New Adventures

Photo by Rex Tranter

Here is an article recently published in the Rockford Register Star. The nature of my work has recently involved my family's relocation to this exurb of Chicago. Life has only gotten busier, but we are excited to bring our skills to Illinois. 

Introduction: Brittany Fridenstine-Keefe and her husband Matthew moved from New York City to Rockford in January. Matthew is the new Artistic Director of the Rockford Dance Company and Brittany is a dancer and instructor. She will dance the part of Cinderella later this month. I had the opportunity to see a short preview at RDC’s Hansel & Gretel performance and it was, in a word, breathtaking. After the performance, I met Brittany and introduced her to my 3 year old granddaughter. Brittany knelt down to talk with her for a few moments and made a lasting impression. Two months later my granddaughter randomly tells people she met the Cinderella.
A Ballerina’s Story
When Brittany was young, she had double vision. She was enrolled in dance lessons when she was four years old because she was cross eyed. Brittany’s mother was a therapist and hoped dancing would help her with coordination and improve her vision. Eventually, Brittany had an eye surgery to correct her crossed eyes, but the love of dance was deeply instilled.
Through all of the changes early in her life, Brittany found stability in the training of dance. She was determined to become a ballerina and was accepted into the prestigious professional training program at the Pacific Northwest Ballet School. Brittany finished her training while performing in the company productions of the Nutcracker, Coppelia, and  A Midsummer’s Night Dream. Although she she was determined to dance, she saw the value of a good education and through hard work and vigilance she graduated as valedictorian of her high school class.
After high school, Brittany moved across the country to Pittsburgh, PA in hopes of landing a full time dancing contract, being accepted to the prestigious Pittsburgh Ballet Theater Graduate Program. Eventually she was hired in Pittsburgh, but she kept her gaze on the horizon searching for artistic fulfillment. She went on to continue her career with Ballet Memphis, Minnesota Dance Theatre (Minneapolis, MN), the James Sewell Ballet (Minneapolis, MN), American Repertory Ballet (Princeton, NJ), Terpsicorps Theatre of Dance (Ashevelle, NC), and Morphoses (New York, NY).
She has performed principal roles in all of these companies. Some of Brittany’s highlights include:Emily in a ballet adaptation of the Thorton Wilder play Our TownSugarplum fairy in theNutcracker, as well as works by Balanchine, Twyla Tharp, and many more. Each role provides insight into a new character or place.
Brittany’s dancing career has offered her an opportunity to see the world. She has performed in Iceland, Germany, Italy, and Colombia. Dancing is more than a career, it is a lifestyle. Through sharing her passion with people in many different countries and cultures she has learned the power that dance has to transform the ordinary to the extraordinary.   Dance provides the opportunity to travel the globe both in the physical realm and by using your imagination.
Brittany has dedicated herself to become the eyes for the next generation. She teaches dance and she is certified to teach the GYROTONIC® expansion system to dancers and people who wish to feel like dancers.
Rockford Dance Company’s Cinderella will be performed at the Coronado Theatre, March 24, 7:00 PM and March 25, 3:00 PM.  For ticket information contact:

Morphoses this week at the Joyce

Just a moment of self promotion: Morphoses opened Bacchae last night at the Joyce to a very important and enthusiastic audience. The wonderful dancers presented on this blog and I would love to share this show with as many people as possible. It is important not only as a re-imagining of a classic greek myth, but also as a remaking of a dance company's model. Lourdes Lopez, artistic director, and Luca Veggetti, resident choreographer, have created a spellbinding show! More information below!

Synopsis and performer biographers:

Tickets here.

Yusha Loves Everyone's Individuality.

Yusha Marie-Sorzano is originally from Trinidad, she received her primary instruction from New World School of the Arts, The Miami Conservatory, and The Dance Theater of Harlem. She attended the Ailey/Fordham BFA Program and in her junior year was invited to join Ailey II. She has been a member of Complexions Contemporary Ballet, The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and TU Dance under the direction of Toni Pierce-Sands and Uri Sands. Ms. Sorzano has performed works by Ulysses Dove, Mauro Bigonzetti and Ron K Brown as well as with recording artists Wynton Marsalis, Beyonce Knowles, and Rihanna. She was a guest artist on Dancing with the Stars and has most recently starred as the lead dancer in the independent film "You Me and The Circus". When not performing Ms. Sorzano enjoys teaching both nationally and internationally. 

When did you first begin dancing?
  • o   I started dancing soon after moving to the states from Trinidad at about 9. I am a product of the public school magnet program and took my first ballet class in a tiny studio attached to the cafeteria. It wasn’t very pretty and smelt like tater tots.

What style of dance do you prefer and why?
  • o   I can’t really answer that question. Each style offers something unique. However, I will not deny that at the end of the day there is nothing like an old school jazz combination…..pure satisfaction!

Who have you worked with in the past?
  • o   As far as concert dance I have danced with Ailey II, Complexions, The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and Morphoses.  In addition, I have done some work commercial work with Beyonce, Rihanna, and was a guest artist on Dancing with the Stars. My career has been a pretty mixed bag. It keeps me on my toes!

Who do you aspire to work with in the future?
  • o   Not sure at present. As long as it inspires me I am on board.

Being a freelance dancer, how do you earn your living, ie: do you have side jobs or skills you utilize for income? 
  • o   I teach modern and contemporary classes as often as possible. It’s pretty awesome to be on the other side of the room. I tend to pick up new ways of approaching the art form when I have to use my words to explain it. It’s also really inspiring when someone gets “it” for the first time.

Have you attended college or another kind of training? What/where?
  • o   I am an alum of The Ailey/Fordham BFA Program.

What is the most challenging thing about your career?

  • o   Staying in shape during the in between. 

What do you feel and think when you’re on stage?

  • o   See Billy Elliot’s response in the film, Billy Elliot, when asked what he feels when he dances. I think that sums it up!

How do you keep yourself motivated and maintain creative thinking during your off time? 
  • o   I find that I maintain motivation through unpredictability. I try not to plan too much or get stuck in a routine. Don’t get me wrong; routine is what makes a dancer. I just find it thrilling to not know where I may end up at day’s end.  

