School Buzz: Students Storm 20th NHSDF

February 28, 2010

Students Storm 20th NHSDF

Miami may be a big destination for college students on spring break, but for one weekend this month, high school dancers will take over the city. More than 1,500 students from roughly 100 high schools across the country will participate in this year’s National High School Dance Festival (NHSDF). The event, designed to give students the chance to showcase their talents and to learn from esteemed choreographers, will be held at Miami’s New World School of the Arts March 18–21.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the NHSDF, which gives 9th- through 12th-graders a chance to sample a range of styles from the festival’s more than 120 classes. Participants will try everything from African to salsa and hip hop, plus a variety of non-dance classes including massage, stretch and nutrition.

Robert Battle is guest-teaching this year and his Battleworks Dance Company will perform at the opening gala. Students will also get to work with other notable teachers such as former Mark Morris Dance Group dancer Teri Weksler.

Beyond the classroom, the festival will feature six concerts, including a competitive student choreography showcase. There will also be scholarship opportunities for juniors and seniors. —Jenny Thompson

Purchase Honors Paul Taylor

This month, Purchase College is presenting Paul Taylor with a Nelson A. Rockefeller Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to the arts (Merce Cunningham received the award in 2007).

The college has selected 79-year-old Taylor based on his lifetime of achievement in dance (his diverse body of work consists of 131 pieces, including the joyful favorite Esplanade), his ongoing relationship with the school and the way he has embraced other art forms. In addition to dance, Taylor also paints and has written an autobiography, Private Domain.

“Paul Taylor represents an ideal role model,” says Carol K. Walker, professor, international coordinator and former dean of the State University of New York’s Purchase School of the Arts. “He worked from the ground up, and through motivation, dedication and an incredible amount of talent, reached the pinnacle.”

Taylor has collaborated with Purchase for more than 20 years. He has staged several of his works on the Purchase Dance Corps and has given the company permission to take his work on tour to Hong Kong, Thailand and France. In 1988, the school awarded him an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree. —Ashley Rivers

Wesleyan Hosts DanceMasters Weekend

Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, is hosting its 11th annual DanceMasters Weekend March 6 and 7. Attendees will have the chance to take a variety of master classes and watch a performance by Taylor 2.

This year’s teachers include Alvin Ailey’s Troy Powell, Merce Cunningham’s Andrea Weber and hip-hop dancer Moncell Durden, among others.

“The mission of DanceMasters is to introduce dance students to contemporary techniques with the hopes that they gain an understanding of the breadth and depth of what is out there in the dance world,” says Pamela Tatge, director of Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts.

The event, which has sold out for the past 10 years, is open to the public. Classes are $19 each ($17 if you take four or more). To register, visit —Colleen Bohen