu Inomata,  Leslie Berman, Emily Quant, Yukiko Sassa, Lauren Ohmer, Julia Lindpaintner, Katie Clancy, Kelley Natella, Debra Zalkind, Val Loukiano, Emily Vescht, Liz Gorgas, Dawn Quigley, Brianna Fails, Raleigh Veach, Cori Marquis, Oshi Wanigasekera, Trina Maninno, Ana Wu, Macy Sullivan, Or Reitman, Paulina Espinosa, Anthony Rosado, Carmen Caceres, Elizabeth Weinstein, Marielis Garcia, Alice Pucheu, Graham Cole, Sydney Ruf Wang, Emily Jeffries, Carolina Rivera Moreno, Mary-Elizabeth Fenn, Hope Parker, Dina Denis, Cesar Brodermann, Erik Zarcone, Justin Coates, Ritzuko Sato, Samuel Humphreys and Guest Dancer: Mariko Endo. Your presence allowed to materialize my dance, making my ideas become real. Thanks for allowing me to experiment and play in my craft of making dances.

I am humbled and honored to have collaborated with: 

  • Todd Carroll who has been with me since the inception of AL/DD. As executive director, photographer, writer, sound designer, graphic designer, advisor an lover!  Your honest and sincere feedback is my daily bread. Your support is my foundation.
  • Daniel Pettrow, our theater guru! I started collaborating with him in 2010, for the desire to train myself and my dance in theater and voice. He began by coaching us at first, and has even directed my last show In Pursuit of Happiness, in 2015. Your sensibility, humor and imagery nurtures my creative work.
  • Geoff Gersh, for composing the music fro The Garden (2008), and Sangre y Arena (2012). Thanks for deepening our emotional environmental atmospheres.
  • Jennifer Johanos, for creating costumes and masks for Pachamama: Mother  World (2013) and advising us always. Thanks for being in almost all our shows!!!! Thanks to DJ too (her husband).
  • Lauren Ohmer: my choreographic assistant, my right hand, who has been dancing for DanceDrama for nine years. So many adventures, so many rehearsals, and shows and explorations. Many tears and a lot of laughter too. Complicated emotions and hard moments. Respect and friendship. Professionalism and nurturing love. Eternal thanks for believing in my vision and for making it real.  Thanks for your creativity and openness.

In 2007, I started an internship program for AL/DD to assist with administrative work, development and promotion. Since then, we trained and guided more than 30 interns: Sarah Isaacman,  Patrick Heffernan, Julia Lindpaintner, Brittany Taylor, Brittany Wilson, Melissa Moore, Shreenath Muthyala, Roberto Ventura, Misaki Kawachi, Courtney Kenyon, Sarah Rose, Caitlin Thurgood, Angela Schopke, Lisa Colpa, Jo Leung, Donna Wilson Marizcal, Yoo Yey, Stephanie Frasca, Grace Rezendes, Emily Hedvall, Daniella Garofalo, Olga Dobrowolska, Sandy Shelton, Dawn Paap, Andrea Šamonilova, Veronica Hackethal, Emily Thornton and Tina Wang.  I’m happy and proud to have become the adoptive mother, sister, auntie, friend to all these young and talented artists and administrators. My home/office was their home, we shared many meals, coffees and yummy sweets, between office work. They saw me in my duties as a mom in between writing a grant proposal, cooking, changing diapers and doing home work with my kids. Without inhibitions, I exposed myself as a working mom/artist. Many of these interns have their own companies now, or work as an artist or administrator for major companies. Many discovered that dance was not for them, many learn to love dance, many are still coming to my kids’ birthday parties! All of them have my love and sincere thanks for helping me to make the company move!