What is the most valuable advice you have received from a teacher or mentor?
  • o   Everyone’s body is different. You have to do what works for you. I like to apply this statement to my career as well

What element, theme, or character from the Bacchae do you relate to most? 
  • o   Not sure, though I am continually challenged by Agave.

What is the best/funniest/most challenging experience of the rehearsal process thus far? 
  • o   The best: New faces, sensibilities, and artistry
  • o   The funniest:  That’s a tough one…it changes daily.
  • o   The most challenging: Staying true to the work while still learning the vocabulary. It takes a second to understand how a choreographer works. What their likes and dislikes are. I find it challenging to balance what is asked of me with what I want to say as an artist. We are the vessel for Luca’s language. So it’s important to be clear about what we are trying to convey.

Chris Bordenave 'keeps it fluffy' in preparation for the Bacchae

Christopher Bordenave, a native of Los Angeles, CA, began his early dance training under master teachers Lula Washington, Karen McDonald, and Debbie Allen. He has studied and received training on scholarship with American Ballet Theatre, the Ailey School, Springboard Dans Montreal, and the Dance Theater of Harlem. Christopher has danced and performed works by Nacho Duato, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Zhukov Dance Theater, and Alonzo King LINES Ballet. He also holds a BFA from the Alonzo King LINES Ballet/Dominican University BFA program as a member of the Inaugural Class.

To see Chris live, go to Morphoses performance of the Bacchae at the Joyce- October 24-30th, 2011. Or to see Chris in 2-d go here. 

What style of dance do you prefer and why?
  • I am a child of contemporary dance.  Everything happening tomorrow or the next day is where I find myself.

Who have you worked with in the past?
  • I have worked with Desmond Richardson and Dwight Rhoden, Nacho Duato, Alonzo King, and Yuri Zhukov both as student and professionally.

Who do you aspire to work with in the future?
  • Geniuses…mad scientists…astronomers.

Being a freelance dancer, how do you earn your living, ie: do you have side jobs or skills you utilize for income?
  • I have been blessed to maintain myself solely as a dancer.

Have you attended college or another kind of training? What/where?
  • Upon graduating from high school in 2006, I attended SUNY Purchase for a semester. I transferred to The Ailey School's Fellowship Program for a year while taking online classes through a community college, and then graduated from LINES Ballet/Dominican University in 2010 with a BFA in dance.

What is the most challenging thing about your career?
  • Saying goodbye.

What do you feel and think when you’re on stage?
  • Every emotion all at once continuously until I'm in the dressing room.

What is the most valuable advice you have received from a teacher or mentor?
  • "Stay fluffy."

Every Step You Take- a review

To readers, I am honored to have been found by an editor at Harper Collins to review Jock Soto's new book. You will see my official review below, but the unofficial review is that I would love to meet this man. He presents himself so positively and in service of the art form. It is truly a must read.

Every Step You Take
Jock Soto with Leslie Marshall
New York: Harper Collins, 2011
271 pp, $24.99
ISBN- 978-0-06-173238-6
Review by Brittany Fridenstine-Keefe

Jock Soto's memoir, written with Leslie Marshall, comes out today. Entitled, "Every Step You Take," the book is a charming homage to an inspiring male dancer who dedicated more than two decades dancing at the New York City Ballet.

Jock Soto is part Navajo Indian, and part Puerto Rican. His first encounter to dance was in the form of Indian Hoop dances. After seeing Edward Villella on the Ed Sullivan show, Mr. Soto was determined to learn more about formal western dance genres. His family is an inspiration in the sacrifices and support they offered to enable his study of dance. Mr. Soto’s pursuit of training led him to the School of American Ballet, New York City Ballet's official school, and a separation from his parents at a young age.

Much of the book is Jock's tribute to his deceased mother. Perhaps this is the meaning behind the title. Perhaps he still feels a connection to her as he serves dance. His family was a part of his dance despite distance. Although positive in his reflections, his separation from his roots is an underlying theme. Simultaneously, he acknowledges his need for space and a connection to who he is.

Personally, he recounts growing up in the gay community in the 80s. Mr. Soto reflects on his growth as an individual through each of the relationships; doubly as he witnessed the AIDS epidemic tearing apart his community. Working hard and playing hard, Mr. Soto ran in the circles of many prominent art figures, including a close relationship with Andy Warhol.

Mr. Soto’s career was an embodiment of the American dream; he was quickly and easily promoted to a leading dancer at NYCB. He shares his is appreciation of his many ballerinas including: Lourdes Lopez, Heather Watts, Wendy Whelan, Stephanie Saland, and Miranda Weese. As he recounts these relationships, he shares numerous human moments from behind the scenes. Mr. Soto worked in a magical time when the work of George Balanchine, Lincoln Kirstein, and Jerome Robbins was well established and inspired. The New York dance scene was supportive and at the nexus of the form.

Throughout the book, Jock presents himself humbly. When People magazine voted him one of the "50 Most Beautiful People in the World", he shrugged it off stating his merit was merely to fill a performing arts quota. But he doesn't take himself lightly; he remains focused on his mission as a dancer. Mr. Soto recounts the fleeting moments of a life onstage and the struggle to keep each performance alive. Before each performance, Mr. Soto would say, "it is going to be a different story tonight." Therein lies his dedication to "every little step" he took.

Throughout the book Mr. Soto shares recipes, which correlate to his growth. He keeps his aplomb as he comically recalls using Gorgonzola in a tiramisu, but clearly cooking has become a new creative passion. A vehicle to meld his creativity with entertainment and invest in the people he cares about. He continues to service the field as a teacher at the School of American Ballet.

Jock Soto is an important male figure in the ballet world. As such his memoir, "Every Step You Take," is a refreshing and inspiring account for any artist living their mission. 

Brandon Cournay 'chassé ball changes' from Julliard to become a dancer at Kegwin + Company and Morphoses!

Brandon Cournay is originally from Detroit, Michigan. He has danced with the Mark Morris Dance Group, and Kegwin + Company Extended. Brandon has performed the repertoire of Twyla Tharp, Ohad Naharin, Lar Lubovich, and Nacho Duato. Brandon has also performed in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and has appeared in commercials for Puma and Target. Brandon received his BFA from The Juilliard School. 

