Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Tudor and Education: A Perfect Match

January 13, 2010 2 comments

by Sally Brayley Bliss

There is a small village on the east side of the Mississippi River in Illinois named Elsah. Not just beautiful and historical, it is also the home of Principia, a small liberal arts college for Christian Scientists. When I was Director of the Joffrey II Dancers 1969 thru 1986, on one of our many bus tours, we of course played St. Louis and we had many run outs. One time, thanks to our Iowa friend, John Fitzpatrick, we performed at Principia College. I will always remember my experience with the dynamic college in this quaint little town.

My point is that Principia has a dance program; a good one. The Dance Department Chair, Hilary Harper-Wilcoxen, happens to be a huge Tudor fan; not only that, but her mother studied with Tudor in New York many years ago. The ballet world is at once expansive and small. You just never know who you will meet and where.

After she introduced herself a year ago, I arranged for her program to learn and perform Little Improvisations. Amanda McKerrow was the ideal répétiteur to stage it for them. Amanda, Hilary, the entire dance program, production staff, filmmakers and I all pitched in. This residency became a huge event and a learning experience for all of us. Most importantly, the process pushed me into deep thought. Having worked by that time with many university and college dance departments, I realized Tudor’s choreography (not all, but some of his works) are perfect for university dance programs. His choreography is so understood by the students, who not only enjoy but are intellectually stimulated by the works of Tudor. Dance departments all over are growing and rapidly developing their abilities to undertake new challenges. I had the pleasure of working with Juilliard College, Duke, Stanford, and Washington Universities, while the Tudor Trust répétiteurs have worked with so many more. Hence, it led me to decide the time was right to develop a Tudor Syllabus that will enhance and enrich already strong programs like Principia, while opening opportunities for many others. I realize that this has never been done, but the challenge will be an exhilarating one. Tudor was always an educator and this fit is a natural one.

I have delegated a group of university dance faculty, led by répétiteurs James Jordan and Amanda McKerrow to develop a Tudor Syllabus. They will be working closely with Kristine Elliot, Lance Westergard, and the aforementioned Hilary Harper-Wilcoxen. I’m sure there will be more on board as we develop our plan and move ahead. Hilary will guide us as we lay the foundation for all that is necessary to create a university dance syllabus that will be approved by the system.

This is just the beginning. We have a lot of work to do and we need your help. The Trust is very interested in your best ideas for developing something very new and exciting. This is the future, not only for Tudor, but for all of dance.