 

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To my Guardian Angels:

  • Michelangelo Alasa, who, since 2012, opened his doors to us repeatedly for creative and magical Artist in Residencies, Works in Progress and performances in DMAC (Duo Multicultural Art Center). And of course for co-producing Sangre y Arena.
  • To Gisela for your wise eye and kind words! For believing in me and my work since the very beginning with David.
  • To the number 1 fan in our Fan Club:  Ben Lee, friend and tanguero (my first Tango student in NYC). Always there to help on set and off. And thanks for driving us to Ikea all these years!
  • To Christina Graybard for your friendship and for editing of my book Unveiling Motion and Emotion. Your generosity astonishes me!
  • To Julia Lindpaintner, dancer, intern, office administrator, website designer, graphic designer and translator of my book Unveiling Motion and Emotion. Your love, creativity, imagination, dedication and friendship are true treasures!
  • To my Friends in our past and present ALDD Advisory Board: Svetlana Mikhalevskaya, Patricia Young, Amy Larimer, Liz Espert, Marji Liebman, Calogero Salvo, Charlotte Patton, Melissa Bernstein, Jennifer Johanos,  Muriel Karlin, Tina Graybard and Nichole Spates.
  • To my local business supporters who have donated food to cultivate our community and feed the starving artists who come to our Fundraisers and Premieres: Sette Panni Bakery, Sal’s Pizzeria, Fortunato Bakery, Cheers Restaurant, C-Town, Dunkin Donuts, To the World Farm and Edible Arrangements.
  • To my artist friends and supporters who have donated for our fundraiser over all these years: HERE Arts Center, Surramics, Alegrias Flamenco Tablao, Annie Rachele Lanzillotto and  KIT Italian Theater.
  • To Stephen Petrilli, who illuminated and designed the lights for our shows!
  • To Kathleen Hines, Kate Ladenheim, Julia Lindpaintner, Misaki Kawachi, Leslie Berman, Katie Clancy, Sarah Rose and Caitlin Thurgood for making the administrative work a pleasure. Thanks for your hard work and for sharing life experiences!

To all the supporters, family and friends for supporting us economically and emotionally. You make this company possible. Thanks for trusting and for being my partner.

To all the people and institutions that believed in us and invited us to be Artist in Residency, where ideas and emotions were challenged, explored and crafted:  DMAC (Duo Multicultural Art Center), Dance New Amsterdam, New Dance Group, Envoy Enterprises, Silo (through The Field/Artward Bound program), Envoy Enterprises, The Cave/ Leimay and Chashama.

We are blessed to have received the support of the following Foundations: MATERIALS FOR THE ARTS, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs/NYC Department of Sanitation/NYC Department of Education, Brooklyn Arts Council, Independent Community Foundation, Edward Foundation Art Fund, Puffin Foundation and Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

Places where we often rehearsed or held our DanceDrama Labs: DMAC, CPR, SounDance, Gibney Dance, Culture Hub and The Cave/Leimay. Thanks for making us feel at home, storing our props, letting us play freely. Thanks for providing a roof over our ideas!

Presenters and festivals that hosted us in NY:  Baryshnikov Arts Center, Dance New Amsterdam, New Dance Group, Sangeeta, IDACO, Sheen Theater, Young Soom Kim, Dixon Place, Figment Festival, The Bernie Wohl Center, Gibney Dance Center, Movement Research at Eden’s Expressway, MacGuinness Senior Center (part of SPARK program), Alchemical Theater Lab, DMAC- Duo Multicultural Arts Center, Arts In Odd Places/AIOP, Peridance Capezio Center, Casita Maria, Nuyorican Poet Café, City Reliquary Museum, Bronx Museum, Dance Parade, The Cave, Center for Performance Research, Brooklyn, Argentinean Consulate in New York,  Movement Research at Judson Church, In Scena Italian Theater Festival, Bluestockings Bookstore, Lehman College, Wagner College, Staten Island, Instituto Cervantes, Hatch Series/The Works Studio, NYC Dance Week, APAP, Alvin Ailey Studios, Roulette, Williamsburg Dance Festival – WAH, Wave Rising Series, Greenwood Cemetery, Little Italy Festival, University Settlement, Green Space, City Center, 100th Anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, DUMBO Festival, 60X60 Dance, Merce Cunningham Studio, 92nd Street Y, Performance Lab/Steps in Broadway, The Rover,  Ciao Italy Performing Arts Festival, Collaborations in Dance Festival, The Tank, Gershwin Hotel, Episcopal Actors Guild, Brecht Forum, Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, Artist for Peace Festival, Crystal Theater ( CT),  JCC, Triskelion Arts, SounDance, the cell Theatre, NYU Casa Zerilli Marimo, 3LD Center for Art & Technology, Kumble Theater/Long Island University, FAR Space, WAXworks, North Hills Country Club, Felician College ( NJ), Williamsburg Performance Alliance, Oasis Festival,  Abrons Arts Center, Joyce Soho, Studio 111 , Cool NY Dance Festival, Galapagos, Taiwan Center, The Bridge for Dance, La Mama, HERE Art Center and Fordham University.

