A Festival of choreography

May 29, 2018

Dance students concluded the 2017-18 academic year with performances of the Spring Dance Concert and the Senior Choreographic Workshop.

Senior dancers presented an encore performance of their original choreographic works during Festival 2018. The performance concluded with a poignant work choreographed by seniors Ashima Fillbach and Erin Rawlings and featuring each member of the graduating class.

On May 18, the Dance Division presented “Don Quixote with Janis and Joe,” their spring dance performance. The program featured excerpts from the two titular ballets, as well as original choreography by Instructor of Dance Matthew Lindstrom and dance students.

Janis and Joe is a rock ballet featuring the music of Janis Joplin and Joe Cocker, with choreography by Christopher Fleming. Instructor of Dance Justin Koertgen, who previously performed the work with the Dayton Ballet, served as repetiteur for the work. Excerpts included “Feelin’ Alright,” “Mercedes Benz,” “Summertime,” “With A Little Help From My Friends” and “The Letter.”

The spring dance program concluded with selections from Don Quixote, featuring Instructors of Dance Justin Koertgen and Matthew Lindstrom as the title character and his sidekick Sancho Panza, respectively. The Ludwig Minkus score was choreographed by Director of Dance Joseph Morrissey after the original choreography by Marius Petipa. Costumes were rented for the performance from the Louisville Ballet. An encore performance of “Don Quixote with Janis and Joe” was included in Festival 2018.

Cervantes, Cocker and original choreography

April 19, 2018

April has been a relatively quiet month for dancers, with instructional time focused on preparing for the spring dance performance.

Along with several original choreographic works by Interlochen Arts Academy dance faculty, the students are also staging excerpts from Marius Petipa’s ballet adaptation of Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote and Christopher Fleming’s rock ballet, Janis and Joe, which is based on the music of Janis Joplin and Joe Cocker. The dancers will present the performance on May 18 and 19, with an additional performance during Festival 2018 on May 24.

A hip-hop lesson with Liezel Marie de Guzman

  • Liezel Marie de Guzman leads the class in a hip-hop routine.

  • Students rehearse a movement while de Guzman cues up the music.

  • Students rehearse a movement.

March 14, 2018

On March 8 and 9, hip-hop dancer and choreographer Liezel Marie de Guzman visited Interlochen Arts Academy to work with dance students.

De Guzman arrived on March 8, which is celebrated as International Women’s Day. In observance, de Guzman taught the students a hip-hop routine inspired by some of her favorite female dancers and choreographers. The routine included movements from a variety of hip-hop styles, including breaking, locking and popping.

“It is wise to be a versatile dancer,” de Guzman told the students before beginning the session. “If you’re great in ballet, awesome, but keep your mind open to other styles.”

De Guzman spent the next hour and a half teaching the students a routine to Lauren Hill’s “Doo Wop.” De Guzman encouraged the students to add their own personal touch to many of the movements. “Everyone grooves differently, and that’s what’s beautiful about dance,” she said.

De Guzman stopped her lesson at its midpoint to teach the students about the history of hip-hop. “Know your history,” she told the students. “It’s so important, and it will make you appreciate dance so much more.”

As the session concluded, de Guzman offered a word of encouragement to the young dancers. “You guys are going to be the next top-notch dancers and the next top-notch teachers,” she said.

Preparing for “Changing Steps”

  • Dyan Crossman (left) explains a technique to several students.

  • Crossman leads the class in a series of choreographic exercises.

  • A student participates in Crossman's master class.

  • The full class practices a movement.

February 20, 2018

In late January and early February, dance students welcomed a variety of guest artists in preparation for the winter dance performance, “Changing Steps.”

The first guest to arrive was Diana White, who was in residency from Jan. 15-19. White, a repetiteur for the George Balanchine Trust, staged a work of George Balanchine and taught classes in classical ballet technique.

After White departed, Amanda McKerrow and John Gardner, formerly of the American Ballet Theatre, arrived for a four-day residence. From Jan. 22-26, the duo staged a work of Anthony Tudor for the winter performance.

The final repetiteur, Dylan Crossman, arrived on Feb. 12 to begin a three-week residency. While on campus, Crossman, a former dancer with Merce Cunningham Dance Company, taught modern classes and staged one of Cunningham’s works.

The winter dance performance, “Changing Steps,” will be performed March 2-3.

Spreading holiday cheer through dance

  • The life-sized Nutcracker is revealed in front of the Christmas tree while Clara looks on.

  • A view of the pit orchestra during the second act of The Nutcracker.

  • Jonatan Myhre Jorgensen performs as the Nutcracker.