You can see him in action at the Joyce Oct 24-30th in Morphoses production of Bacchae. 

Additionally, follow his adventures through his social media links: 

When did you first begin dancing?

  • I have been chassé ball changing since I was ten years old. I signed up to do a musical theatre camp at my school and after that, I was hooked. I became obsessed with my teacher's Capezio jazz sneakers... So, I talked my parents into getting me a pair. You better believe I wore them to school, no shame.

What style of dance do you prefer and why?

  • I prefer anything that is physical, organic, and inspiring.

Who have you worked with in the past?

  • I am having this really cool journey performing in both commercial and concert dance. Professionally, I've worked with the Chase Bock Experience, Mark Morris Dance Group and I'm currently dancing with Keigwin + Company.
  • While in school, I had the honor of working on creations with Matthew Neenan, Nicolo Fonte, and Larry Keigwin. When we would learn pieces for our repertoire concert choreographers such as, Mark Morris, Lar Lubovich, and Ohad Naharin all came in to help set and coach their pieces that we were performing. It was such an amazing experience to learn and work with the creators of such brilliant works.

Who do you aspire to work with in the future?

  • I'm really inspired my choreographers such as Aszure Barton, Crystal Pite, Peter Chu, Hofesh Shechter.
  • I want to work with anyone that is really pushing the envelope in dance. I'm really interested in working with anyone who is creating something inventive, imaginative, and accessible.

Being a freelance dancer, how do you earn your living, ie: do you have side jobs
or skills you utilize for income?

  • Teaching and choreographing are what I consider my ‘side jobs.’ I really enjoy it though, so I rarely consider it work. Which is cool. I also judge for dance competitions on the weekends.

Have you attended college or another kind of training? What/where?

  • I received my BFA from Juilliard in 2009.

What is the most challenging thing about your career?

  • I'd have to say the most challenging aspect of my career is living a balanced lifestyle... in sort of a "work hard/play hard" kind of way. As artists we are constantly on, constantly learning and exploring; sometimes whether we like it or not. Specifically for freelancers self-motivation is vital, our schedule and intentions change daily. It's easy to cram your self- planned day with tons of classes, auditions, and rehearsals to benefit your work and not take anytime for yourself... And vice-versa. It took me a long time to learn that taking a little time for yourself can benefit your work inside the studio tremendously.
  • It took me a long time to learn that guilty feeling of skipping your 10am ballet class to go see the new Twilight movie will soon go away. I stress the time in this scenario because we all know that movie tickets are only $6.00 if you go before noon. Paying for a full priced movie ticket as a freelancer in New York emphasizes the obvious and biggest challenge that plagues us all... Finances.

What do you feel and think when you’re on stage?

  • On stage, I try to sensitize my whole body as much as possible. I like to pretend I'm performing in a theatre that's 360 degrees around and that the audience is seeing me at every possible angle. Even if the choreography has a specific direction, to me there is no front. I want to know and feel what my leg bones, arm muscles, ribs, fingers, eyes...etc. are doing at all times, wherever they are in space. When I bring awareness to my whole body I feel I am able to communicate better as an artist. It's no longer about executing steps physically, but about how I am using my instrument, my entire body to embody and enhance the artistry of the work.

How do you keep yourself motivated and maintain creative thinking during your
off time?

  • I like to see a lot of dance. I think it's important to educate yourself on what you like and what you don't... and more importantly, WHY you like or don't like something.
  • I also listen to music a ton, the little dancer in my head is constantly improving to something up there.

What is the most valuable advice you have received from a teacher or

  • Risa Steinberg, one of my mentors at Juilliard, was talking about evaluating feedback about your work. She said that if someone loves your work... awesome, if someone absolutely hates your work... awesome, but the problem comes when someone leaves the theatre without having an opinion of your work. I thought that was a very interesting statement.

What element, theme, or character from the Bacchae do you relate to most?

  • I relate most to the ever evolving pace and flow of the Bacchae. As well as the inspiration of the work, always looking forward to try something new.

What is the best/funniest/most challenging experience of the rehearsal process
thus far?

  • Best- Creating with such amazingly talented, diverse, and inspiring artists everyday. It’s been an honor to work and learn from such an eclectic group of dancers.
  • Funniest- Karaoke night!
  • Most challenging- Scooting up the stairs. At the Vineyard my thighs were so sore, I could barely walk!

For more information on Morphoses's production of Bacchae go

Morphoses dancer, Gabrielle Lamb, shares her thoughts.

Photo by Ken Kramer
Gabrielle Lamb
Gabrielle Lamb is a native of Savannah, Georgia, and was trained at the Boston Ballet School. She joined Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal in 2000 and was promoted to soloist in 2003. Since 2009, she has been living in New York City and performing with Morphoses and Pontus Lidberg Dance. Her repertoire  includes principal roles in works by George Balanchine, Christopher Wheeldon, Peter Quanz, Jiri Kylian, Mats Ek, Ohad Naharin, and Nacho Duato.  She has also created leading roles in new works by Shen Wei, Stijn Celis, Pontus Lidberg, and Mauro Bigonzetti, among others.  

Ms. Lamb is also a choreographer as well a self-taught video artist and animator.  You can see some of her videos here. 

For more information go to Gabrielle's personal website. 

When did you first begin dancing?

  • I started dancing when I was 4, but hated it because the tights were so annoying
    to put on. So I quit and then restarted the next year.---somehow I got over the
    tights issue.

What style of dance do you prefer and why?

  • I prefer any kind of dance which originates with the intention to communicate and
    connect. The more I learn, the less interested I am in virtuosity for its own sake.
    I want to be able to let go and become someone else onstage, not to spend
    those precious moments worrying about steps.

Who have you worked with in the past?

  • I've been lucky enough to work with a lot of talented choreographers and stagers
    in the past. Some of those are: Natalia Makarova, Sylvie Guillem, Mats Ek,
    Ohad Naharin, Christopher Wheeldon, Shen Wei, Peter Quanz, Stijn Celis,
    Pontus Lidberg….not to mention all the fantastic dancer colleagues who have
    inspired me over the years.

Who do you aspire to work with in the future?