Festivals and Universities that hosted us in USA: Randolph College (VA), Charlotte Dance Festival (NC), Latino Arts Festival (Atlanta), Reinhardt College (Waleska, GA) and Randolph-Macon Woman’s College  (VA).

Venues that hosted us in Argentina: Centro Cultural Borges, Teatro Municipal (B.BCA), Teatro Colon (Punta Alta), Cafe Museo Historico B. Bca, Museo Ing.White, Teatro El Tablao , Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Centro Cultural e Historico Universidad Nacional del Sur and L’Atelier Centro Creativo de Danza.

***Note: Sorry if I forgot someone – Know that you are deeply appreciated!

10 years exploring how memory and spirituality shape identity.  My dance-theater works provoke historical and social consciousness by breaking down the wall between artist and audience.

Thanks again for being my Partner! Anabella

SAVE THE DATE: 10th  ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION of ALDD       
Thursday October 20th at 6 PM

at Argentinean Consulate in NYC, 12 West 56th Street
Performance is free to the public, but space is limited and reservations are necessary
To reserve, please contact info@anabellalenzu.com

Choreography by Anabella Lenzu
Direction: Daniel Pettrow
Dancers: Lauren Ohmer, Dina Denis, Sydney Ruff-Wong, Graham Cole & Anabella Lenzu

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Masters in Dance vs Professional Experience

By Anabella Lenzu

Titles are titles, papers are papers, but if you truly know your field, you know it.

It doesn’t matter what title you have. Artists feel obligated to pay approximately $40,000 dollars to enroll in a master’s in dance degree program, because they need to find stability, a home, time to research,  and learn the tools to be able to explore, develop and create their art and craft. Enrolling in a master’s program is a luxury that not everyone can afford. Do we need to participate in this system to be valued in this society?

To help illuminate (or obscure) the idea, I invited a few important personalities in the dance field to share their opinions. Join us in the debate, and let’s work for a better dance community.

What happens to the formation of dancers around the world? Is college the place where an artist forms and develops? Is it in the small academies, in the open studios, in the small companies or large dance groups? Dancers, teachers and choreographers travel the world to learn, practice and experiment, not always in the universities.

Silvana Cardell from Georgian Court University, New Jersey said: “The role of colleges in the dance field is mainly to give dance a status in the major scheme of things. This is a field where they fit scholarly work, people write, people document work. The art has a certain evolution and the university has been the one that makes archives about this work. I guess the degree is a certification, something you have to have. The Board of Education requests that anybody that teaches in Universities has to have some sort of a degree somewhere, but also you have to have the experience.”

James Martin from NYU/TISCH said: “I think  graduate schools and certainly undergraduate schools can help somebody to focus on who they are, what they can do, what they want  to do, and be able to have a  better idea of where to go and how to approach it.” 

Do you need to go to a university to be an artist?  Can you achieve excellence outside of higher education? Did Baryshnikov, Martha Graham or Doris Humphrey, to name a few, study in a university?

James Martin said: “You can get it as an autodidact. You can be an autodidact but it’s very difficult. It’s not for everyone. Not everybody can do it or not everyone has the discipline to do it. It’s limited. When you’re an autodidact, what could happen is you’re limited to what you know, who you know. When you’re in education with other people and you’re interacting with other people -then your field is so much more open in terms of what you’re going to learn and how you’re going to understand what the breadth of the field is. I’m not saying it’s impossible to be an autodidact, but it’s much more difficult and can certainly present problems.”

Amy Larimer from Lehman College/CUNY said: “The training extends far beyond college. I don’t think that four years is enough on its own but I think it’s definitely an important thing in conjunction with the training that goes on for a longer period of time.”

To have tenure in an academic environment has strong appeal. It means getting insurance, economical stability, getting a sabbatical and getting support. In New York City,  what other option does a teacher have?  At open dance studios in NYC, a teacher gets paid about $5 per student per class! Miserable.

