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The Buzz, 3-15: Passages
Mrs. D joins Mr. B; Sklute to Ballet West; Dienstag leaves DTW -- Robin Staff should succeed her; Happy Trails, Lauren Daniluk; Donlin Loves Jennifer

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2007 The Dance Insider

Edith D'Addario, an institution at the Joffrey Ballet for over four decades and the director of its school for nearly two, passed away March 4 in New York City at the age of 84, the Joffrey Ballet School announced. In recent years, Mrs. D'Addario suffered from emphysema. In a prepared statement, the school's board praised Mrs. D, as she was known to the Joffrey's extended family, as "surrogate mother to students, faculty, and staff. Her devotion to the school and to dance excellence was total and uncompromising, her contributions immeasurable. 'Mrs. D.' will be profoundly missed. Our sincerest sympathy to beloved daughters Diane Greene and Gail D'Addario, present director of the school, and adored grandson Christopher." In a recent citation recognizing her distinguished service, the school noted that "a moment of serendipity played an integral part in Edith D'Addario becoming the director of the Joffrey Ballet School."

School Director and charge: Mrs. D at home in her kingdom. Photo courtesy Joffrey Ballet School.

"Edith D'Addario entered the Joffrey Ballet as a mother in search of quality ballet classes for her daughter," the citation continued. "Though she attended Brooklyn College, after her marriage she devoted her time to nurturing her family. Her involvement in the fledgling organization stemmed from her interest in the work of its founders Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino and their thoroughly American vision of the dance arts. One day, as a gesture of kindness, Mrs. D'Addario answered a ringing phone while her daughter was in class. Mr. Joffrey and Mr. Arpino were taking a nap in the faculty lounge, as they were overtaxed with the burdens of starting a new dance company and school. This gesture, her acumen for business and the arts, and the vision of Mr. Joffrey and Mr. Arpino placed her as part of a trinity that would change the face of dance education in America.

"In September 1961, Edith D'Addario began as the assistant to Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino at the Joffrey Ballet School. In 1966, her title was changed to executive director to reflect the true role she was playing in the organization. During this tenure, she began to design programs that would stimulate growth both artistically and fiscally. She expanded both the children's program and the open division professional classes. The summer intensive at the Joffrey Ballet School is not only hosted in New York City, but satellite programs currently run in Atlanta, San Antonio, and Michigan. Other programs Mrs. D'Addario developed reflect her incredible humanitarian efforts. An award-winning program in ballet was developed for deaf children.

"Additionally, Mrs. D'Addario introduced the trainee program for the Joffrey Ballet School. This program attracts students worldwide to study with the prestigious faculty of the school as they prepare for a career in the performing arts. During this time, the Joffrey Concert Group was created to present the more advanced students in the trainee program with valuable pre-professional experience. The Joffrey Concert Group toured the United States for five years as the performance wing of the Joffrey Ballet School. In 1988, upon the death of Robert Joffrey, Mrs. Edith D'Addario was named director of the Joffrey Ballet School. Since that time, she has served as coordinator of children's casting and rehearsals for the Joffrey Ballet production of 'The Nutcracker' and also for the supers for... 'Petrouchka.'"


Meanwhile, back in Chicago, its current home, the Joffrey Ballet shares the news that veteran dancer and current associate artistic director Adam Sklute has been named artistic director of Ballet West. "Adam Sklute has had tremendous impact and gained enormous experience during his time with the Joffrey, and this appointment is the obvious next step," said Jon Teeuwissen, the Joffrey's executive director. Said Sklute: "I was one of the last two dancers chosen by Robert Joffrey for his company and I've always held that close to my heart. The Joffrey Ballet has been my home for well over 20 years and during my time here I have been given remarkable opportunities to learn about every aspect of this art form. "I have had the chance to work with some of the giants in the dance world during some of the most exciting times for dance in America." As artistic director for Ballet West, I will be able to draw upon this knowledge, these friendships, and this extraordinary tradition, to take the company into the 21st Century. "I am grateful to everyone at the Joffrey Ballet, and would not have this chance if not for them."


Back in Gotham: Marion Dienstag, who as executive director of Dance Theater Workshop for the past three years had the unenviable challenge of trying to fill the shoes of the biggest behemoth in NYC dance administration in the past 30 years, David White, leaves DTW next month to become (deep breath) national director of major gifts for the Jewish Seminary's William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education. In parting, Dienstag called her tenure at DTW "an extraordinary gift.... I have every faith that this is an institution built to last on the foundation of a timeless mission."

The organization has announced a search for a replacement, and I already have a fantasy candidate: DancenOw/NYC artistic director/producer Robin Staff. Co-founding and running DancenOw/NYC for more than a decade, Staff has a)introduced and developed the most important new player in New York presenting in that time, and b)compiled a proven track record of establishing relationships with dancers and micro-dance communities throughout the city. If DTW has one lingering fault, it's that the organization is still sometimes inbred -- not so chronically as it was during the White era, but there are still traces. (It should be noted that not everyone would agree with me, and some would even say Paul, stop with that same ol' tired chanson already.) (PS: This should *not* be read as a back-handed swipe at Dienstag, who has reportedly done Yeoman's work in a tough funding climate.) If there's one word that defines Staff and what she, co-founder Tamara Greenfield, and development director/producer Andrea Sholler bring to the dance community it's *expansion*. Ironically, the only thing that has kept Staff from expanding her vision even more is (relatively) limited resources. Given a dance community theater, presenter, and community center with the creative and (relative) capital resources of Dance Theater Workshop, I believe she could take not just that dance institution but (working with other leading NYC presenters) dance in general in NYC to new heights in fulfilled dreams. I also have it on good authority that there is such mutual respect between Staff and DTW artistic director Carla Peterson that the two could clearly delineate areas of responsibility, authority, and collaboration in the running of this critical national dance institution.


Speaking of executive directions: Lauren Daniluk, former PR and marketing director of the New 42nd Street and New Victory and one of the best dance administrators in the business, is leaving her position as executive director of Armitage Gone! Dance next month to return to her native Miami. Happy Trails, Lauren!


All You Need is Love: Donlin Foreman, co-founder of Buglisi-Foreman Dance, veteran Martha Graham dancer, teacher, and writer, has wed former Buglisi-Foreman principal dancer, Graham ensemble member, and teacher Jennifer Emerson, in ceremonies February 17 in Milford, New Hampshire.

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