  • Other artists who open new pathways in my mind, no matter what discipline they
    belong to. A dream list might include Crystal Pite, William Kentridge, Robert
    Lepage, Michel Gondry.

Being a freelance dancer, how do you earn your living, ie: do you have side jobs
or skills you utilize for income?

  • I choreograph and teach sometimes. I am also a self-taught filmmaker and
    animator. I worked as the company videographer for Les Grands Ballets
    Canadiens when I was still dancing there, and I've also done work for Morphoses
    and BalletX. I'm preparing for a project with the Dance Theatre of Harlem.

Have you attended college or another kind of training? What/where?

  • No. I've taken a few classes in film, but generally I prefer teaching myself.

What is the most challenging thing about your career?

  • Keeping a sense of the long-term. It's too easy to get crazy about a small injury
    that may be gone in two days---or a temporary lack of work---or the challenges of
    learning new choreography. What seems impossible today often improves
    overnight, so I've had to learn to back off being so rough on myself when I can't
    have what I want straight away.

What do you feel and think when you’re on stage?

  • If I'm in the space I'd like to be in, I feel like time slows down and I can be
    fearless. In the best moments I'm very conscious of the sensations in my body,
    and I imagine being able to communicate those sensations to the audience. It's
    like there's a line of communication that runs underneath the floor of the stage
    and branches out to every seat in the house. If I'm not quite there, then I'm just
    judging and chastising myself and thinking about what just happened or what's
    about to happen 5 seconds from now. And I imagine that on those occasions the
    audience feels somehow less connected as well.

How do you keep yourself motivated and maintain creative thinking during your
off time?

  • I don't have much off-time. I always seem to have some project to work on or
    think about. On the less fun side, there is always email to reply to or scheduling
    to do.

    I do yoga every day, and unless I"m really on vacation, I take ballet class at
    least 5 days a week.

What is the most valuable advice you have received from a teacher or mentor?

  • I was feeling envious of another artist's talent----and despair of ever being able to
    approach her accomplishments. I expressed this to a friend and fellow dancer,
    who wrote to me,"Use her journey as a template for what you want, the beauty of being yourself and expressing it to your full ability"…

    This really made an impression on me---it reminded me to stay on my own path
    and follow it as far as I can, and not to get hung up thinking I'm on the same path
    as any other single person.

What element, theme, or character from the Bacchae do you relate to most?

  • I do an improvisation which is composed of asymmetrical arm movements which
    evolve into symmetry. When I'm asymmetrical, my attention is very fragmented,
    and when I achieve symmetry I become more focused, as though I'm making
    a new connection between already existing ideas in my mind. This for me is an
    interesting physical expression of the way that consciousness and creativity
    work: disconnected streams of thought which with practice can become focused
    and aligned.

What is the best/funniest/most challenging experience of the rehearsal process
thus far?

  • The best part of the experience thus far has been working with a group in which
    every single person has something truly special and different to offer. I've been
    working a long time, and I can say that it's pretty rare to be in a group where I
    can watch and be inspired by everybody. Every day in class and rehearsals I
    see coordination and phrasing that I'd like to steal and try to make work on my
    own body.

For more information on Morphoses's production of Bacchae go to:

Here is a paper I researched and wrote for my senior project with LEAP. The program allows for individualized learning, and I chose to research the potential of psychological factors on incidence and onset of injury. I was also fortunate to intern with the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries during my project. Although it is not of professional standing, I learned so much about planning, implementing, and presenting research; I hope you enjoy the fruits of my labor.

Biopsychosocial factors in injury: From an artist's perspective.

College for working dancers.

Although there are many great university dance programs, dancers often enter their professional careers without a college degree. I am among those whose eagerness to begin dancing forced an absence from academia after high school. 

But a dancer's career is short, and the benefit of a degree can have a profound effect on transitioning into the civilian workforce. Certainly going back to college after a dance career is an option, but now there are also programs which enable dancers to continue working in their professions while going to school.

One great option is a program called LEAP- Liberal Education for Artistic Professionals. It is a program affiliated with  St. Mary's College in California; a small, private liberal arts college. Over 300 dancers have obtained their degrees through the LEAP program in LA, San Francisco, and New York. There are also plans to expand the program to Las Vegas and Chicago.

The LEAP website states, "Founded in 1999, LEAP makes it possible for these working adults to receive a comprehensive liberal arts education and earn a Bachelor of Arts degree from Saint Mary's College in 3 to 4 years of part-time study. Courses are offered at convenient times and locations and the program's flexibility encourages dancers to pursue individual interests and explore different disciplines. Our alumni have continued on to graduate studies and successful new careers in a variety of fields."

For more information, email or call 866-306-0395. Or you can post a comment or email me as I am a proud student in the program and intend to graduate next spring!

Great Event hosted by Dance/NYC and the Taskforce for Dancer Health

Dancers' Bodies. Promoting Wellness.

Richard Gibbs * Jared Angle * Jen Edwards * Melissa Gerson * Jenifer Ringer

Monday, May 16, 2011
6:30pm - 8:00pm

Abrons Arts Center
Henry Street Settlement
Playhouse Theater
466 Grand Street (corner of Pitt Street)
New York, NY 10022


Calling All Stakeholders in Dance!
and the Dance/USA Taskforce on Dancer Health invite you to join us in responding to the Taskforce's recent call to action to achieve the dancer aesthetic in a manner that promotes overall good health and protects the artist and performer. Led by Richard Gibbs, M.D., the town hall provides a forum to discuss case stories from the perspective of the health professional, cultural critic and professional dancer, including New York City Ballet Principal Dancers Jenifer Ringer and Jared Angle. What words work to promote dancer wellness? What positive practices? What can we as a field do for our dancers?

Richard Gibbs, MD. After training with Perry Brunson and Vera Volkova, Richard Gibbs danced several years each with the Hamburg Ballet, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and First Chamber Dance Company. Richard then earned a degree in English from Harvard and an MD from Yale. At the invitation of the San Francisco Ballet in 1991, the Gibbs's created one of the nation's most progressive programs in dancer health in. Richard continues as the company's Supervising Physician. He lectures nationally on dancer health, and he continues to teach ballet having served on the staffs of the San Francisco Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, the Harvard Dance Program and Washington State's Summer Dance Labs. Richard is the founding Chair of Dance/USA's national Taskforce on Dancer Health, and he is the lead author of the Taskforce paper, Guidelines on Nutrition for Professional Companies. In 2006, Richard introduced the idea of a standardized preventive healthcare screen for professional companies. Over 35 companies across the U.S. and Canada are now using the Taskforce Screen and working together to bring better health to those who dance for a living. In 1996, the Gibbs's founded the San Francisco Free Clinic where they provide free medical care for people with no health insurance.