Silvana Cardell said: “I have more problems when the university wants to hire everybody part-time so they don’t pay. That’s my problem. I feel it’s a problem because it’s using people, not that the university wants higher standards for their programs. There’s competition and that’s okay. What I have a problem with is most universities prefer to hire minimum part-time people so they don’t pay benefits – that is a bigger problem. You can fight less about that and believe it or not that is almost unquestionable. You fight about that to your superiors and they don’t do anything about it. If it is something academic, like a person that I really want they may bend the rules hire a guest artist as non-tenure for example. That’s possible at least where I work. It’s very particular with each university and I’m sure other places have different policies.”

How do we connect the real world to the academic world? Through teachers. Dance in universities is supposed to give you a taste of what is in the world by real artists who have experienced the life of a dancer!

Sara Rudner from Sarah Lawrence said: “Just because you’ve been a performer doesn’t mean you are ready to be teacher. I’ve seen that too. I don’t know what “real experience as an artist” means as opposed to unreal experience. It’s a moving target for me.”

Amy Larimer said: “ I need to become a better advocate for dance because there still are a lot of misunderstandings. People really love dance and I think that people want to be supportive.  I just think that there are a lot of misunderstandings about how dance is taught. For example, there was a modern class where we’re going to teach an extra hour and add another credit. Someone asked me, ‘But, is there enough information in Modern to warrant adding that extra hour?‘   …as if we were going to run of material or things to teach. I feel like people are willing to listen but I think that there is a little bit of learning on my part to communicate what I believe is important about dance.  I feel that I have to get a little bit better about translating that into an academic language that people will understand. There are still misconceptions about dance, and it’s deep because there is still this division in a lot of Western thought which is that the university is about the separation of the mind and the body. There’s a practical application of getting the curriculum across but there’s also this broader devaluing of body knowledge in general over mental knowledge. That comes up in general tenure and things like writing instead of practice.”

Tanya Calamoneri, PHD in dance said: “I know people who got jobs coming straight from a MFA program who didn’t have any professional experience. But, most of what I see is that the people who get the jobs have some named company on their resume.  I think that most colleges are still looking for a national reputation or at least a regional one and people don’t have that coming out of school. I don’t think it’s a good model. I don’t think you can teach if you haven’t done it in the real world. I don’t want to learn from someone who hasn’t actually tried to produce work. Teaching is one way to survive as an artist but you have to continue to produce if you’re going to do that. “

Art and artists are not disposable, like most of the things in this country. Art is supposed to work directly with creativity, values and principles of people. In part, teachers are meant to be models for the students, to show what it is to be a citizen that cares about society. Art is supposed to create citizens of the 21st century that value life, who become better people.

Sara Rudner said: “I was just talking to an Australian friend of mine who’s had years and years and years of experience as a professional and as a teacher. Her university in Australia is saying, ‘Sorry, you don’t have a degree, so we’re going to hire someone who’s ten years younger than you because they have a degree.’ This is an abusive system.” “When you enter a master’s program you are more likely to be exposed to different approaches to your field, to dance. You are more likely to be in a situation where you can have conversations. We love what we do, so we do it. Sometimes what we do is understood or accepted in our schools, but not in our art communities. That doesn’t mean we should stop doing it. “

Tanya Calamoneri said: “I think in some ways a MFA program is more valuable than a PHD if you want to make work. I think it should be a combination of MA and MFA or even a MA and PHD together that is focused on creative work. I think a PHD in dance, if you want to make work, is tricky degree to have. If you want to get hired in the PHD world, you have to want to write. I like writing and I am a decent writer but you really have to want to publish at least once a year.”

Amy Larimer: “There is a lot of be learned about our culture by the way that dance is responded to within an academic setting. I think that it teaches us a lot about what we value.”

The business of universities is selling titles. Before, a bachelor’s degree was enough, now a master’s is often not enough as some jobs even require a PHD just to apply. I understand the game, but does this really apply to the career of a dancer or choreographer? Universities are needed for preparation for real life now more than ever.

Sara Rudner said: “They think that if someone has a master’s in dance, they are more hirable and desirable than someone who had a long career. This is problematic.   You can be as committed in a master’s program as in “professional experience”. I’ve also had masters’ students who have just been dumb, passing by the opportunities.  When people come to Sarah Lawrence for their masters and ask me, ‘Am I going to get a job?’  I just say, ‘It’s highly unlikely.’ You should be studying because you want to gain some knowledge. That’s why you should be here and we will pile as much on you as we can. We’re going to be as demanding as we can.  Ultimately, it depends who the individual is, how ego driven they are, what their sense of reality is.”