  • Bryan Hutcheson and Ashima Fillbach perform the Cossack Dance from The Nutcracker.

December 13, 2017

In the month of December, dancers focused on practicing for and performing The Nutcracker.

Dance students gave a preview of the ballet on Dec. 1, when they visited the Cowell Family Cancer Center in Traverse City. Center staff, guests and patients gathered in the atrium to watch scenes from the 125-year-old show.

The dancers began their traditional performances in Corson Auditorium on Thursday, Dec. 7, performing three more times over the course of the weekend. The Dance students were joined onstage by select members of the Arts Academy Theatre Company, and danced to live music by the Arts Academy Orchestra and Choir. All four shows boasted sold-out crowds and hundreds of viewers via live stream.

But the dancers weren’t finished after the Interlochen show: this year, the students were invited to present an offsite performance at the Cheboygan Opera House in Cheboygan, Michigan. Their Dec. 16 show is anticipated to be another sold-out performance.

Pablo Francisco Ruvalcaba teaches modern dance

  • Pablo Francisco Ruvalcaba talks with students between exercises.

November 15, 2017

In late October and early November, dance students studied modern dance with Pablo Francisco Ruvalcaba.

Ruvalcaba, who arrived on Oct. 23 and remained on campus through Nov. 3, is a repetiteur for the Jose Limon Dance Foundation. Ruvalcaba has visited several times over the last few years, and is one of the students’ favorite guests.

On the final day of his visit, Ruvalcaba taught one final session, incorporating the techniques he had taught over the past two weeks. After a quick warm-up, Ruvalcaba led the students through a series of choreographic exercises.

Ruvalcaba played a variety of musical selections during the class, ranging from classical to Queen to Disney favorites. From time to time, Ruvalcaba chimed in with suggestions on how to execute the moves more cleanly. “Hold on for a second longer, so that when you fall, you fall fast,” he suggested during one movement.

And during another: “It’s like there’s a fence and you want to look over it,” he said, miming the described action. “Long, not crunched.”

Ruvalcaba closed the session with one final exercise, performed to Queen’s “We Are the Champions.” After one last repetition, in which Ruvalcaba joined, the session concluded. The students cheered enthusiastically for Ruvalcaba, clapping their hands and drumming on the floor. As the students lined up to thank Ruvalcaba, it was clear that their affection was mutual.

“I love you guys,” Ruvalcaba said.

A holiday ballet and a handful of guests

October 18, 2017

The first month of the 2017-18 academic year has been a whirlwind for dance students.

During the first weeks of class, the dancers auditioned for roles in Interlochen’s biennial performance of The Nutcracker. Once the casts were set, the dancers began rehearsing choreography for the show.

Long days of Nutcracker rehearsals have been punctuated by visits from numerous guest artists: Craig Hall, Michael Spencer Phillips, Loni Landon, Erika Randall, Kenya Clay and Tommy Neblett. The guests shared a variety of styles with the students. Hall taught ballet, while Phillips, Randall, Neblett and Landon taught modern styles. Kenya Clay, the choreographer for the new Club Mickey Mouse, taught a session on hip-hop dance.

Guests energize Spring Dance rehearsals

May 9, 2017

Dance students continued their preparations for the Spring Dance Performance, "The Wild West and the High Seas," throughout late April and into the first weeks of May.

Paul Sutherland of the American Ballet Theatre continued his six-week residency, during which he staged Agnes De Mille’s choreography to Copland’s Rodeo.

The dancers also participated in a master class with Eve Lawson on April 10. Lawson is the ballet mistress of the Australian Ballet, and is also an authorized repetiteur of the George Balanchine Trust.

Dance goes to the “Rodeo”

April 17, 2017

During the month of April, dance majors have been hard at work staging several pieces for the Spring Dance Performance.

The highlight of the program is Agnes de Mille’s classic choreography of Aaron Copland’s Rodeo. For the past several weeks, the dancers have worked with American Ballet Theatre legend Paul Sutherland, the only approved stager of the work in the world. Sutherland has staged the work nearly 50 times, but according to Sutherland, this will be only the third time he has staged it with a student group. Sutherland had copious praise for the Interlochen dancers: he complimented them for their fluency in tap, excellent musicality and quick absorption of the choreography.

The 32-minute ballet will open the Spring Dance Performance, which also includes new works by Interlochen Arts Academy instructors Justin Koertgen, Matt Lindstrom and Rachel James, as well as Adolphe Adam’s Le Corsaire.

A swan song for senior dancers

March 13, 2017

Preparations are underway for the Senior Choreographic Workshop, which opens on March 16 in Phoenix Theatre. The workshop gives senior students the opportunity to showcase not only their skills as dancers, but also as budding choreographers.