Jared Angle was born in Altoona, Pennsylvania, where he began his dance training at age six with the Allegheny Ballet Academy. In the fall of 1996, he entered the School of American Ballet (SAB), the official school of New York City Ballet, and for the 1997-98 he continued his studies at the School as a recipient of the Rudolf Nureyev Scholarship. Jared became an apprentice with New York City Ballet in March 1998 and joined the Company's corps de ballet in July of the same year. He was promoted to soloist in 2001 and to principal dancer in 2005. Jared is a Princess Grace Dance Fellowship recipient for 2001-2002. In May of 2004, he appeared in the Live From Lincoln Center broadcast of "Lincoln Center Celebrates Balanchine 100," dancing in Liebeslieder Walzer, and his film work includes Columbia Pictures' feature film Center Stage. For Jared's complete bio, including a comprehensive list of featured roles with the Company, click here.

Jennifer Edwards is a writer, culture critic, choreographer, and messaging consultant. She writes for the Arts and Living sections of The Huffington Post on topics including innovation in dance, culture, and wellness. The founder of JenEd Productions (, and co-creator of the Home/Body Project (, Edwards enjoys paring her passions for multi-media content, the written word, science, and technology. She will present her work entitled ‘Building Stages Across Platforms: How New Media is Changing the Landscape of the Performing Arts' this May in Austria for the International University conference, Performing Arts Training Today, and this July in Chicago for the annual Dance / USA conference. Her degrees, certifications, and accolades highlight her varied background and interests. Edwards holds a MFA in dance from NYU Tisch School of the Arts and was a professor of dance and choreography for several years. She holds RYT certification in Yoga philosophy, meditation, and physical practice and has taught yoga-informed stress management for the last 10 years for organizations including the American Heart Association and Columbia University Medical Center. She is a Spoken Word Slam Champion and an Award-winning performance poet and essayist. This September, Edwards will begin her post-graduate work in Organizational Change Management at Milano, The New School for Management and Urban Policy.

Melissa Gerson, a national leader in the eating disorder treatment community, entered the field of mental health after spending many years first, as a professional ballet dancer. Melissa trained at the School of American Ballet and upon graduating from the Professional Children's School in NYC, joined the corps of the Miami City Ballet in Florida. She was soon promoted to Soloist, performing featured roles in over fifty ballets until she retired in her mid-twenties. Ms. Gerson returned to New York City to study psychology at Columbia University where she went on to graduate magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. Melissa earned her master's degree in social work at New York University and completed NYU Psychoanalytic Institute's post-graduate program in psychodynamic psychotherapy. She continued post-graduate training at the Center for the Study of Anorexia and Bulimia and at the William Alanson White Institute of Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis & Psychology. Melissa served as the primary mental health consultant for La Palestra Center for Preventative Medicine, NYC while concurrently building her private practice, with a specialty in eating disorders and body image concerns. In 2008, she founded Columbus Park Collaborative, a private eating disorder treatment center in New York City, where she now serves as Clinical Director. Since 2008, Melissa has developed, staffed, supervised and directed CPC's Day Treatment Program, an intensive treatment program for adolescents and adults with anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorders. She also recently founded and launched Columbus Park Behavioral Health, LCSW, LLC, which is a training initiative for clinicians in the field of eating disorder treatment and a clinic for individuals in need of affordable treatment services. Melissa maintains a private practice, in which she specializes in the treatment of eating disorders, depression, and anxiety, with a sub-specialty in the treatment of performing artists and athletes.

Jenifer Ringer was born in New Bern, North Carolina, and was raised in Summerville, South Carolina, where she began her dance training at age 10 with local teachers. At the age of 12 she entered the Washington School of Ballet, where she studied for two years. After attending a summer session at the School of American Ballet (SAB), the official school of New York City Ballet, Jenifer was invited to enter the Winter Session at the School on a full scholarship. She became an apprentice with New York City Ballet in October 1989 and a member of the Company's corps de ballet in January 1990. Jenifer was promoted to soloist in 1995 and to principal dancer in 2000. She is a guest teacher at SAB and the Artistic Director of New York State's Summer School for the Arts ballet program. In 2002, Jenifer appeared in the Live From Lincoln Center broadcast of "New York City Ballet's Diamond Project: Ten Years of New Choreography," dancing in Mercurial Manoeuvres, and in 2004 she appeared in the Live From Lincoln Center broadcast of "Lincoln Center Celebrates Balanchine 100," dancing in Liebeslieder Walzer. Jenifer received her B.A. in English from Fordham University in December 1997. In July of 2000 she married former NYCB Principal Dancer James Fayette. For Jenifer's complete bio, including a comprehensive list of featured roles with the Company, click here.

Dance/NYC is a satellite of the national arts service organization Dance/USA. Its mission is to sustain and advance the professional dance field in New York City-serving as the voice, guide and infrastructure architect for all local dance artists and managers. The organization achieves this mission through three core program areas: advocacy and research, audience engagement and professional development. As a convener, Dance/NYC aims to connect and educate our constituency-strengthening the collective voice for dance. Visit to learn more about our programs.

Dance/NYC is grateful to the Abrons Arts Center for hosting this event. Dance/NYC Town Hall Meetings are supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council. The program is also supported by the New York State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.


Dance/NYC 63 Greene Street, #605 New York, NY 10012 Phone: 212.966.4452
Fax: 212.966.6424

August 1, 2010


The New York Dance and Performance Awards, aka The Bessies, will take place Monday October 18, 2010 at 8 pm at Symphony Space in New York City. All lovers and supporters of dance are invited! Please come to celebrate dance work being honored and to find out what is happening with New York’s dance awards.