Silvana Cardell said: “The degree could give you stability for later on in your life, but no one is going to give you a position just with a degree. I hire people and I see a difference between somebody that has had training, the bachelor’s degree in dance, and a master’s degree. Also to navigate the system you don’t have to fight certain things.  They mold into the system easier. I know artists that do this and artists that don’t. Once they get a job at a university and get tenure, some people don’t do anything else, but there are very few people that do this. To get hired without a degree, you have to have significant experience. I wouldn’t be able to fight getting the position full time. The system bends, but it is a problem.  The system fights me.

Tanya Calamoneri said: “John Sexton, NYU president is all about how the university is the home of the artist. It’s the new generation and about how New York should become this new home. I thought, ‘Perfect’. I’m going to get my degree. I’ll eventually teach because I’ve been out in the world working for fifteen plus years and I have something worth giving. Well, I’m sorry but there are people that are not going to get hired and the money isn’t there. They don’t really understand what the dance world needs. I think they just say, ‘Oh, we’ll get a studio and a couple of great professors.’ I also feel like they’re not really teaching people how to be  entrepreneurs or how to survive in the world.” “ I think that universities are businesses and they’ve become more and more so. I think it’s really hard for an artist to find a home in that. It could be. It’s a good place because there are people who are interested in creative inquiry and thinking, trying things, and failing. It’s a different kind of environment than the capitalistic one we live in, but it’s not that different. “

Can we teach talent? What is the role of colleges in the dance field? Is there a place for someone like you or me? If the university does not value my interest, commitment and passion for dance, who does?

Silvana Cardell said: “The universities want to say we have this one, and that one, and that one. That’s how you build universities and whoever is in universities. So, if you have an artist that has a name in the world of dance you might be able to hire them. Maybe they will be hired as a guest artist not as tenure track because the universities have this accreditation that they have.  They have to follow certain rules to keep their accreditation.”

James Martin said: “There are cases where somebody has a great deal of pedigree. Let’s say they’ve been in major companies and they’re coming from that kind of situation or they have developed themselves and developed a name for themselves as an independent choreographer but they don’t necessarily have big degrees. Those people can get hired. Those are the special instances.”

Elizabeth Keen from Juilliard said: “At Juilliard, it is not required that you have a master’s to teach, because they want people who have the knowledge. At Juilliard I would be very surprised if there is anyone on the faculty who hasn’t had professional experience. Now there are people who also have college degrees and who have master’s degrees. That is not why they are being hired. They are being hired because they know their stuff. Larry Rhodes, who runs the department, never had a degree. Ben Harkarvy who ran the department never had a degree.”

If we don’t protect the dance intellectuals, where is the state of dance headed?

Elizabeth Keen said: “I  think that you can hide in an educational system by playing your cards right, and then you pass through with half the knowledge, but I don’t think that’s good. My message is there are many roads to Rome.  Some people can go through a system and be stultified by it and another person can go through the same system and benefit from it. A certificate can mean everything and can mean nothing. If you’re hiring, each case has to be judged separately.  Some places say “You must have this, and you must have that” and there are superb teachers who don’t get hired because the particular school makes no exception for experience in the field, which is a little ridiculous.

James Martin said: “There can be people who have a really special talent and a special connection to the material and have through their own journey and their own path done a great deal of professional work, really know a lot, and have a lot of really valuable information. It’s a shame if those people get passed over but I think often it can happen. We’re trying to get our students to ask themselves the big questions about what it is to be an artist, what it means to be an artist. What is the orthodoxy of the time? How do I challenge that orthodoxy?”

Tanya Calamoneri said: “When people tell me that they want a PHD I go, ‘Why do you want your PHD?’ I think if you want to teach then great. I love to teach and I am having a hard time finding a job so, I don’t think it’s necessarily the route for everybody. I think you have to want to teach and you also have to want to publish or you dance in a major company with a major name. Beyond that, getting a PHD, in my opinion, is like a luxury at this point. I have a lot of debt and I had a great education. I have a lot of great respect for the people that I studied with and they’re not paying my bills. It’s a double edged sword having a PHD.  It’s a lot of work, so I don’t think it’s necessarily the best thing for everybody.”

