Category: Art

…. 5, 6, 7, 8!

By Marc Kessler, CTFD dancer-client, Caroline H. Newhouse grant recipient, Sono Osato Scholarship for Graduate Studies recipient

Marc Kessler

When I was a junior in high school, I auditioned for a school production of 42nd Street and fell in love with tap dancing. I loved the rhythm, the patterns, and the paradox of feeling grounded but also light on my feet. I found myself tapping at the grocery store while shopping with my mom. I had been bitten by the bug and I couldn’t get enough. I studied tap, ballet, jazz, and modern dance as a musical theatre major at the University of Michigan but tap was always my favorite way to express myself as a dancer.

When I started learning to tap dance in high school, never could I have dreamt of the opportunities it would afford me. I toured the country tapping in Broadway musicals such as Anything Goes and 42nd Street. I toured the world tapping with Tommy Tune and the Manhattan Rhythm Kings. I have tap danced at Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, off-Broadway, and as an elf on Broadway. I have tap danced for three different presidents and sang n a feature film directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

My fellow performers often asked me why I transitioned out of a successful dancing career to teach math to middle school students. Part of the reason I turned to teaching was because I knew I would be good at it. My side jobs as a dancer/actor usually included some form of teaching and I honestly enjoyed connecting with the kids. Another reason for my shift in careers was that my wife and I knew we would be starting a family. Since my wife is a successful stage director (we met doing a show together), it made sense for me to pursue a more stable career outside of show business. And now, I am happy to say that I am loving my new roles as father of three small children and math teacher of two-hundred fifty 7th and 8th graders.

But why teach math? Why not teach dance or drama? I have always been good with numbers and my creative background has served me well bringing math to life for my students. By putting on a show in the classroom, I am able to get my students excited about factoring polynomials and graphing exponential functions.

I always suspected I would enjoy challenging my students and encouraging them to grow. What has surprised me in my new career though is the thrill I get from using technology in the classroom. Effectively using technology allows me to engage my students and assess their understanding more efficiently. I have found creative websites that allow students to work at their own pace. Recently, my students enthusiastically presented their “math in the real world” projects using video and power point technology. Who says math isn’t creative?!

And with these ideas in mind, I am pursuing a graduate degree in technology education. This particular program I am enrolled in at New Jersey City University emphasizes a theatrical approach to utilizing technology in the classroom. Their belief is that students become more engaged in the learning process when they are allowed to express their understanding in creative ways through technology. With my background in the performing arts combined with my propensity for numbers, I feel I can offer a unique and refreshing approach to the traditional math classroom. Therefore, I would like to combine my background with my discoveries in graduate school to create a program that trains math teachers to bring a theatrical and creative approach to their curriculum through the use of engaging and effective technology.

Skill, Passion, and Destiny

by Jason Herbert, CTFD dancer-client and Newhouse Grant Recipient

Jason Herbert

A decade ago, I embarked on a career in dance that I couldn’t have imagined in my wildest dreams.  Traveling the country and the world, I performed for thousands of people and worked with artists that inspired me.  It was during my time with The Philadelphia Dance Company aka Philadanco! that I was introduced to Career Transition For Dancers.  CTFD explained all of the possibilities for dancers transitioning into careers and how to utilize all of the skills that dancers possess.   Because they offer entrepreneurial and educational grants to artists who have worked in the field for a number of years, I recently applied for the Newhouse grant (and was awarded!) to jump start my career in video production.

I started a company with two friends that develops, produces, and manages artists in music, theater, and film.  I dove straight in as a Project Manager and an Artistic Consultant.  Some of my duties include recording, photo shoots, video shoots, social media, and video production.  In my travels as an artist, I noticed I had an eye for video editing upon returning from a tour of Europe.  My business partner encouraged me to pursue it on a higher level.  We both enrolled in an advanced course in digital editing at the New York Film Academy where I progressed quickly but didn’t have the equipment at home to practice or perfect my craft.  One thing I learned from dance is that your tools to success is just as important as your drive and determination.  A high-powered computer and up-to-date editing software is essential to starting a career in video production, two things I didn’t possess nor could afford.

From the stage to the screen, I will transfer all my knowledge and passion as a performer into my videos with skill and education behind me.  I am at a place to carve a new destiny with my experience in dance as my foundation.

Connecting Life Sequences

cold color julio e  rivera  photo by erik alberg

By Julio Enrique Rivera, Caroline H. Newhouse Recipient

Transitions are the soul of the dance, connecting sequences of movement that allow for flow of clear and compelling expression. Transitions must have clarity, focus, and confidence for the fluidity and effortless connections. For a dancer, it is a joyous experience that makes the dance greater than the steps alone. And so it is with any transition in life.

I learned about effortless transitions early in life. Excelling in school, I always sought enriching opportunities by way of clubs, programs, and sports. I learned that discipline is key in any commitment and that focus and perseverance lead to success. I brought these tools from academic demands to the arts of theater and dance.