Students had master classes with Pablo Ruvalcaba of the Jose Limon Dance Company in preparation for the Winter Dance performance earlier in March.

Meanwhile, preparations are beginning for the spring dance performances, which will include world premieres by IAA dance faculty Justin Koertgen, Rachel James and Matthew Lindstrom.

Christopher Williams returns to the studio

February 15, 2017

Dance students are continuing to prepare for the winter dance concert with the aid of two more guest artists.

Choreographer Christopher Williams, who choreographed the work for last spring’s NY Phil Biennial performance, returned to campus to set his new choreography for Debussy’s “Afternoon of a Faun.” Williams will spend the next month on campus working with the students.

The week after Williams arrived, a repetiteur from Jose Limon Dance arrived on campus to set Limon’s A Choreographic Offering with music by Johann Sebastian Bach.

In contrast with December’s performance of The Sleeping Beauty, the winter dance showcase focuses not on classical ballet, but on contemporary dance techniques. “It’s an opportunity for a diversity of students to showcase a broad spectrum of dance,” said Director of Dance Joseph Morrissey.

Dancers bring "The Sleeping Beauty" to cancer patients

Joseph Morrissey
December 14, 2016

The highlight of December in the Dance department was the all-new production of The Sleeping Beauty, which opened on Dec. 8. Between preparations, two college dance department chairs visited the young dancers and gave master classes: Michael Vernon of Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University and Jodie Gates of the University of Southern California.

The dance students also took an afternoon out of their busy schedule to spread holiday cheer to cancer patients at a local hospital. After the Dec. 2 visit, Joseph Morrissey shared the following on the Department of Dance’s Facebook page:

“Today the fairy tale characters from our upcoming production of The Sleeping Beauty paid a visit to the Cowell Family Cancer Center during the Pediatric Infusion Treatment hours. It was a privilege to visit these wonderful people and everyone had a memorable time. With Little Red Riding Hood, The Big Bad Wolf, Puss in Boots, The White Cat, The Frog Prince and his Princess, and the Bluebird and his Enchanted Princess (whom he tries to teach to fly) there were many smiles all around. It was indeed a moving and inspiring visit and we hope to make many more in the future.”

Auditions, master classes and all that jazz

November 16, 2016

The Interlochen Center for the Arts Dance Company hosted College Dance Audition Day, an opportunity for upperclassmen dance students to meet with and audition for representatives from five colleges without missing classes. The five schools in attendance were Mercyhurst University, Alma College, Wayne State University, Western Michigan University and University of the Arts.

There were plenty of opportunities for underclassmen as well. Tauna Hunter, the Chair of Dance at Mercyhurst University taught a masterclass while on campus for College Dance Audition Day. Students also had the opportunity to work with Tommy Neblett, the Associate Director of Dance at the Boston Conservatory.

Students have also had opportunities to expand their stylistic repertoire. Each Friday, Kristina Nichols, the Assistant Vice President of Camp Programs and a former member of the dance faculty, visits the young dancers to teach classes on jazz dancing.

Guest artists help Arts Academy dancers get off on the right foot

October 14, 2016

Dance’s busy first month included four guest artists and preparations for two performances.

Dance has been preparing new works from Justin Koertgen, Matthew Lindstrom and Nicola Conraths-Lange along with rehearsing a selection from the classical ballet La Bayadere to include in the “Collage” program. Preparations have also begun for a brand new staging of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty.

The Department of Dance also welcomed four guest artists. Ballet masters Carlos Lopez and Arturo Fernandez, of the American Ballet Theatre and Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet respectively, taught master classes to the students. Michael Spencer Phillips, an instructor of dance at Interlochen Summer Arts Camp and professional dancer at Pascal Rilout Modern Dance Company, returned to campus for several weeks to create and teach his original choreography for the spring dance concert. The studio also hosted Dr. Ashley Doyle-Lucas, a nutrition expert for pre-professional dancers and athletes, who advised the students on proper nutrition for dancers.

"From Home to Afar"

May 16, 2016

Our spring performance "From Home to Afar" took the stage at Corson Auditorium on May 20-21. The show included renditions of Paul Taylor's Company B, contemporary world premieres from Interlochen faculty members Wendy Masterson, Justin Koertgen and Matthew Lindstrom, and finished with excerpts from the classical ballet La Bayadere. Students and faculty members had a chance to wish farewell to exiting dance instructor Wendy Masterson on Friday night.

Thank you to our dancers, faculty members and staff members for their hard work this year.