I want to be part of the system that values sacrifice, work, commitment. That is why I keep going, that is why I write about it.

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About Anabella Lenzu:  Since I moved to the United States in 2005, I have been working consistently as a faculty member (Assistant Professor) and/or a Guest Artist/Teacher in more than 10 colleges and universities, including: NYU Gallatin, Sarah Lawrence College, Lehman College, Wagner College, Randolph College (VA). In fact, I have been a teacher my whole life. I founded and directed a successful dance school in Argentina for 20 years before coming to the US, complemented by teaching professional level classes and workshops in Italy, England and Chile. For more than 12 years I have collaborated as a journalist and critic for different dance and arts magazines in Argentina, Spain and USA, talking about history, critical point of view and the value of ethics, esthetics and try to promote the art in our society. I directed my own art magazine in Argentina for 3 years and I publicized my first book Unveiling Motion and Emotion in March 2013.

Sara Rudner, Director of the Graduate Dance Program

Sara Rudner, a graduate of Barnard College, was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York.  She participated in the development and performance of Twyla Tharp’s modern dance repertory from 1965-1985.  During this time she began to choreograph for a small group of dancers known as the Sara Rudner Performance Ensemble, conceiving and directing a series of dances that broke with conventional conventions, i.e., time frames, spaces and occasions.  Since 1985 Sara has continued to pursue her interest in choreography, improvisation and performing collaborating with like minded colleagues including Dana Reitz, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Russell Dumas, Christopher Janney, Patricia Hoffbauer, Rona Pondick, Robert Feintuch, Jennifer Tipton, Jodi Melnick, Anastasia Lyras among others.  She received a Bessie in 1984 and has been awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the New York State Council on the Arts.  She has been adjunct faculty at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, a teaching fellow at Bennington College while earning her MFA in choreography, guest faculty in composition at The Juilliard School and, at present, she is the Director of Dance at Sarah Lawrence College.  Her work for theater and opera include the production of Caryl Churchill’s “The Skriker” directed by Mark Wing-Davy at the Public Theater in New York City; “The Greeks” directed by Gregory Boyd at the Alley Theater in Houston, Texas, Peter Sellar’s production of Olivier Messiaen’s opera “St. Francois D’Assise” co-produced by the Salzburg Festival and the Paris Opera Bastille; Hector Berlioz’s “Beatrice and Benedict” directed by Tim Albery for the Santa Fe Opera; Richard Strauss’ “The Egyptian Helena” directed Bruce Donnell for the Santa Fe Opera; and Alban Berg’s “Wozzeck” directed by Daniel Slater for the Santa Fe Opera.  Sara appeared in the films “Amadeus,” “Ragtime” and “Hair” directed by Milos Foreman and choreographed by Twyla Tharp.  She also danced in Ms. Tharp’s “The Catherine Wheel.”

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Silvana Cardell,  award winning Argentinean choreographer living and working in Philadelphia, since 2002. Cardell holds a  BFA in dance from University of the Arts and a MFA in choreography from Temple University.  Her repertory has been performed in Argentina, Brasil, Uruguay, Poland and Bulgaria. She has been invited to teach and perform at major dance and theater festivals throughout Latin America, including Festival de Río de Danza Tapias de Janeiro Brasil; Festival al Solsticio de la Primavera en Capilla del Monte, Córdoba; Escuela Municipal Norma Fontenla de San Salvador de Jujuy; Centro Cultural, Salta sponsored by Secretaría de Cultura de La Nación.  She has been the recipient of the prestigious Fundacion Antorchas Prize, Argentina ( 2001). Since 2005 to 2009 Cardell has served on the faculty at University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA, where she has been a guest choreographer (2011 and 2012).  Since 2009 she is the Director of the Dance Department at Georgian Court University, New Jersey.

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JAMES MARTIN is currently Associate Arts Professor of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts Dance Department. Between 2006 and 2012 he held the position of Associate Chair. He has danced with Gus Solomons jr, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane and Company, Donald Byrd/The Group, Jamie Cunningham and Tina Croll, Heidi Latsky, The New York Baroque Dance Company, Connecticut Ballet Company, and is currently performing with Claire Porter. His choreography has also been commissioned by the Connecticut Ballet Company, the Bat Dor Summer Workshop, the American Dance Festival, the Pittsburgh-based company Bodiography, and the dance departments of NYU Tisch School of the Arts, James Madison University, Princeton University, Wesleyan University, Tulane University and most recently by Cello Point. .  His evening length work, in the fall of 2011, The Enchanted Piano had its world premiere in New York City at the Manhattan Movement and Arts Center to great critical acclaim.

