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Contemporary Master poster

Contemporary Masters Performance

Each performance of Contemporary Masters is now available on DVD. Please download and complete the order form(s) of the performance(s) you wish to view again and again.

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Contemporary Masters Biographies

Bella Lewitzky (1916-2004) distinguished herself as a preeminent performer, choreographer, artistic director, educator, public speaker, and civic activist.  Born in the California desert, Lewitzky began her career with modern dance pioneer Lester Horton, who became her mentor and most influential teacher.  In a remarkable fifteen year association, Lewitzky became Horton’s leading dancer, his choreographic collaborator, and a master teacher of his technique.  In 1950 Bella left Horton to pursue her own artistic development, and in 1951 she opened a school, Dance Associates.  Later, she became the principal teacher-choreographer at Idyllwild School of Music and the Arts from 1954 to 1972 and became chair of the dance program there in 1958.  In 1966, at age 50, she founded the Bella Lewitzky Dance Company and continued actively as a performer.  Her dancers became noted for their purity of line, strength, agility, and elevation.  In 1969 she became the founding Dean of the School of Dance at the California Institute of the Arts until 1972 when she resigned, owing to an increasing number of requests for company performances.  The company eventually toured extensively to over 20 foreign countries on five continents and 43 states.  Bella served on various important arts boards in California as well as nationwide.  She was a passionate advocate of the art of dance as a transformative agent of the individual and society.

Donald McKayle, recipient of honors and awards in every aspect of his illustrious career, has been named by the Dance Heritage Coalition "one of America’s Irreplaceable Dance Treasures: the first 100." His choreographic masterworks, considered modern dance classics, Games, Rainbow Round My Shoulder, District Syoryville, and Songs of the Disinherited are performed around the world. He has choreographed over seventy works for dance companies in the United States, Canada, Israel, Europe, and South America. The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley, the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, and the Lula Washington Dance Theatre serve as repositories for his works. He is Artistic Mentor for the Limón Dance Company. Ten retrospectives have honored his choreography. In April 2005, Donald McKayle was honored at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and presented with a medal as a Master of African American Choreography. In dance he has received the Capezio Award, the Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Award,  the American Dance Guild Award, a Living Legend Award from the National Black Arts Festival, the Heritage Award from the California Dance Educators Association, two Choreographer’s Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Dance/USA Honors, an Irvine Fellowship in Dance, the Martha Hill Lifetime Achievement Award, the Annual Award from the Dance Masters of America, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Dance Under the Stars Choreography Festival, the Black College Dance Exchange Honors, the Dance Magazine Award, and the American Dance Legacy Institute’s Distinguished  and Innovative Leadership Award, among others. For his work in education, he has earned the Balasaraswati/Joy Ann Dewey Beinecke Endowed Chair for Distinguished Teaching, UCI’s Distinguished Faculty Lectureship Award for Research, and he is a recipient of the UCI Medal, the highest honor given by the University of California, Irvine.  At the University of California, Irvine he has also been awarded the title of Claire Trevor Professor in Dance, an endowed chair, and is a Bren Fellow. Mr. McKayle has served on the faculties of numerous international forums and many prestigious national institutions including the Juilliard School, Bennington College, Bard College, Sarah Lawrence College, the American Dance Festival, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, and was Dean of the School of Dance at the California Institute of the Arts. His autobiography, Transcending Boundaries: My Dancing Life, published by Routledge was honored with the Society of Dance History Scholar’s De La Torre Bueno Prize. A television documentary on his life and work, Heartbeats of a Dance Maker, was aired on PBS stations throughout the United States.

Nascimento Novoby Parsons Dance.
Nascimento Novoby Parsons Dance.

David Parsons, Artistic Director/Co-Founder of Parsons Dance has enjoyed a remarkable career as a performer, choreographer, teacher, director, and producer of dance.Mr. Parsons was born in Chicago and raised in Kansas City.  He was a leading dancer with The Paul Taylor Dance Company, where Mr. Taylor created many roles for him in works such as Arden Court, Last Look and Roses.  He is a recipient of the 2000 Dance Magazine Award, as well as the 2001 American Choreography Award, for his work as a co-producer of AEROS, a production featuring the Romanian Gymnastic Federation that was featured on Bravo.  Mr. Parsons has created more than 70 works for Parsons Dance.  He has received commissions over the years from The American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the American Dance Festival, Jacob's Pillow, the Spoleto Festival, and Het Muziektheater in Amsterdam, to name a few. His work has been performed by Paris Opera Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Nederlands Danse Theatre, National Ballet of Canada, Hubbard Street Dance, and BatSheva Dance Company of Israel, among many others.  In June 2007, Mr. Parsons was honored to be the very first contemporary choreographer ever to stage work at the centuries-old Arena di Verona, in Verona Italy, where he choreographed Verdi's Aida.  The Arena is one of Italy's most respected operatic venues.  In September 2007, he directed and choreographed Gotham Chamber Opera's production of Maria de Buenos Aires, which made its world premiere at a sold-out engagement in New York, at NYU's Skirball Center for the Arts.  In the July 27, 2007 edition of The New York Times, Jennifer Dunning called David Parsons "one of the great movers of modern dance." 

Photo of Parsons Dance, Caught, by Kielpinski
Photo of Parsons Dance, Caught, by Kielpinski

IU Contemporary Dance | Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance | Lee Norvelle Center, 275 N. Jordan Ave, Bloomington, IN 47405 | (812) 855-7020

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