Pointe: Modern Dance Choreographer Pam Tanowitz On Approaching The Ballet World as an “Outsider”
By Chava Lansky
31 May 2019
Pam Tanowitz is on a roll. Though the choreographer long ago made a name for herself in the modern dance world, ballet companies are finally starting to take notice of her work. Earlier this month, Tanowitz created her first of two ballets for New York City Ballet; in June she’ll debut her first outdoor site-specific piece, conceived of with NYCB principal Sara Mearns; and tonight marks the premiere of Gustave Le Grey No. 1 at the Kennedy Center’s Ballet Across America festival, featuring dancers from Miami City Ballet and Dance Theatre of Harlem.
We caught up with Tanowitz just before she jetted off to London for a tour with her own company, Pam Tanowitz Dance, to hear about her relationship to ballet technique, her upcoming premiere and her advice for young dancers.
Ballet as an Influence
“I was never going to be the dancer/choreographer that started with three-year-old ballet class, so I’ve always been an outsider to this world,” says Tanowitz. “That’s actually a big influence on my work.” Tanowitz grew up studying modern dance in Westchester County, New York and later earned her degree in dance at Ohio State University, followed by an MFAat Sarah Lawrence College. It was there that she became enamored by Merce Cunningham’s technique, which continues to play a big role in her choreographic style. Yet ballet was always present: Not only did Tanowitz take classes, but she immersed herself deeply in dance history. “I watched tons of Balanchine and Robbins and Tharp,” she says, adding that her favorite ballet of all time is Jerome Robbins’ 1959 Moves.
Read the full article on Pointe’s blog.
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