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Elizabeth Keen a veteran dancer and choreographer. As a dancer, she appeared with the companies of Paul Taylor and Helen Tamiris/Daniel Nagrin.  She choreographed for her own group, The Elizabeth Keen Dance Company, which toured nationally under the auspices of the Dance Touring and the Artists in the Schools programs as well as many seasons in NYC.  She has also choreographed for opera and theater Credits include: ANIMAL FARM, TEMPEST, WINTER’S TALE (National Theatre, London); LA TRAVIATA, CARMEN (Glyndebourne); CARMEN (The Met); FIERY ANGEL (LA Opera and L’Opera Bastille); GUYS and DOLLS (Goodman Theater) and A COMEDY of ERRORS, (NY Shakespeare Festival). She has taught at Sarah Lawrence College, Princeton University, the Juilliard School as well as for The José Limón Summer Dance Workshop and Perry Mansfield in Steamboat Springs, CO. She is a graduate of Barnard College and the Sarah Lawrence Master’s degree program. Currently she is Adjunct Faculty at Marymount Manhattan College.

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Amy Larimer is a dance/theater artist whose work blends movement, sound and text and draws heavily on improvisation. Her work has been performed at festivals including:  The Crisis Art Festival in Arezzo, Italy, the NYC Improvisation Festival, the Unscripted New York Improvised Theatre Festival, the Seattle Festival of Dance Improvisation, the Comedy in Dance Festival and Dancemopolitan as well as at venues in New York City including: The 92nd Street Y, Dixon Place, DTW, HERE, Joe’s Pub, The PIT, The Tank, Triskelion Arts and The West End Theater.  She was a founding member of Nicholas Leichter Dance and toured internationally with Leichter for 10 years.  She has been lucky enough to work with Clare Byrne, Daniel Clifton, Colin Connor, Aaron Draper, Polina Klimovitskaya, Daniel McCusker, Patricia Nannon, Debra Wanner and the Bronx Repertory Company. She choreographed and performed in Beth Portnoy’s dance film “Gyre-ation” which has been presented at the Loikka Dance Film Festival in Helsinki, Finland; Dance for Reel at Emory University in Atlanta and Videomovimiento in Bogota, Colombia. She received her MFA from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee and recently published an article on improvisation in the Journal of Dance Education. She is an Assistant Professor and the Artistic Director of the Dance Program at Lehman College as well as the creator and director of The Raving Jaynes: Improvised Dance Theater.

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Tanya Calamoneri: Artistic Director/Performer of SOGONO, began choreographing in 1997, via her collective with Allen Willner and Krista DeNio, violent dwarf.  Based in San Francisco from 1996-2003, she was ED of Dancers’ Group, and Co-Director of both 848 Community Space and Temescal Arts Center, and was a founding faculty member of the Experimental Performance Institute at New College of CA.  She attended Moving On Center School for Participatory Arts and Research from 1996-7 (directed by Martha Eddy and Carol Swann), danced for and was company manager to Kim Epifano/Epiphany Productions (98-00), and danced for Jess Curtis (99), among other contemporary choreographers.  She was a member of the Butoh-based company inkBoat from 2000-2003, touring to Germany and within the Western U.S., working as a performer, teacher, and administrative manager with artistic director Shinichi Momo Koga.  Since 2000, she has studied Butoh intensively under Minako Seki, Ko Murobushi, Carlotta Ikeda, Shinichi Koga, Yuko Kaseki, Takuya Muramatsu of Dairakurakan, Su-En, and others. Tanya moved to New York in 2003, completed her MA from NYU’s Gallatin School, for which she wrote a curriculum to teach Butoh dance in American higher education, and helped found the live/work rehearsal and performance space Studio 111 in Brooklyn. From 2005-2007 she was a co-director of the arts service organization, The Field, in New York City.  In 2012 she received her PhD in Dance from Temple University.  She was the Project Manager of DanceMotion USA at BAM. Currently Tanya is VISITING ASSISTANT PROFESSOR at Colgate University.

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