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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ballet BC appoints new executive director

>> by Samantha Mehra
Ballet BC recently announced the appointment of new Executive Director Branislav Henselmann. In a statement, Artistic Director Emily Molnar communicated her support: "Branislav is a talented and accomplished leader whose background, experience, and connections with the international dance community will add significant strength to Ballet BC's leadership team." Henselmann, originally a dancer who trained both in Munich and at the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance, comes to the new position with a wide variety of international experience in arts management. In addition to earning an MFA in Dance and Business Administration as a Dean's Fellow at New York University, he served as head of programming and learning for DanceEast; artistic curator for New York City Ballet's Choreographic Institute; and most recently, as executive producer for London's Michael Clark Company. Henselmann takes over the role from Jay Rankin, who is now executive director of BJM Danse.
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Menaka Thakkar wins Walter Carsen Prize

>> by Jacqueline Hansen

Menaka Thakkar / Photo by David Hou

Indian classical dancer, choreographer and teacher Menaka Thakkar is the 2012 winner of the prestigious Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts administered by the Canada Council for the Arts. The award coincides with another major milestone for Thakkar – forty years of practicing and teaching classical Indian dance in Canada. She first gave workshops and performances in Canada in 1972 and then immigrated permanently soon after, opening her school of Indian dance, Nrtyakala, and forming the Menaka Thakkar Dance Company. A pioneer of Indian dance in Canada, Thakkar is also the first dance artist from a non-western practice to receive the Walter Carsen Prize. The Canada Council for the Arts defines the award as recognizing "the highest level of artistic excellence and distinguished career achievement by Canadian artists who have spent the major part of their career in Canada in dance, theatre or music." Thakkar and her company will perform at the award presentation on October 20th, 2012.

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Leland Windreich (1926-2012)

Leland Windreich / Photo courtesy of Dance Collection Danse

>> by Kaija Pepper
Leland Windreich – a rare breed of writer who established himself as an important dance historian and critic – uncovered one of Canada’s great art stories: the Vancouver-Ballet Russe connection. Starting in 1938, seven dancers who had trained in the small west coast city joined one of two famed Russian companies: Colonel de Basil’s Ballet Russe or Serge Denham’s Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo.

Lee, as he was known to friends, died in Vancouver in July at age 85, still engaged in the art form he loved, though mostly via the internet due to limited mobility. His lifetime involvement with dance began as a boy in San Francisco devouring movie musicals starring Eleanor Powell or Ruby Keeler. By the time he immigrated to Canada in 1961 (for a University of Victoria librarian’s post), ballet was his passion.

Several of Windreich’s countless reviews and articles are collected in his book, Dance Encounters. Windreich also edited Dancing for de Basil: Letters to her parents from Rosemary Deveson 1938-1940, covering the time Deveson toured with the Ballet Russe under the stage name Natasha Sobinova. In June Roper: Ballet Starmaker, Windreich wrote about the teacher who created the hothouse where those seven dancers bloomed. These books, published by Dance Collection Danse, are Lee Windreich’s legacy, his gift to the dance community.
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