The Mark Morris Dance Group Launches Unique Dance Accompaniment Training Program in Partnership with Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU

(Brooklyn, NY) – The Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG) in partnership with the Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University (CBA) will launch the Mark Morris Dance Accompaniment Training Program, a new, innovative program to train and provide practical experience for dance accompanists. This one-of-a-kind program recognizes the significance of music in the dance studio and aims to further legitimize dance accompaniment as a viable and much needed profession within the music and dance industries.
The program’s kick-off event will take place at CBA, 16 Cooper Square, New York, NY, on Monday, March 6 at 6:00pm and is by invitation only.
“The art of dance accompaniment has very nearly vanished,” says Mark Morris, MMDG Artistic Director/Choreographer. “We teachers, choreographers, and répétiteurs have become so accustomed to recorded music for class and rehearsal that we’ve lost the capacity to adequately express our music needs. At the same time, the idea of ‘accompaniment’ has become a disparaging term. It was once an honorable vocation for real musicians. We aim to restore the collaborative relationship between 
music and dance artists in the studio. The benefits are many, the drawbacks – none.”
“Undeviating in his devotion to music,” Morris has been committed to live music at every performance of his company since 1996 with the creation of the MMDG Music Ensemble. Morris brings this passion to his arts-in- education programming, providing live music in every class and workshop at the Mark Morris Dance Center and through Access/MMDG community engagement programs in New York City and around the world. Under Morris’s leadership, and led by MMDG Director of 
Education Sarah Marcus, Music Director at Barnard College Robert Boston, and MMDG Music Director Colin Fowler, the musicians will participate in a three-phase program, each approximately one month in length. Classes will meet at both the Mark Morris Dance Center and CBA.
Over the course of three months, the Mark Morris Dance Accompaniment Training Program will engage eight professional and pre-professional pianists. This pilot phase will be free to participants, who will be trained to accompany ballet and modern dance technique classes and provide assistance in finding employment in the field of dance accompaniment. For the second round, slated for this summer, the program will also be open to percussionists, guitarists and other instrumentalists. The 
program can accommodate up to ten musicians. 
“We are thrilled to partner with CBA on this new initiative which is vital to our industry, said Sarah Marcus, MMDG Director of Education. “CBA is an outstanding organization that is committed to artistic excellence. It recognizes the value of music and dance in rehearsal and on stage and most importantly in the classroom.”
Robert Boston, Music Director at Barnard College said, “Working as a dance accompanist has been an ongoing source of inspiration and has opened doors to me as a composer. Through my work in technique classes I have developed rich collaborative relationships with professionals in the dance world that have also led to commissions for new work. Working with Mark Morris and his dancers has been an invaluable experience that has enhanced my musical sensitivity and given me a deeper understanding of the vital connection between music and dance.” 
Colin Fowler said, “Music and dance are synonymous. Just as incredible artistry and collaborative spirit are required to successfully perform with dancers, it is equally important to assist and support them in a class or rehearsal setting. This program is designed to allow the gift of music and the art of dance to become a common universal language.”
The Mark Morris Dance Accompaniment Training Program participants are:
Alex Perry is a jazz pianist, composer and teacher who has been living in Brooklyn since 2013. He performs solo and with several contemporary jazz ensembles throughout the city.
Renee Ong is a musician, composer and orchestrator from Singapore. She looks fondly upon dance accompaniment as a dual platform of opportunity–both to serve dance and to grow as a musician. Holding the belief that creativity comes through self-discovery, she pursues a variety of disparate arts forms freely yet devotedly.
Kevin Shoemaker, a New York City-based pianist, composer, and producer, writes and performs in a variety of musical genres from classical music to hip-hop to film scores and more. Kevin is on staff as a pianist with Mark Morris Dance Group, Schola Cantorum on Hudson, and as a composer with Haus International.
