The School of Dance is committed to bringing distinguished guests to work with and inspire its students. To assist the School of Dance in fulfilling this commitment, patrons Betsy Brackett and Gregg Wadley established the Brackett Distinguished Visiting Artist Chair in 2005. Among those honored by this title are Frederic Franklin, Violette Verdy, Dudley Williams, Betty Jones and Fritz Ludin, Howard Sayette, Jack Anderson, Donald McKayle, Francia Russell, Carla Maxwell, Jock Soto, Raimondo Rebeck, Trey McIntyre, David Hochoy, Virginia Johnson, and Gus Solomons, Jr.
Other visiting artists include Amy Hall Garner, Nilas Martins, Bruce Wells, Earl Mosely, Brian Brooks, Kathleen Tracey, and artists from New York City Ballet, Ballet Austin, Ballet Arizona, Louisville Ballet, Texas Ballet Theatre, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, and Houston Ballet. These distinguished guests have greatly enhanced our programs and are proof of our commitment to our students’ development of a national and international perspective.
SIDRA BELL is currently a Master Lecturer at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, an Adjunct Professor at Ball State University in Indiana, was artist in residence at Harvard University, was an Adjunct Professor at Georgian Court University and was an Adjunct Professor at Barnard College in New York City. She has a BA in History from Yale University and an MFA in Choreography from Purchase College Conservatory of Dance. She was a University of Minnesota Theater Arts & Dance Cowles Visiting Artist and an artist in residence at Cornish College of the Arts (Seattle). Her body of work was featured in the Harvard University Theater, Dance & Media course Contemporary Repertory: Dance Authorship in the 21st Century [A dance technique and choreographic repertory class that will focus on contemporary traditions and the repertory of three choreographers, engaging in the current discourse of contemporary dance.] Bell was the 2019 Honoree at CPR-Center Performance Research's Gala in New York City.
Bell has won several awards, notably a 1st Prize for Choreography at the Solo Tanz Theater Festival in Stuttgart, Germany in 2011 for Grief Point. and a 2015 National Dance Project Production Award from the New England Foundation for the Arts. Additionally, NEFA awarded the company a Production Residency for Dance. The collaborating soloists on works she created also won performance awards for two different solos at the Stuttgart Solo Tanz Theater Festival (1st and 2nd Prizes respectively). The company was one of 25 recipients of the Dance Advancement Fund from Dance/NYC in 2017. Her work has been seen throughout the United States and in Denmark, France, Austria, Bulgaria, Turkey, Slovenia, Sweden, Germany, China, Canada, Aruba, Korea, Brazil, and Greece. The company was lauded as #1 in Contemporary Dance by the Pittsburgh Examiner in 2014 for garment, in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette's 2010 Best in Dance for ReVUE, and in the 2012 Year in Review in ArtsATL's notable performances for Nudity. February 3 was named SIDRA BELL DAY by Mayor Thomas Roach in the City of White Plains, NY.
Bell has received many commissions from institutions and companies internationally and created over 100 new works notably for BODYTRAFFIC, Ailey II, The Juilliard School, Harvard University, Boston Conservatory, River North Dance Chicago, NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Sacramento Ballet, Ballet Austin, Alonzo King's LINES Ballet School, LEVYdance, Robert Moses' KIN, METdance, University of Minnesota, Point Park University, Visceral Dance Chicago, Springboard Danse Montréal, Uppercut Dansteater (Denmark), and Motto Dans Kolectif (Turkey) to name a few. Bell was a cultural ambassador in Sofia, Bulgaria in 2014 and 2015 (made possible by Movement Research, Trust for Mutual Understanding, and Derida Dance Center). In 2015 she collaborated with the internationally acclaimed women's chorus Karmina Slovenica in Slovenia. She is the first Black woman ever to create a new work for New York City Ballet in October 2020.