Prep for Spring performances continues

April 15, 2016

The Nutcracker might be in the books, but the academic year hasn’t slowed down for our dancers. Preparation continues for the various performances and recitals that fill our calendar through the beginning of June.

Paul Taylor’s world renowned Company B comes Interlochen for the first time ever to help stage a performance for our Spring Dance. Interestingly enough, Interlochen alumna and choreographer Amy Kleinendorst (nee Young) returned to campus last week to work with our dancers on the performance.

Additionally, Interlochen faculty members Wendy Masterson, Justin Koertgen and Matthew Lindstrom continued their rehearsals for their own student performances. The Spring Dance repertoire will include excerpts from the classical ballet La Bayadere. This spectacle is set in India with beautiful costumes and an elephant too! If you’re on campus, please join us on May 20 and 21 for our Spring Dance.

As we speak, the Costume Shop continues work on our textiles and props for our New York Philharmonic Biennial performance. Choreographer Christopher Williams will return to campus in late May to continue working with students on his piece that is set to composer Nico Muly’s So Far, So Good. This dance will be performed live with the Interlochen Orchestra at the David Geffen Hall in New York City on June 5.

Lastly, our 2016-17 season performances, repertoires, and guest artists will be announced in late May. Stay tuned for more!

Spectrum, An Evening of Contemporary Dance

March 14, 2016

On March 4 and 5, Interlochen dancers took the stage at Corson Auditorium for a celebration of contemporary dance covering the "spectrum" of choreographic styles. For the first time ever, Interlochen Center for the Arts performed a piece by renowned choreographer Mark Morris. Morris’s avant garde POLKA was joined by world premieres from Interlochen Arts Academy dance faculty members Justin Koertgen, Nicola Conraths Lange, Matthew Lindstrom and Wendy Masterson. The performance of Detroit Juke was a collaboration between the Interlochen Arts Academy Dance and Comparative Arts departments, and included specific research into the history of Motown music and 20th century Detroit history.

Much of Spectrum, An Evening of Contemporary Dance featured live musical accompaniment from fellow Interlochen students and faculty members. Dance students will take the Corson stage again May 20 and 21 during their Spring dance performance.

Special thanks to Point Park University, Mark Morris Dance Company and the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre.

Contemporary dance performances included:

Choreography: Mark Morris

Choreographer: Wendy Masterson

The Resilient
Choreography: Joshua Manculich

Silent are the birds to her sad laments
Choreography by the cast and Matthew Lindsrom

Detroit Juke
Curated by Nicola Conraths-Lange and Justin Koertgen
Choreographer: Katie Piselli after authentic jazz routines

Guest instructor Megan Williams and winter dance prep

February 15, 2016

Megan Williams, former dancer with the Mark Morris Dance Company and faculty member at SUNY-Purchase, came to Interlochen to lead a modern dance master class. She also worked with students on staging Mark Morris' Polka for the winter dance performance.

Students also auditioned and began preparing for the winter dance performance, titled Spectrum, An Evening of Contemporary Dance.

Choreographer Joshua Manculich

February 11, 2016

Choreographer Joshua Manculich spent the week working with five dancers on a piece he arranged about the resilience and rebounding strength of the human spirit. In that short period of time the students met and exceeded Mr. Manculich's expectations.

The Nutcracker and more in Dance Division

December 14, 2015

In the month running up to The Nutcracker, the Dance Division at Interlochen was very busy! On-stage dress rehearsals, last-minute set adjustments, costume work and more!

We also filmed a quick teaser of the set design, to be revealed during the sold-out performances.

Some additional happenings in Dance:

Special guest Michael Vernon, Chair of the Department of Ballet at the Jacob’s School of Music at Indiana University, came to give a master class to dance students.

Dance department choreographers collaborated with Singer-Songwriter students.

Fall updates from the Dance Department

November 9, 2015

Guests, performances and preparations for Dance students this fall.

  • Claudio Munoz, Ballet Master for Houston Ballet II, gave a dance master class on Oct. 17.
  • Jackie Kopscak, Instructor of Dance at the University of Southern California, gave a master class to dance students on Oct. 30.
  • We also had a special College Dance Audition Day with nine universities from around the country auditioning students for admittance to their various programs on Oct. 24. There was a post-event follow-up as well.
  • Dance Instructor Justin Koretgen choreographed a Motown-themed piece in conjunction with the Interlochen Arts Academy Band's concert on Oct. 23.
  • Preparations continue to be underway for The Nutcracker.
  • Some students will be featured in the Interlochen Arts Academy Band and Choir's annual Sounds of the Season performance on Dec. 17.

Dance Division off to a strong start this fall

  • Academy students in class at the Hildegarde Lewis Dance Building.

