Written by Rebecca Stenn and Fran Kirmser
A Life In Dance: A Practical Guide is a new book written by dancer, choreographer, and professor Rebecca Stenn and dancer, producer, and consultant Fran Kirmser. The first half of the book delivers informative and personal narratives from approximately 40 dancers from all generations and genres including Concert Dance, Broadway, Film, and Television.
The second half of the book offers a resource guide for dancers including outlets that can help answer questions and provide direction for:
- student loan debt
- health insurance
- legal advice
- funding resources
- financial planning
- studio space rental needs, and much more.
At Last A Practical Resource Guide for Dancers! The idea for the book came about as Stenn and Kirmser listened to and engaged with groups of graduating college students in the arts, and realized, unlike dance, every other discipline has these kinds of books at their fingertips, currently and continuously. The last resource book of this kind for dance was written two decades ago. Stenn and Kirmser believe it is time for dance to have one too.
A Life In Dance aims to broaden the dancer's knowledge of the possibilities available to them by providing inspiring stories of dancers both known and unknown who have trodden these paths. It translates these stories in a tangible way with a resource guide to create a roadmap for a life in dance.
Chapters in A Life In Dance Include:
Auditioning and Landing a Job
Kamille Upshaw - Hamilton on Broadway, Dancer Lar Lubovich Dance Company
Dancing in a Company
Linda-Denise Fisher-Harrell - Company member Alvin Ailey Dance Theater and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago
Working Project to Project
Sean Curran - Choreographer and Department Chair NYU Tisch School of Dance
Starting a Company
John Heginbotham - Artistic Director
Building a Company Long Term – A New Model – New York Live Arts
Bill T. Jones - Artistic Director
Financial Literacy and Empowerment
David Maurice Sharp - Dancer Lucinda Childs Dance Company, Financial Educator
On Collaborating with Composers
Donna Uchizono - Artistic Director and Gabri Christa - Dancer, Choreographer, Filmmaker
Pop Culture – Television Shows
Miriam and Leonardo from “So You Think You Can Dance”
Diversity in Dance
Johnnie Cruise Mercer - Emerging Dancer/Choreographer
Teaching in the Schools – Kindergarten through 12th Grade
Jody Gottfried Arnhold - Public School Dance Education Advocate, Emmy Nominated P.S. Dance
Mindful Dancing - Feldenkrais and Somatic practices
Miguel Gutierrez - Dancer/Choreographer
Ballet and Life After Ballet
Heather Watts - Principal Dancer New York City Ballet
With Additional Topics and Offerings From:
Ephrat Asherie, Lori Belilove, Pat Birch, Tricia Brouk, Dalia Carella, Darrah Carr, Jessica Chen, Kim Cullen, Carmen de Lavallade, Rebecca Lazier, Gina Gibney, Lisa Giobbi, Neil Greenberg, Francesca Harper, Blakely McGuire, Philip Montana, Ben Munisteri, Wendy Osserman, David Parker, Brittany Schmid, Helen Simoneau, Caleb Teicher, Colleen Thomas, Kate Weare, Nicole Wolcott, Ellis Wood
Curriculum Guide for A Life In Dance
To use the book in a college course such as Senior Seminar, here are three potential options:
(compiled by Jill Homan Randall)
- Require the students to read the entire 200-page book over the course of the semester. Ask students to create an ongoing Word Doc, where they write a 2-4 sentence response after each essay. What resonated for you? What did you learn? What inspired you? If you do this assignment on a Google Doc instead, professors can then "comment" on each student's writing to begin a dialogue.
- Parse out the book over the course of the semester, such as assigning 10 pages of reading a week or maybe 3 essays a week. Each Friday, lead a brief discussion about the readings.
- If requiring the whole book over the course of the semester, require that students do a 10-minute internet search after each reading to follow up about each artist. Who is this artist? Do they have a website? Youtube videos? Can you still see this artist perform or take classes with them? Ask students to document their findings in a Word Doc as well.