In 2012, Bell was commissioned as the choreographer for the feature film TEST set in San Francisco during the height of the AIDS crisis in 1985 written/directed by Chris Mason Johnson (Frankfurt Ballet/White Oak Project). TEST was awarded two grand jury prizes from Outfest. The film had many screenings at festivals worldwide, including The Seattle Film Festival, Frameline37 (San Francisco), Outfest (L.A.), Berlinale, and New York City Lincoln Center's NewFest Festival. The movie is enjoying a theatrical release and was a New York Times Critic's Pick. It is currently available on VOD, iTunes and Netflix. Other commercial work includes casting and event coordination for MTV, Revlon, BookAFlashMob, Interview Magazine with photographer Billy Kidd and stylist Katie Burnett, NOWNESS with director Jovan Todorovic & all:expanded, Daisies Art Fair with director Sandra Winther & all:expanded, fashion photographer Lloyd Stevie & stylist Alison Mazur, New York Times' T Magazine (New York Times' Style Magazine), Granary 1 Magazine, and Paris Fashion Week for Baserange.
Bell is a sought-after master teacher and her alternative pedagogy, Contemporary Systems-an interior & material approach was featured in Dance Magazine, Dance Teacher Magazine and Dance Studio Life Magazine. She has taught her unique creative practice at major institutions for dance and theater throughout Canada, Europe, South America, and the United States. She was one of the inaugural choreographers at University of North Carolina School of the Arts Professional Studies Program and a founding collaborator of the Movement Invention Project. She was also the inaugural teaching artist at University of the Arts Sophomore Coaching Performance progress where she has led a teaching team under her pedagogical methods since 2012. The company was an inaugural collaborative partner of Ball State University's charter program Innovation2Impact made possible by the Provost Office and an Immersive Learning Grant. I2I was a three-phase program bringing BSU students to NYC and the company to Indiana for an immersive learning experience. In addition to extensive master classes at institutions for dance and theater Bell's workshops have been presented internationally by STEPS NYC Contemporary Masters, SpringboardX, University of North Carolina School of the Arts Professional Studies Program, Movement Invention Project, Broadway Dance Center, Danskappellet Copenhagen Denmark, Gibney Dance Center, Peridance Capezio Center, The Ailey School, Mark Morris Dance Center, Velocity Dance Center Seattle, Visceral Dance Chicago, International Festival of Goainia Brazil, Derida Dance Center Bulgaria, Motto Dans Kolectif Istanbul, Alonzo King LINES Ballet Dance Center, ODC School San Francisco, YoungARTS Miami, Harvard Dance Center, Yale University, Dancing Grounds New Orleans, MODAS Alberquerque, Karmina Slovenica Slovenia to name a few. She is the Creative Director of the award-winning MODULE a New York City based immersive laboratory for movement and theater artists.
Gus Solomons, Jr.
Dancer and choreographer Gus Solomons, Jr was born on August 27, 1938 in Cambridge, Massachusetts to Olivia Stead Solomons and Gustave Solomons, Sr. He attended Cambridge High and Latin School before enrolling at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1956, where he studied architecture. During this time, he began studying dance as a student of Jan Veen and Robert C. Gilman at the Boston Conservatory of Music.
Upon graduation, Solomons moved to New York City to dance in Oscar Brown, Jr.’s musical Kicks and Company, with choreographer Donald McKayle. Solomons joined McKayle’s company shortly after and began taking classes at the Martha Graham School. Solomons’ interest in postmodernism developed further at Studio 9, where he shared space with other modern dance colleagues and worked with avant-garde experimentalists, some of whom went on to form the Judson Dance Theater collective. While at Studio 9, Solomons caught the attention of Martha Graham’s student Pearl Lang, who cast him in Shira in 1962. In 1965, postmodern choreographer Merce Cunningham asked Solomons to join his company. There, Solomons created roles in How to Pass Kick Fall and Run, RainForest, Place, Walkaround Time, and partnered with Sandra Neels in Scramble. In 1968, Solomons left Cunningham’s company after sustaining a back injury. He then collaborated with writer Mary Feldhaus-Weber and composer John Morris on a dual-screen video-dance piece entitled CITY/MOTION/SPACE/GAME at WGBH-TV in Boston, produced by Rick Hauser. Solomons went on to found his own company, The Solomons Company/Dance, creating over 165 original pieces. He became known for his analytical approach and incorporation of architectural concepts as well as his exploration of interactive video, sound, and movement, as depicted in the piece CON/Text. In 1980, Solomons began writing dance reviews, which were published in The Village Voice, Attitude, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. In 1996, he founded PARADIGM with Carmen de Lavallade and Dudley Williams. Solomons also worked as an arts professor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts until 2013.