October 7, 2015

Exciting things are happening in Interlochen Arts Academy's Dance Division!

Rehearsals are underway for the Dance Division’s production of The Nutcracker—an all-new production featuring new sets and new choreography too! (Read the story here!)

Dance students had a Master Class with the Houston Ballet II’s Ballet Master, Claudio Munoz, on Oct. 13.

Trois Esquisses

Cameron Basden
May 19, 2015

Patrick Frantz from Idyllwild Arts Academy was on campus for four days as an instructor and to stage Trois Esquisses.  This is a continuation of the collaboration with IAA that was started over two years ago.  What lovely neo-classical pas de deux based on classical technique.  Three very different moods, three very different couples and three relationships.  It is nice to see the stories develop – the simplicity that Patrick was so careful about maintaining – and the technical aspects grow.


Justin Koertgen
May 18, 2015

Working on Paquita has been a great tool to remind the dancers of their classical training, partnering, and point work. It has also been good for the dancers to learn to work with style and character.

In partnering classes we have been working on a number of different ballets.  We have studied Esmeralda to help with the Paquita style, the Men's forte steps in Paquita itself in men's class and pas de deux, and I gave the students a preview of Nutcracker by working on the Nutcracker grand pas de deux.

Firebird and Composers in Context

April 10, 2015

The Interlochen Arts Academy spring season's Composers in Context performance marks yet another exciting collaboration between the dance department and orchestra, directed by Carolyn Watson. Igor Stravinsky's ballet Firebird was first choreographed by the Russian dancer Michel Fokine in 1910 and premiered in Paris with the Ballet Russes to great acclaim. The plot, completely rewritten for this occasion, is based on an old Russian fairytale, depicting the tension between humanity and nature, desire and reality. A stellar cast, led by junior Erica Brandell as the Firebird ballerina, includes seniors Oliver Flor Jull, Derek Brockington and Laurel Armes. The set design, with dancers towering high above the orchestra on raised platforms acting as dancing frescos, was conceived by Rory Baker and Kedrik Merwin. Choreography and libretto sprung out of the minds of director of dance Cameron Basden and faculty member Nicola Conraths Lange. Costumes were created by Candice Hughes. 

We’re back!

Cameron Basden
April 1, 2015

A few happenings to note, as we return from Spring Break and prepare for the final push to the end of the year! 

The eighth blackbird collaboration is in full swing with a performance on April 9. Musicians, writers, filmmakers, and dancers are coming together to share the stage with the amazing and edgy professional group that is eighth blackbird! It is a big production with many moving parts. The students have done much of the choreography.

Justin Koertgen has started rehearsals of Paquita excerpts for the spring concert. Paquita is classical technique with a Spanish style and flavor. I always think some of the most pure classical technique can be the most challenging. The students are excited to wear tutus!

Firebird, conceived and staged by Nicola Conraths with assistance from Cameron Basden, is being prepared in another studio. This will be a collaborative performance with the Interlochen orchestra conducted by Carolyn Watson. We are always willing and ready to dance with live music – and the Stravinsky Firebird score cannot be beat. The plot, completely rewritten for this occasion, is based on an old Russian fairytale, depicting the tension between humanity and nature, desire and reality. The dancers will be dancing high above the orchestra on a platform as in moving frescoes. Typical of Interlochen! The performance is on April 24 at 7:30 p.m. in Corson auditorium.

Julie Kleinerman is working with opera students on choreography and movement for their performances on May 22 and 23 of the Opera Workshop. This is a little different because the students are not dancers – and Julie is challenged to think “outside the box” for what will work for them and the performance. Always a new experience!

Other collaborations and preparations are underway with dance students working on Comparative Arts Projects, the Student Showcase, and the Composers Forum.

Next week, Charthel Arthur begins staging Our Town for three weeks and alumnus, Reid Bartolme, starts working on new choreography for two weeks. Patrick Franz from Idyllwild Arts academy arrives on April 27 to stage his choreography. All in preparation for the spring concert!

The end of the year is full with performances, so start thinking and coordinating times and days to have the opportunity to see what these talented and creative students produce! We look forward to seeing you then!

Spring Break and On ...

Cameron Basden
March 25, 2015

Spring break is always a welcome respite before we embark on the final weeks before the end of the year. Over this two week period, dance students do many different things: it is used as a time to investigate summer programs, trips are taken (all over the world), NY classes are always a big choice, starting the college investigation, and for all, spending time with family and friends and taking time to rest and rejuvenate is of the utmost importance.