After a hiatus last year, this year’s ceremony will honor the work of the past two years, and launch the format for the new Bessie Awards, which are now under the umbrella of DanceNYC.

Six full productions from 08-09 and six from 09-10 will receive Bessies.

The full creative teams behind each of the shows will be included in the award (choreographers, composers, designers, and performers). In addition, six outstanding performers from the past two years will be honored with Bessie Awards.

There will be speeches and announcements throughout the ceremony by esteemed members of New York’s dance community. They will talk about the historic value of the Bessies, and detail the changes that will be made going forward. Revisions to the Bessies include both new award categories and a new structure for nomination and voting.

The aim is to continue the invaluable mission of the Bessie Awards: to gather the community, to honor outstanding work in the field of dance, and to advocate on a national and international level for the extraordinary range of dance being performed in New York.

Dance/NYC 63 Greene Street, #605 New York, NY 10012 Phone: 212.966.4452
Fax: 212.966.6424

Bessies’ new producers

For many years Dance Theater Workshop, Danspace Project, and The Joyce have produced the Bessie Awards. Starting this year, the Bessie Awards will be under the umbrella of DanceNYC. As a wide-ranging dance service organization, DanceNYC is uniquely positioned to be a neutral, transparent, and inclusive home to the historic awards.

Lucy Sexton is the new independent producer of the Bessie Awards. She is working with DanceNYC and the outgoing producing organizations---Dance Theater Workshop, Danspace Project, and The Joyce---during this exciting and invigorating transition period. Please contact her with any questions about The Bessie Awards:

The Bessie Committee

The committee responsible for choosing award recipients for the 08-09 and 09-10 seasons is: Nolini Barretto, Barbara Bryan, Rashida Bumbray,

Lili Chopra, Nancy Dalva, Joan Finkelstein, Boo Froebel, Stephen Greco, Virginia Johnson, Ishmael Houston-Jones, Brad Learmonth, Stanford Makishi, Brian McCormick, Nicky Paraiso, Brian Rogers, Philip Sandstrom, Yoko Shioya, Sydney Skybetter, Ivan Sygoda, Charmaine Warren, and Susan Yung.

The Bessie Steering Committee

The Steering committee responsible for setting policy and shepherding the awards through this transition period is: Michelle Burkart, Judy Hussie-Taylor, Carla Peterson, Mikki Shepard, Andrea Sholler, Elizabeth Streb, Martin Wechsler, and Reggie Wilson.

All that and a party!


February 5, 2010

7:00 PM – 10:00 PM

WELCOME RECEPTION – Rubin Museum- Y2K Lounge.

150 West 17th Street

New York, NY 10011-5402

Hosted by Dance/NYC’s Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) and Arts & Business

Council’s Emerging Leaders of New York Arts (ELNYA)

February 6, 2010

8:30 AM – 6:00 PM

SYMPOSIUM – 3LD Art & Technology Center (80 Greenwich St. at Rector St.)

Includes General Session, 2 Break Out Sessions, and SmartBar one-on-one

conversations with experts in the field


8:30 – 9:00

Welcome & Registration; SmartBar Sign Ups

9:00 – 10:30

Opening Plenary

“The Changing Face of Dance Audiences”

Donna Walker Kuhne, Walker International Communications

10:45 – 12:15

IP & IT Workshop

“Latest Technologies Impacting the Dance Field”

Sydney Skybetter, Skybetter & Associates

Marc Kirschner, Tendu TV

Fred Benenson,

12:15 – 12:45

Catered in Lunch

12:45 – 2:15

Leadership Workshop

“Leadership, Start with the Why”

Simon Sinek, Start with Why: How great leaders inspire everyone to take action

2:30 – 4:00

Town Hall Meeting

“Concert vs. Commercial Dance: Can’t we just get along?”

Panel: Sharon Gersten Luckman (Alvin Ailey), plus more TBA

4:15 – 5:45

Closing Plenary

“Telling the Story of Dance: Defining the Value of our Art Form”

Russell Willis Taylor, National Arts Strategies

Dorothy Gunther Pugh, Ballet Memphis

5:45 – 6:00

Wrap up & Goodbye


8:30 – 9:00


Fractured Atlas

9:00 – 10:30

Health & Wellness

The Actor’s Fund


10:00 – 5:00

Sign up to meet one-on-one in 30 minute increments with:

Lois Welk (Dance/USA Philadelphia), Peter DiMurio (Dance/MetroDC), Jodi Krizer

Graber (Bravo! Wellness), plus more TBA


FREE - Opening Reception on 2/5/10 *Registration Required

Breakout Sessions on Insurance and Health and Wellness

SmartBar one-on-one conversations with experts from the field


The full General Session Package including the Opening Plenary, IP & IT

Workshop, Leadership Workshop, Town Hall Meeting, & Closing Plenary


1. Each of the 4 sessions offered as part of the General Session will be offered à la

carte. Choose any session or session combination at $20 per session.

Why you should come if you are a….


Attend FREE sessions that focus on various insurance options and dancer health and wellness. Drop in on some

of the general sessions for just $20 a pop including a Town Hall Meeting on concert dance versus commercial

dance and bring awareness by contributing your opinion and giving testimonies on your personal experiences.

Meet with people who are coming to meet with YOU! Attend a FREE opening reception with the entire dance

community of New York including managers, board members, funders, and fellow dancers.


Here is an opportunity for us all to be together under the same roof for important information sharing and

problem-solving conversations working towards general advancement for the entire field. If you attended

Dance/USA’s Winter Forum last year in New York, you know the value of the New York dance community coming

together to share groundbreaking information, reports, and ideas, and the great importance of the

communications and connections that are made when we unite.


The Symposium will alert you to the most pressing issues and initiatives in the field and connect you to the work

going on the ground to see how it effects the organizations you represent and are supporting. The sessions

offered will help you to increase effectiveness and awareness as a leader in the field. Also, it is an opportunity

for you to unite or re-unite with dancers and dance organizations working outside of your organization and help

you to get a sense of where the field at large currently stands.


Begin your professional networking early and obtain a greater sense of the professional dance field of New York.

Meet established dancers, dance managers, and dance community members and learn about the numerous types

of jobs available. Learn new information, get ideas for school project topics, and expand your point of view to

bring back with you to classroom discussions.