In 2004, Solomons was named the American Dance Festival’s Balasaraswati/Joy Ann Dewey Beinecke Endowed Chair for Distinguished Teaching. He received the first annual Robert A. Muh Award from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and served as a Phi Beta Kappa Scholar in 2006.
Virginia Johnson returns to Dance Theatre of Harlem as artistic director having been a founding member and principal dancer. Born in Washington, DC, Johnson graduated from the Academy of the Washington School of Ballet. She briefly attended the School of the Arts at New York University as a University Scholar before joining DTH in 1969. During her 28 years with the company she performed most of the repertoire, with principal roles in Concerto Barocco, Allegro Brillante, Agon, A Streetcar Named Desire, Fall River Legend, Swan Lake, Giselle, Voluntaries, Les Biches among others.
Three DTH productions in which she danced leading roles were recorded for broadcast: A Streetcar Named Desire for Dance in America on PBS, Creole Giselle, which was the first full-length ballet broadcast on NBC, and Fall River Legend, which won a cable ACE award from the Bravo Network. In addition, she was included in two acclaimed television dance series, Margot Fonteyn’s “The Magic of Dance” and Natalia Makarova’s “Ballerina.”
Her choreographic credits include the television film, Ancient Voices of Children in which she danced and an early, self-produced solo concert for Rae Metzger’s Concert Socials. Later choreographic works include ballets created for Goucher College, Dancers Respond to AIDS, the Second Annual Harlem Festival of the Arts, Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center and Marymount Manhattan College, where she was also an adjunct professor. The latter two projects were an outgrowth of Dancers Making Dances, a collaborative choreographic project with former DTH colleagues, Judy Tyrus and Melanie Person
While still performing, her interest in journalism led her to Fordham University where she continues to pursue a degree in communications. After retiring from performing, she founded POINTE magazine and was editor-in-chief from 2000-2009. The popular publication helps dancers prepare for the professional ballet world developing educational seminars and lectures on health and wellness for dancers, auditions and professional preparation.
Her honors include a Young Achiever Award from the National Council of Women, Outstanding Young Woman of America and the Dance Magazine Award, a Pen and Brush Achievement Award and the Washington Performing Arts Society’s 2008-2009 Pola Nirenska Lifetime Achievement Award and the 2009 Martha Hill Fund Mid-Career Award. Highlights of her guest appearances include a tour of Australia with Stars of World Ballet, several appearances at various International Festivals of Dance in Havana Cuba, and with the Royal Ballet at The Royal Opera House in London. Her commitment to community service is maintained through volunteer assignments with New York Cares.
Nilas Martins, born in Copenhagen, received his early dance training at the Royal Danish Ballet School. As a student, he performed with the Royal Danish Ballet in such works as John Neumeier’s Romeo and Juliet, August Bournonville’s Konservatoriet, A Folk Tale, Napoli and Glen Tetleys’s Firebird. In 1984, he moved to New York and enrolled at the School of American Ballet. In September 1986 he became a member of New York City Ballet. In 1991, he was promoted to the rank of soloist and in 1993 to Principal dancer.
In New York City Ballet, Mr. Martins danced numerous featured roles and worked closely with choreographers: John Alleyne, Lynn Taylor Corbett, Boris Eifman, William Forsythe, Peter Martins, Trey McIntyre, Kevin O’Day, Jerome Robbins, Susan Stroman, Richard Tanner among others. Mr. Martins film credits include: “Live from Lincoln Center” broadcast of Ray Charles in Concert, “The Nutcracker” released in 1993 by Warner Brothers, “Dance in America” telecast of “Dinner with Balanchine” where he danced the role of Apollo with Paris Opera Etoile Isabel Guerin. “Lincoln Center Celebrates Balanchine 100” where he danced ‘The Man I Love’ from Who Cares? featuring Wynton Marsalis.