During this time off, seven dance students went on a cultural and dance trip to Paris with chaperones Justin Koertgen and Cameron Basden. We saw and did so much – it was a full week of museums, food, dance, lots of walking and collegiality. It’s Paris – what can be said?!

Dance Happenings Videos

March 18, 2015

The four videos above are recordings from last week's "Dance Happenings" performance, which featured original choreography from three faculty members and one guest artist. Here is a little more background on each work: 

Justin Koertgen’s ballet started out as a study of classical movement and taking it off balance. The choreography evolved as the dancers made mistakes while interpreting the movement. The title Glückliche unfälle means “happy accidents”; sometimes in life the best things come from little happy accidents. The ballet is just that, a tribute to happy accidents.

Matthew Lindstrom has collaborated with theatre, creative writing, motion picture arts, music and dance to present an event with eighth blackbird that will be seen in its entirety on April 9th in Corson Auditorium. We are presenting a preview of that performance using dancers in a work created with and for the dancers.

Wendy Masterson explores the space where dancers meet life and sound with vocabulary generated by Bartók’s marvelous music.

DanceWorks Chicago and Interlochen have been working for two years to culminate in this project that puts both Interlochen students and DanceWorks Chicago professional artists on the stage together. Rehearsing in Chicago and at Interlochen, Christian Denice has choreographed a passionate piece inspired by his mother’s work with autistic children and the need, desire and sometimes the inability to communicate.

Senior Showcase

Cameron Basden
March 16, 2015

In the dance department, the last week before spring break saw the very first time the senior concert was held in the Phoenix Theater. As a new space for this concert, there were some logistics to be worked out – the lighting to hang, dressing rooms, even entering and exiting the stage. It turned out to be a wonderful space for the performance and an intimate atmosphere to see the creativity and innovative work of the senior dancers. The next performance of the senior showcase will be at 10:00 a.m. in Corson on May 28 during Festival Week.

Dance Happenings

Cameron Basden
March 12, 2015

As the final week before spring break continues, complete with tech rehearsals for the senior concert in Phoenix, it seemed a good time to share a few photos from the wonderful concert that was just completed. I hope you all had a chance to see it, either on the live stream or in person.

Have a wonderful Spring Break. It is 50 degrees outside and sunny, and there is lots of melting going on here in northern Michigan. 

Collaboration with DanceWorks Chicago

Cameron Basden
March 10, 2015

Sometimes it takes a while before things come to culmination. The collaboration between Interlochen and DanceWorks Chicago was a two year process. When Julie Nakagawa, the artistic director of DanceWorks Chicago, came to Interlochen as a guest instructor two years ago, we knew it was the beginning of something – we just weren’t sure what. During the next year, DanceWorks Chicago (DWC) and Interlochen students worked on a distance learning project – DWC in Chicago, Interlochen students at Interlochen using Skype both here and there and the big screen in the Mallory-Towsley Center for Arts Leadership learning, coaching and exploring choreography.

This February has been the culmination of the two years with new choreography by Christian Denice and the presence of DWC on the Interlochen campus. The professional young DanceWorks dancers rehearsed, performed and shared space with the Interlochen students. Christian’s new work, "Spectrum," was inspired by his mother’s work with autistic children. Each rehearsal pushed the boundaries of the students. The students and young professionals were helpful and interactive, each pushing the other, learning from one another and uniting as friends, colleagues and artists. While only a portion of the division was in the piece itself, the entire division was impacted by the drive that continued through the tech rehearsals and each performance. The "Dance Happenings" concert was a true artistic journey in every sense of the word.

Dance Division Weekend in Chicago

Cameron Basden
March 9, 2015

This semester has been a busy one - and the last two weeks prior to spring break have been especially active for the dance division.  Before going into a tech week for our winter concert, "Dance Happenings," the entire dance division and the comparative arts division took a long weekend excursion to Chicago.  It is always nice to experience a big city.  We were going from morning till night.

After making the seven-hour journey by bus, the students checked into the hotel and enjoyed the whirlpool and pool or shopping. We then made our way to the Hubbard Street studios for a master class with Hubbard Street dancer, Jacqueline Burnett followed by a Dance Chance event. This event is sort of an “open mic” for dance and we saw three different pieces of choreography followed by discussion.

The next morning, we had a ballet class at the Chicago Academy for the Arts taught by faculty member, Natalie Rast. There was an audition going on for summer theater and we ran into numerous Interlochen alumni – small world! 

We spent the afternoon soaking up the Art Institute before a little rest at the hotel.  The evening dinner was a group dinner at The Star of Siam. Lots of Thai food and camaraderie!