Pianist and composer Gilad Barkan started playing for dance classes last year. As a trained improviser, he loves the opportunity to relate the aural movements with the physical and is excited to participate in the Mark Morris Dance Accompaniment Training Program to develop and enhance his communication with dancers.
Alexander Clough is a professional jazz pianist and vocal accompanist. Alex also leads a Jazz trio and is currently developing a group featuring original compositions. He freelances all over New York City in a variety of settings as well as teaches private piano instruction.
Jocelyn Bonadio-de Freitas is a classically trained pianist and has just recently begun studying jazz and improvisation. She loves the idea of supporting movement with music and is very much looking forward to participating in the Mark Morris Dance Accompaniment Training Program.
Pianist George Lykogiannis accompanies dance at Rutgers University and Marymount Manhattan College, and is currently a doctoral candidate in piano performance at Rutgers University.
Brendan Polk, a native of Savannah, GA, has been playing piano for over twenty years. In this period of time he has performed jazz and other genres of music internationally and nationally, as well as appearing in concert with musical greats such as Sonny Fortune, Sean Jones, Ben Tucker, and Fred Wesley.
For more information go to markmorrisdancegroup.org/dance-accompaniment or email Sarah Marcus.
The Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG), now in its 36th year, continues to perform at venues around the world. In September 2001, MMDG opened its first permanent home, the Mark Morris Dance Center, in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, housing rehearsal space for the dance community, a School and outreach programs for local children, and dance classes for adults of all levels.
The Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University is an international institute for scholars and artists of ballet and its related arts and sciences. It exists to inspire new ideas and new ballets expanding the way we think about ballet and bringing vitality to its history, practice, and performance in the 21st century.
Sarah Marcus is the Director of Education at the Mark Morris Dance Group, where she designs and implements all educational programming. She teaches technique for students of all ages as well as in the Dance for PD® program. She received her B.S. from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music. She danced for several seasons with the Oakland Ballet Company, Liss Fain Dance, and freelanced for several Bay Area choreographers. She was Artistic Director at Berkeley Ballet Theater, a pre-professional ballet school, from 2005–2009.
Robert Boston is a pianist and composer who has created scores for choreographers including Korhan Basaran, Diane Coburn Bruning, Giada Ferrone, Lone Larsen, Pietro Pireddu, and Caitlin Trainor as well as the Martha Graham Dance Company. He has appeared on NPR’s Front Row and has performed internationally and in New York venues including the Joyce Theater, 92Y Tribeca, The Knitting Factory, The Stone, Rockwood Music Hall, Pianos, and the Prospect Park Bandshell. Recent recordings include the Core Trio, Wieland Möller Trio, Zachary Cale, and Meet the Bostons. He was recently commissioned by Jodi Melnick to compose a new work for harpsichord and electronics which was premiered at the Guggenheim Museum on the Works and Process series. Formerly principal pianist for the Mark Morris Dance Group, he is currently Music Director at Barnard College Department of Dance.
A versatile musician and conductor, Colin Fowler works in many arenas of the music scene in NYC. He is a veteran of numerous Broadway shows, most recently performing in the Tony Award winning musical Jersey Boys. A seasoned church musician, Fowler has led choirs and services at Calvary Baptist Church, Trinity Wall Street, and is currently the organist at Marble Collegiate Church on Fifth Avenue. He also leads services and concerts at Park Avenue Synagogue, where he has served as Music 
Director since 2012. He has been a professor at both NYU and Nyack College. As a classical soloist and collaborative artist, he has performed and recorded with world renowned musicians and ensembles, including Deborah Voigt, The Knights, the American Brass Quintet, James Galway, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He began to collaborate with the Mark Morris Dance Group in 2005 during the creation of Mozart Dances. Since then, he has performed over 40 pieces with the company on almost every keyboard instrument possible, including the harmonium and toy piano, and has conducted performances of Mozart Dances, Acis and Galatea, and The Hard Nut.
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