Purchase College/Conservatory of Dance, education affiliate member, Wallie Wolfgruber
1. Describe your organization’s mission and its work in 3 adjectives. Please explain the adjectives you selected.
Keywords for our mission are: professional, rigorous, and individualistic.
Here at Purchase, we aim to provide our students with the training and education they need in order to be successful in the professional dance world. We prepare them to enter the international professional world of dance as performers and/or choreographers and become the dance artists of the future. Our BFA program is rigorous in the sense that there are technique classes every day both in ballet and modern in addition to a full rehearsal schedule and additional classes which range from contact improv and an array of somatics courses to ballet partnering and repertory. Attendance is taken for every class, and we expect a professional level of discipline and behavior of the students. We provide individual diagnostic feedback to students and teach them to work in a healthy, aligned way making the most of what they have to reach their highest potential as an individual.
2. What inspires the work of your organization and why?
Faculty members at Purchase have/had successful careers in dance, whether they were a dancer, choreographer, and/or artist in a related field. Our combined experience and expertise provide a launch pad for the dance artists of the future. We are servicing the new generations while keeping on top of current developments; a passion and love for the art form and the strong beliefs that dance, as for all of the arts, is vital for a healthy society.
3. What accomplishment from the past year is your organization most proud of and eager to share with Dance/USA’s membership and the field at large?
Bottom line: Purchase dancers work! Many of our alumni are very successful in the field.
Our student company, the Purchase Dance Company, had an amazing spring season which included performances of Dvorak Serenade choreographed by Lar Lubovitch. Lubovitch hardly ever gives his rep to student companies, and in our case, we had two casts performing Dvorak Serenade, and they did a beautiful job. One could not have guessed it was a student company. It’s also exciting as the Company just came back from a tour to Taiwan.
4. Where do you see dance in the future and how does your organization fit within that vision?
I think the globalization and democratization of dance will continue in the future as will an emphasis on interdisciplinary work and collaboration. I see all of this as very positive. Technological advancements will continue to be used and explored in innovative ways but I personally don't think they will be the driving force in shaping the future of dance. It will be, and already is, very important for dancers to know about the world outside of dance and other art forms. The ability to express oneself well, verbally and in writing, and to advocate what one does is more important now than ever before. We therefore need to put an emphasis on these skills while advancing their technical and expressive dance abilities. I believe every society needs those who conserve the traditions, those who mix the traditional up with new ideas and cross boundaries, and those who are not interested in tradition, pushing ideas further and focusing on completely new creations. I believe the Conservatory of Dance is a place that bridges tradition and innovation. We seek to bring the best forward. We are a stronghold when it comes to technical skill. Our dancers are highly trained, technically skilled, and able to master the most difficult repertory. We focus on ballet and modern/contemporary technique, but our curriculum
also includes the most cutting edge somatic modalities to support our dancers' health and well-being. All students go through four years of improvisation/composition and learn to express their artistic voices in unique and creative ways.
5. As an organization, what do you hope your dance legacy to be?
To be one of the world's best places for the training and education of future dance artists.