More on Mariah Steele (part 2)

Photo Credit: Eli Akerstein
by karen Krolak

Things are a bit crazy this week as we prep for both the Movement and the Mills performance and Cambridge Connections Concert at Endicott College so I have decided to spread Mariah Steele's interview out over a few days. Today's section covers her early dance training...which reminds me that I was going to put up a post about the Boston Performing & Visual Arts College Fair. Ergg...let's see if I can sneak that in before I leave to vote.

karen Krolak: Can you tell me a little bit about your dance training?
Mariah Steele: Throughout my life, I have been blessed with incredible teachers who have been both at the top of the field and dedicated to the art of teaching. I had the unique good fortune to grow up in a dance school that focused on modern dance: the Steffi Nossen School of Dance in White Plains, NY. In elementary school, the program consisted of creative movement classes with lots of imagination.  In second grade, my mother put me into ballet classes instead, and I cried after every class; she put me right back into the Steffi Nossen program.  In fourth grade, I joined the “master class” track and began learning May O'Donnell technique; I would go on to study this technique with teacher Nancy Lushington every single Saturday until I graduated from high school, in addition to other modern classes during the week. I did not take ballet again consistently until 9th grade, when I joined the pre-professional Steffi Nossen Dance Company.  

kK: I am so impressed by the variety of pre-professional companies open to high school students now. How was the Steffi Nossen Dance Company structured?
MS: “Company,” as we called it, involved working with a different NYC choreographer every semester, in addition to at least three dance classes during the week.  Among other exciting choreographers, we had former Paul Taylor, Limon and Mark Morris dancers make pieces on us.  In this way, I was trained to be a truly versatile dancer and performer because each choreographer brought a different movement quality, technique and choreographic theory to his/her piece. 

kK: My word, that is a very unique program. I am quite jealous. College dance programs might even feel  a bit anti-climatic by comparison.
MS: Well, I then went on to train with Ze'eva Cohen and Rebecca Lazier at Princeton University, two of the most transformative teachers I have encountered in any discipline.  Ze'eva was instrumental in teaching me about breath and intention, and she helped me uncover my own unique choreographic voice. From Rebecca, I gained new insights into how thinking about imagery and anatomy can change how we move, making our movement more efficient and expansive.  Beyond dance, these lessons proved to me the power of our imaginations to create physical changes in our bodies and our worlds. 

Tomorrow we will conclude with a chat about how academics and dance can influence each other...

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