My most demanding transition was leaving to the vastness of Princeton University. Attending an Ivy League institution presented the expanse of a liberal arts education with great academic focus. Advance placement allowed me access to upper level courses forging a great course to exploring new horizons. I initially diminished my participation in the arts. I discovered new sports such as squash and tennis. My body longed to move as my mind was racing. I was transitioning once again. Then the arts returned! Women were now part of the student body and modern dance classes were offered with Ze’eva Cohen. Princeton also instituted a certificate program in theater and dance, and I was one of the first to enroll.

The next year, I was enjoying graduate courses in psychology and “jete-in” about campus. My first thesis melded these two loves, and it’s success jettisoned me into expanding it for my senior thesis; the perception of expression in movement.  My field work was: more dance classes at Princeton, the Princeton Ballet Society, and a scholarship at the Ailey school. I graduated with honors in 1976, I decided to postpone my interest in the Harvard clinical program to follow the more immediate call…DANCE!!!! I returned to Ailey’s and continue to dance knowing that one day I return to my interest in helping individuals realize a better situation through some kind of support.

By 1986 I had danced with myriad companies and choreographers. Early on I decided  to focus on traveling as guest performer, master teacher and choreographer. With support from Alvin Ailey, I founded Contemporary Motions as a venue to showcase my solo, duets and trio works. Fellow choreographers donated solo works I had performed, and I created a  new repertoire of solos, duets, and trios that I would present nationally and internationally until 2006.

In 2004, cancer presented yet another opportunity for transition in life. I returned to finish my contracts, then decided to retire with an excellent record to that transition in 1976. Nine years in full remission, and full of zest, I seek to return to my love of psychology as a life coach. Lynn Goldberg, a life coach for dancers introduced me to Coaching for Wellness certification program. It was the transition I had been waiting for. I enrolled and graduated in the Associate Level certificate program. With the assistance of the CTFD Caroline H. Newhouse Scholarship, I will be able to continue my certification at the Professional level which allows me to participate with the highest credentials possible and work various niches as well as mentor and teach in life coaching programs.

somewhat hopng i was dreaming 6 2  rivera  photo alberg

The Definition of Energy

Seth HoffScott Lowe, Caroline H. Newhouse Grant Recipient

I started dancing quite late (19), and sidestepped a more traditional career path, prepared by a very expensive engineering degree at Stanford, in order to dance. I have been immensely grateful that I had the impulsive courage to make that decision. Renewable energy had been my passion until I confronted fate and took the chance to be a dancer. While I did not have a clear idea of what a stage career would lead to, I have happily pursued a transition inspired by the humanistic focus of my performing career. The travel involved in touring shaped my perspective on the contributions I can make with my next career, and one year ago, I began applying to MBA programs with the intention of re-engaging my passion for renewable energy with an international focus. Touring as a dancer in Brazil was extremely challenging, but in the end, it showed me the possibility of truly revolutionary leaps in renewable energy. I hope to work in Latin America in this sector, coalescing the cultural and technical skills I developed in the complementary environments of science and art.

Seth Hoff

In the meantime, I was accepted to a prestigious program, ESADE, in Barcelona, Spain, which has distinguished opportunities to work on renewable energy projects.  The story of my journey as a dancer, including my articulation of the freelance artist as individual entrepreneur, was the basis for my application. Indeed, leveraging the skills endemic to a dance career—negotiation, working in close groups, creating opportunities when you can find none—will be a strength as I take my next career journey.

Transitioning Then and Now

By Patricia Cody, CTFD dancer-client, Attorney, Former Gypsy

Chita Rivera & Patricia Cody
Chita Rivera & Patricia Cody at the 26th Anniversary Jubilee on October 31, 2011
It has been almost two decades since I first walked in the door of Career Transition For Dancers.  Career-wise, those two decades have seen me through three years at New York Law School, graduating first in my class, landing my first attorney job at Sullivan & Cromwell, paying back my law school loans, and years of law firm practice predominantly as an employment and labor litigator.  One year a go, a big transition in my legal career occurred  when I became General Counsel for TheraCare of New York, Inc., an education and health services provider company to special needs children in the tri-state area.
If anyone had told me during my years as a dancer and performer that this would be the career path I would eventually take, I would have been the first one to insist that they were mistaken.  From the age of four, my life essentially revolved around dance – dance classes, recitals, dreams of performing in musical comedy theater, and of course, on Broadway.
Patricia Cody
Patricia Cody sharing her transition story on stage at the 26th Anniversary Jubilee

So, one might ask what happened to change all this?  My answer would be two fold.  First, I achieved the performing goals I set for myself and had reached a time in my life when I was ready to chart a new career path.  Second, and most importantly, I learned about CTFD, enrolled in the free one-one career counseling program, and gained invaluable assistance from my excellent career counselor, Elizabeth Campbell.

Going through the CTFD program taught me that anything is possible, no matter how daunting a career transition may seem at first.  As long as you approach the process one step at a time, are passionate about your choices, and never ever lose your sense of humor ——- well, even a dancer can become a lawyer . . .  and a litigator–general counsel.