Mr. Martins was one of ten fellows selected from both domestic and international applicants to study under Michael Kaiser as a Devos Institute for Arts Management fellow from 2010-2011. Mr. Martins ‘teaching resume’ include Armitage Gone Dance, BalletMet, Baltimore School for the Arts, Goucher College, Harvard University, Indiana University, Joffrey Ballet School, Miami City Ballet School, National Ballet of China, NBA Ballet (Japan), New York City Ballet, Novosibirsk Ballet (Russia), NYSSA Summer Intensive, Princeton University, Royal Danish Ballet, School of American Ballet and Washington Ballet.
Since 1996, Mr. Martins has been a Repetiteur for the George Balanchine Trust and stages ballets for companies and schools domestically as well as internationally.
David is now in his 26th season as Artistic Director of Dance Kaleidoscope in Indianapolis. He was born in Trinidad, West Indies. After receiving a B. Sc. at McGill University in Montreal, where he began studying for a career as a doctor, he continued his graduate work in theatre working on an M.A. in directing from Penn State.
In New York, he studied at the Alvin Ailey and Martha Graham schools and danced with numerous national companies as well as the Toronto Dance Theater. In 1980, he was invited to join the Martha Graham Dance Company. Made a soloist in 1982 and rehearsal director in 1986, David toured the world with Graham until 1989. He has given master classes in Graham technique throughout the U.S. and Europe, and in 1990 was invited to Guangzhou, China, to teach the experimental troupe of the Guangdong Dance Academy for ten weeks.
David has been on the faculty of the Martha Graham School since 1982. In addition, he has taught at the American Dance Festival (ADF) held at Duke University, as well as ADF West in Salt Lake City and ADF Seoul in Korea. In 1991, he was invited to teach and choreograph at the Vienna International Dance Festival. He has given workshops in Quebec, Tokyo, Oslo, Dublin and Rio de Janeiro.
David spent two years as a full-time faculty member at Texas Christian University. Since becoming DK’s Artistic Director in 1991, he has choreographed over 70 dances including Scheherazade, Carmina Burana, COLE!, The Planets, The Four Elements, El Salòn México, Magical Mystery Tour, Rite of Spring, Les Noces and Romeo and Juliet Fantasy. He has choreographed dances for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra for its New Year’s Eve performances as well as their Discovery Series concerts. He has choreographed numerous productions at the Indiana Repertory Theatre, including A Christmas Carol, the Civic Theatre, Phoenix Theatre, Edyvean Repertory Theatre, Salome for the Arizona Opera and Miss Evers’ Boys for Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park and for Santa Fe Stages. He also was Artistic Director of The Green Shows at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) for ten seasons. He is the founder and co-artistic director of Spotlight, an annual fund-raiser for the Indiana Aids Fund that has brought together the Indianapolis Performing Arts community since 1994.
David was a recipient of a prestigious Choo-San Goh Award for his choreography
Rhapsody in Blue in 2006. He is a two-time recipient of a Master Fellowship in Choreography and an Individual Artist Grant from the Indiana Arts Commission as well as a Creative Renewal Fellowship from the Arts Council of Indianapolis. He has been awarded the Key to the City by the City/County Council, the Distinguished Hoosier Award by the Governor of Indiana, and was honored by the Center for Leadership Development for outstanding achievement in the arts. In 2004, he was voted one of Indiana’s 25 Keepers – men and women working to make a difference in Indiana – by the readers of Indy Men’s Magazine. He has served as a dance panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts. On April 2, 2011, Mayor Gregory A. Ballard declared that date as David Hochoy Day in honor of his 20 years as DK’s artistic director and in recognition of his service to the arts in Indianapolis. In 2012, he was honored with the Creativity Award by University High School. In 2013 the Indiana Historical Society named him an Indiana Living Legend and he received the Governor’s Arts Award from the Indiana Arts Commission in 2016. Most recently he was received awards from the Institute for Caribbean Studies in Washington, D.C. and the Penn State Thespians.