Dance/NYC’s Mid-Year Symposium is open to ALL members of the New York dance

community as well as any member of the arts or for-profit business communities who have an interest

or do business in dance. In order to make this most beneficial to those we serve, we extend an

open invitation to everyone.

Please join us!


*You must register even if you plan to only attend FREE events. Thank you!

At the Martha Stewart Show

Live Blogging at the Martha Stewart Show.

So being a freelance dancer now in New York free venues of entertainment are very valuable.

The audience build up is quite an entertaining people study. The "warm-up guy" as he calls himself is very funny - a fairly sharp voice but easily engages with audience members. It is amazing how many people want their moment of fame on TV! The audience was instructed to "dress to impress"...quite a New York feat for 8 am on a weekday morning (well, at least for a dancer who often beats the streets in athletic wear).

Martha apparently blogs everyday. The guests include the "Whatever Girls" one of which is Martha's daughter.

Seeing the show I am even more interested how the production end happens....there are 6 cameras and the show and it is edited nearly live. From the end of the taping there is only about 30 minutes for a final edit. Sheesh!

I can't tell who is using the TelePrompTers from where I am sitting.

Here's the run down of the show....

I was just tossed a freebie- which is definitely exciting.

Now we are learning how to make Pad Thai with Pim Techanuanvivit
1/2 c fish sauce
1/2 c tamarind
chili powder to taste

little vegetable oil

cook shrimp, a pinch of garlic, puffy tofu, a spoon of the sauce- put aside.

add more oil, pickle turnips, a few Tbls sauce- constantly stir.

Reintroduce proteins, sprouts, garlic chives. (where's the egg and peanut?)

Other guests include: Alexis Stewart- Jennifer Complemenhut, Jeff Blumencranz- Andrew Ritchey- Brianna Campbell.

Oooh. I just learned how to cut a cake or pie. Take out the second piece that you cut. Very valuable for a dancer right!?

Next was a brief yarn card seemed like it was cut short somehow....I guess we are behind schedule? It's all fairly well orchestrated though...I suppose there is no room for error on these expensive television slots.

After the taping there was a little personal time for Martha with the audience. She took questions and really engaged. She is actually really funny....she made a great coy (well, overt) remark about her 6 inch heels.

Then there were promos....Martha is quite an experienced performer. She did make a single mistake with the script. Next is an exercise show...maybe I can get on to market Gyrotonic!

All in all, the Martha Stewart show was a blast. And free! Go to her website to try to score some tickets!



Now being a freelance artist I am now addressing my own need for health insurance. It is an incredible cost and sometimes seems a luxury expense to a healthy young individual. But of course it is not a luxury, as a dancer, when ones' body is the primary tool to the art being created.

See the house bill here.

As the healthcare reform bill goes before the senate here are a couple quick thoughts from Dance/USA.

Dance/USA Statement on Health Insurance Reform
Dance/USA supports health insurance reform that ensures the existence of accessible and affordable insurance for all individuals, including those self-employed and in non-employer groups, and organizations involved in the creation and presentation of dance in the United States. In addition, Dance/USA supports health care legislation that includes measures that provide incentives to nonprofit employers that are equivalent to those provided to for-profit employers.

Many individuals in the dance field are young and often self-employed. Many dance organizations operate on small budgets and may be unable to offer health insurance benefits to employees. According to research conducted by the National Endowment for the Arts (2003-2005 American Community Survey):

  • Professional dancers and choreographers are the youngest group of artists with a median age of 26 and 80.8% under the age of 35.
  • Only 25% of professional dancers and choreographers work full-time year-round; 22% are self-employed.
  • In 2005, the median income was $20,000 for professional dancers and choreographers.

And, according to data collected by RAND Compare and the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ National Compensation Survey in 2007:

  • Households with income of less than $25,000 (in 2007 dollars) are nearly three times as likely to be uninsured as are households with incomes of $75,000 or more.
  • By age, the majority of the uninsured are under the age of 35.
  • 24% of part-time private-industry workers have access to medical health care benefits.

In addition, according to studies done by Dance/USA between 2001 and 2006, a majority of dance artists hold an average of four part-time jobs, most of which do not carry health insurance. Some of the most common examples of part-time work include serving as a choreographer, performer, dance instructor, part-time dance administrator (often at different organizations) and/or part-time work outside the dance field.

Dance/USA has sought to share information on the health insurance reform proposals with our membership, and we encourage our members to take action in accordance with their own personal beliefs and values.

Coming up! DanceNYC mid-year symposium

Great things are brewing at Dance/NYC. For those that are not familiar with Dance/ NYC it is a New York based extension of Dance/USA- the industry organization for dance. Basically they are the central "go-to" organization for all the companies, genres and dancers in New York. The resources, advice and programs that they provide are a great undertaking.

Coming up they are hosting a symposium that is meant to serve as a vehicle for the dance community to come together and think about various arts related issues. There is plenty of guided discussion, time to network and meet fellow artists, and also informative break-out sessions.

Below is the flyer with all the information, it promises to be a great event. See you there!

An article by Liz Lerman

A Proposed Job Swap To Save American Capitalism

By Liz Lerman

Do Wall Street executives deserve big bonuses during hard times? Does increased arts funding have a place in an economic stimulus package? I’ll leave it to others to debate these controversies. Meanwhile I’d like to make a modest proposal to solve some of our economic problems: Let’s do a job swap. We’ll put the corporate executives to work as artists while the artists run Wall Street.

Since their first task will be getting economic markets back on solid footing, I’m convinced that artists have the perfect resumès for their new jobs. Here’s why:

1. Artists work ridiculous hours for no pay. And most of the artists I know will keep working until they get the job done right.

2. Artists do not need fancy offices. In fact, they usually work in the worst part of town … until that part of town becomes fancy because the artists are there. Then they have to move because they haven’t paid themselves enough to afford the new rent.

3. Artists throw everything they earn back into the store – which is why they haven’t paid themselves enough. (I will admit that there was one time I didn’t do this. When I was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship back in 2002, I decided to open my first retirement account. I put the money in “very safe” stock market investments. I would have been better off putting it into my next dance.)