The culmination of our trip was a performance at the Auditorium Theater by Grupo Corpo, the most renowned dance company in Brazil.  Their energy and exuberance was amazing. We all enjoyed the different style, athleticism and rhythms – and an overall good performance. 

The next day we got back to Interlochen just in time for dinner. The trip had been a good one!

Collaboration with DanceWorks Chicago

Cameron Basden
March 2, 2015

The dancers have been working very diligently on a collaborative project with DanceWorks Chicago to choreography by Christian Denice. Christian spent one week in Chicago, has spent two weeks here at Interlochen, and now the DanceWorks dancers are on campus to put everything together. In preparation for the "uniting" of the dancers, we had a skype session in the Mallory Towsley Center for Adult Leadership with the dancers from Chicago to see and to show what we had been working on for the past two weeks. While there were some issues to overcome, the ability to see and connect with the other dancers was quite special.

Great News from the Youth America Grand Prix in Chicago

Cameron Basden
March 2, 2015

Four Interlochen dancers made the trip to Chicago over the weekend to participate in the Youth America Grand Prix, the largest and most well known dance competition in the U.S. and now the world. After months of preparation, the dancers joined over 200 other dancers from ages 10 to 21 to compete, connect with colleagues and take master classes given by the judges. The Interlochen dancers did very well. Both Austin Meiteen and Derek Brockington took first place in contemporary for junior and senior divisions. The dancers placed in the top 12 for classical. Grace Wiedmeyer and Gabriella Dorman were two of three girls offered scholarships to the summer program at Miami City Ballet. It was an exciting weekend!

Learning about Autism

Wendy Masterson
February 9, 2015

As we prepare for our collaboration with Danceworks, which will focus on autism, the students in Learning, Expression & Artistry had an interactive Skype session with Sylvia Maes to learn more about it. Sylvia is a Movement Therapist and Body-Mind Centering Practitioner in Massachusetts. Her professional practice of thirty-years has encompassed working with children with special needs and their families. During the seminar, Interlochen students asked questions regarding the brain development and autism. Sylvia's responses included hands-on facilitation and descriptions of sensory and nervous system development as well as everyday applications. This session and guest provided a valuable resource for assessing brain development and a variety of approaches for recalibrating or re-awakening a complex body system.

Getting Ready for eighth blackbird

Matthew Lindstrom
January 11, 2015

Intermester has started and the eighth blackbird project is going strong. This past week dancers, actors, creative writers and musicians gathered together examine the incredibly complex and lush repertory. Together, major themes and a general visual aesthetic were identified, and now we anxiously await the Grammy award winning chamber ensemble to join us on Monday. The dancers have a majority of their piece finished and will get to rehearse the piece with the "blackbirds" next week. The material will be used in the winter dance concert as well as the world premiere on April 9th.

Terpsichore in Winter

Wendy Masterson
January 9, 2015

Muscians and dancers are working together during Intermester 2015 in a course, Creating Music for Dancers, led by Steve Larson and Wendy Masterson.  This is an opportunity for the artists to work together in the classroom setting, combining their skills and expertise in support of ballet barre and center work.  The dancers create specific exercises, teach it to the class, and dialogue with the musicians on quality and tempo.  The musicians in turn create or find music to support the physical demands of the combinations. As with Terpsichore, the music and the movement meld together creating an environment of camaraderie and learning.

Sleeping Beauty

Cameron Basden
December 10, 2014

After a lot of work, we are ready to share a stunning performance of "Sleeping Beauty."  If you cannot make it to a live performance in Corson Auditorium (December 11-13) you can still catch the webcast.  Congratulations and thank you to the dancers, musicans, actors designers and production staff who have made this production what it is.  

The Youngest Expert

  • Joey with his mother, Emily Umbarger, and the LEA class.

Wendy Masterson
December 5, 2014

We invited and welcomed an unusual expert to class this week: Joey, the 15-day-old son of Emily Umbarger from the Academic and College Counseling office.  Joey demonstrated his expertise in infant development, which has been an important exploration in our Learning, Expression, and Artistry (LEA) course this term. Observing early sensory integration, the reflexes, the organization of "self," and developmental patterns of movement that underlie an individual's expression and learning patterns was an extraordinary experience for the students. Discovering the "essence" of our humanity is a complex and fascinating process - and we thank Joey for sharing his innate knowledge, and Emily for bringing him in. 


Wendy Masterson
November 19, 2014

Sleeping Beauty is Awake!

Aurora, the new dawn, is descriptive of Interlochen Dance Company's current production of Sleeping Beauty. Our first ballet of this season, Sleeping Beauty is a culimination of dance, theatre, and music students bringing their passion into the rehearsal process. Three months of intense work have generated a beautiful production that will be performed December 10 - 13.

