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Paula Weber, CORPS de Ballet President on Tudor Curriculum

June 14, 2011 Leave a comment

What most intrigues you about Tudor’s teachings?  His incredible insight to human emotion and the way Tudor conveys this in his dances.  He knew how to touch the soul both in tragedy and comedy.  His ballets are timeless.  It is absolutely imperative that these works are never lost!!

Why is an Antony Tudor Dance Studies Curriculum necessary?  I feel that in today’s social media world we all spend a large amount of time in front of a screen – especially our young people who are so “connected.” I find it hard to reach the emotional quality that is so important for dance/dancers. Their eyes seem to have that glazed over “computer screen” look. Perhaps by studying the master of emotional sense through the Tudor Curriculum, students can bring heart back to their work by getting in touch with the most important part of dance – personal connection, personal feeling, the personal communication that happens between a dancer and the audience.

Accreditation ensures that the education provided by institutions of higher learning meets acceptable levels of quality.  How will the conference further that purpose?  The beauty of the CORPS de Ballet International Conference is the interaction of a membership of 90+ dance professors and representatives of approximately 50 colleges, universities and professional schools. It is our time for renewal, recharging, networking, and learning. Those attending the conference will learn directly about the Antony Tudor Dance Studies Curriculum and have the wonderful opportunity to work directly with Sally Brayley Bliss and the committee of scholars and répétiteurs. Even those members who don’t attend the conference will have the opportunity to learn about the curriculum through the CORPS website and the members’ forum. The knowledge we gain by this opportunity will be shared with our students and open doors for the Tudor curriculum group to have residencies at many of our schools. Exposing our dance students to the teachings of Antony Tudor is not only an historical experience, but also a rare dance training experience – Tudor was a master, and as with all great works projects, the intellectual growth and exposure to the artistry of the masters vastly enhances the education of our students. This exposure to such art is the quality of education that is absolutely essential as it fosters discovery, creativity and learning of the highest caliber.

What are the advantages to artist-in-residency programs for students, as opposed to summer institutes to train trainers, for example, or other methods of delivery?  I feel artist-in-residency programs are far more intensive to learning the art of dance.  They are more one-on-one, more in-depth.  The passing of knowledge becomes more multi-dimensional and detailed.  The experience is highly specialized, creating strong foundations of discipline and craft.

What evaluations do you use to assess the success of existing dance curriculums?  I feel assessment is judged by the success of our students upon graduation, and determined by what we bring to students during their four years of study with us – the curriculum (dance training, dance academics, general/specialized academics), performance opportunity, professional performance opportunity while in school, exposure to the masters and great works projects, residency projects and guest artist projects. Our degree is a BFA in performance and choreography.

Paula Weber is Chair of the Dance Division and a professor of dance with UMKC’s Conservatory of Music and Dance. 

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.