4. Artists do not need financial incentives. Artists do the work they do because they love it. Or because they believe in it. Or because they think it is a social necessity for our communities. Or because they know when people make poems or pictures or dances, our best human spirits emerge.

5. Artists do not expect to get anything if they do a bad job. Except maybe a bad review.

6. No artist gets a bonus because there is never enough money at the end of a project.

7. Artists keep very tight budgets. They know how to spend the same penny over and over (not by cooking the books, but by pinching, recycling, borrowing, bartering and plowing their economy-airline frequent-flyer miles back into the next project.)

8. Artists have a rightful reputation for fresh ideas combined with a capacity for self-evaluation that borders on recrimination.

9. Artists play well with others, having evolved highly efficient collaborative techniques in the service of their visions. But they are also very independent, delivering great things even when they work alone.

Meanwhile, in their new capacities as painters, poets, cellists and choreographers, our Wall Street executives might be experiencing a combination of culture shock therapy and ethical boot camp. Artistic practice may force them to discover what they really believe in, because the combination of introspection, discipline and craft that fuels an artist’s work (oh, and it is work) puts people in a very demanding state of truth. Doing what artists do every day, some might find themselves in overcrowded classrooms, excited to share their practices to help young people discover that they actually can learn. Others might be sparked to help communities solve problems by bridging differences through the unique power of their art forms. Those who have been lucky enough to get funded for their work will likely be staying up nights, filling out multiple forms to prove the exact use of the money they have been granted. All will find their moral compasses tested as they balance the demanding loyalties of pursuing personal vision and creating value for an audience.

The job swap I propose might have a final payoff: With artists in charge of Wall Street, you might even see people donate to the cause because artists know how to inspire others to participate together, to work for something that matters, to build on the intangibles of the human experience, to make a difference.

Imagine that kind of Wall Street.

Choreographer Liz Lerman is founding artistic director of Liz Lerman Dance Exchange in Takoma Park, Md., and a 2002 MacArthur Fellow. Over the next two months her company will be appearing in Ann Arbor, San Francisco, Houston, Bloomington, Burlington, Sapporo, Japan and the rainforest of Guyana.

Original CAN/API publication: March 2009

Degree Dance Collective

I had the pleasure of meeting two savvy young New York dancer/administrator/choreographers last week. They have begun an organization called Degree Dance Collective that, according to their vision statement, is an ensemble of dance artists living in New York City united by their baccalaureate degrees in dance and who are artistically invested in creating in new dance works and committed to remaining engaged in the dance field by utilizing the contacts and knowledge garnered through their formal education.

Degree Dance Collective offers biweekly networking events, dance workshops with various teachers and choreographers, as well as group dance seeing events.

Although I don't have a degree in dance, I do see the need for this kind of organization in the New York dance scene. There is so much opportunity here that distilling your path, amidst it all and without distraction, is a constant struggle. Additionally, all the education or performing experience in the world do not prepare one for the challenges of finding a place in a new scene as vast as New York. Kudos to Degree Dance Collective for creating something vibrant, new and effective!

Just Give

I just found a great resource for fundraising and philanthropic efforts. is a website that links to over 1.5 million charities and makes it easy to give by category or location. You can set up single or recurring donations and gift donations. They run these transactions privately and securely; plus they will make tax time easier by setting up a complete list of all your donations.

Additionally non-profits can utilize JustGive to collect donations for their organization. This potentially cuts a large amount of administrative work at a nominal expense. You can add a button to your website for free and it will collect donations, take care of tax information and provide online donor reports.

In the non-profit sector we are so reliant upon donations, I recently wondered about the reciprocity of others' generosity. I am determined that part of my new adventures include more philanthropy- of money and self. Interestingly the JustGive website give the following guideline on giving:

How Much to Give

What's the Average?
The average American gives about 3.1% of their income (before taxes) to charity, an increase from previous years but still well below the traditional 10% "tithe" for charity recommended by religious institutions.

Who Gives the Most?
The people that give the most actually make the least. Households earning under $10,000 a year -- far below the poverty line -- gave 5.2% of their income to charity. That's a larger percentage of their money than any other income group.

What's the Bottom line?
The average household donates $1,620 each year. That's just three dollars a day. Learn more.

You Make the Difference:
Did you know that individuals give 75% of all the money that charities receive? If we all give our fair share, no one will go hungry and no child will grow up in poverty. Sound idealistic? Everything depends on how we spend our money.

Give 5!
While 3.1% is the average, there is a movement to give more. Independent Sector, a coalition of nearly 800 corporations, foundations, and private voluntary organizations, is encouraging us to "Give 5" -- donate 5% of our income and volunteer 5 hours of our time each week.

It All Adds Up:
The amount of money and time that we alone can give may seem small but together as part of a national -- even global -- giving movement we are able to make dramatic changes in the quality of life on this small planet.


The first three letters of these two words are the same, but rarely do these two words share much in common. Fundraising is a necessary part of a dance project or companies existence. Ticket revenue, or earned revenue, rarely comes close to recouping the costs of labor, music rights, costume and marketing a show. Growing the audience base is one component to making a show financially successful, but equally, "making the ask" is part of the equation.

I am currently working with a summer company in the beautiful blue ridge mountains of North Carolina called Terpsicorps. Under the direction of former North Carolina Dance Theater member, Heather Maloy, Terpsicorps really does things a little different....and makes fundraising FUN!

First the company is set up as a summer only experience. It therefore employes dancers who are off contract from other companies around the country. Terpsicorps' budget is smaller than a typical ballet company by the abbreviated season as well. (The dancers are generously hosted by families and dance supporters in the Asheville area.) It serves to provide dance to the mid-sized community of Asheville, NC and also attracts the influx of summer tourists.

Some of the FUN we have had this summer included a pre-release screening of "Every Little Step" a documentary on the making and re-making of A Chorus Line. And next, including commercial to promote it, the BOWL-A-THON!

Yes, dancers and fun lovers bowling together for a cause. And to prove the fun that has already been had and what other fun will come is a commercial:

And if you feel so inclined, you can support this event- even from afar- and pledge here. Check out the slick custom designed website that accepts your pledges online- another wave of the future.

Fun Fundraising really does exist!