The daughter of the Queen and King, Aurora represents new life for the kingdom. At Aurora's birth celebration the magical fairies bestow the gifts of grace, patience, fortitude, laughter and audicity before Caraboss, the wicked fairy, lays the well-known curse of "pricking her finger with a spindle and dying." Lilac Fairy counters the death charm with one of her own: the gift of life through a sleep charm, adding "there will come one handsome prince to save her." As the ballet unfolds, Caraboss struggles with the Lilac Fairy and Prince Florimund, but in the end, love is true and life is restored to Aurora and her kingdom.

Late Fall Update

Cameron Basden
November 18, 2014

The fall period has gone amazingly fast. The dance division is starting full run-throughs of Sleeping Beauty.  Younger dancers from the community have been coming regularly on Thursdays; the theater student courtiers have learned their roles and characters; and the whole ballet is starting to take shape. Now is the time for fine-tuning, details and bringing the story to life!

This has been a busy fall! Ailey II presented a really challenging and fun master class. It was great to see the very same people who had given the class in performance that evening. They came out after the performance to speak with the dancers and talk. The students enjoyed different aspects of the show and it was interesting to hear their thoughts afterwards.

College Day is also big event for us. Boston Conservatory, New World and George Mason came for the day to watch and meet the juniors and seniors. Kitty Daniels from Cornish gave a master class and Jodie Gates introduced her new dance program at USC with a master class and discussion. It was a real thrill for Jodie to stop by on her way across the country. 

Ballet classes, pointe classes, men’s class, pas de deux and modern classes have been on going. Fridays have been a mixture of composition class, somatics and an on-line dance history course called “Arthenia.” It is always amazing how fast the students become ensconced in the Interlochen world – and their techniques and artistry start growing and evolving!

Senior students continue to prep and rehearse for their senior concert presentation.  Some students are preparing for YAGP in February, and we are all anticipating what the next semester and intermester will bring.  For now, though, Sleeping Beauty is the priority. We are looking forward to a nice rest and a welcome break over Thanksgiving before the final stage rehearsals leading up to the performances.

 We hope to see you at the Sleeping Beauty performances!


  • Dancers preparing for an excerpt of "Sleeping Beauty" in the Interlochen Collage

Cameron Basden
October 10, 2014
A busy week!!

The Interlochen performance of “Collage” during Parent’s Weekend is always an exciting event because it includes all of the art disciplines at Interlochen. There are many parents on campus to visit after the first five weeks of the Academy and students are anxious to show what they have been working on in class and rehearsals.

It’s always amazing how fast the year gets going – and a well-deserved Sunday off is coming up!

Great Dancer Illuminates Interlochen

Wendy Masterson
October 6, 2014

Misty Copeland Shares her Story

Misty Copeland, the third African American female soloist at American Ballet Theatre, visited classes in the Liberal Arts and Dance Divisions on Monday, October 6. In the morning, she led a discussion with the students of Jeffrey Wescott's Illuminating Lives course. Following a book-signing of her latest publication, Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina, Ms. Copeland joined the dancers for a Q & A, took ballet class with them, and coached rehearsals for The Sleeping Beauty. The dancers were thrilled to learn more about the daily life of a successful dancer and have her participate in their warm-up class.  Ms. Copeland encouraged the young artists to always remember their passion for dance and be open for what the future provides.

To the Pointe

Wendy Masterson
September 29, 2014

The Shoe

Historically dance began during the Italian Renaissance and rose to greater prominence in the royal courts in France with the patronage of the Sun King, Louis XIV (1600s). The rounded position of the arms and pointed extension of the toes emerged as characteristics of this classical dance form. In the early 1800s when choreographers wanted their sylphs, magical fairy creatures, to appear lighter than air, the pointe shoe was developed. As the name suggests, these shoes made of tissue-like fabric were pointed at the tips. Gradually as technique has evolved, the need for a more stable platform emerged and the flatter tip became the norm. Even so, today's shoes  are still made predominately of fabric and glue.

Dance Happenings

Cameron Basden
September 26, 2014
Interlochen is beautiful right now!!!
The lake is sparkling, the sun is shining and the campus of Interlochen is quite beautiful! Daily classes are continuing and the students have now become adjusted to life at Interlochen. Sleeping Beauty rehearsals are underway - the dancers are quick and we are moving along at a rapid rate. That gives us more time for cleaning and more time spent on artistry and details. "Collage" auditions have happened and dance will certainly be a part of it. We are anticipating parents weekend and look forward to seeing those of you who can attend. Misty Copeland will be here on the 6th - time is flying ...