Navigating Integrity within Educational Partnerships in Ballet

Presenter: Alexis Arlene Andrews, Faculty ABT JKO Division; Patricia Cohen, Adjunct Faculty NYU Steinhardt; Mariana Ranz, Ballet Hispánico Community Arts Program Manager; Adelheid Strelick, Assistant Professor Adelphi University


This panel posits that it is both possible and necessary to maintain institutional and curricular integrity in a partnership of unlike entities. At the same time, advocating for integrity in ballet education and performance necessarily includes a Critical Dance Pedagogy approach that is inclusive and makes ballet accessible to all. The panelists who are graduates of the combined program, and the moderator who was their advisor, query the most efficacious ways of advocating for excellence in ballet as teaching artists, college professors, and education outreach coordinators. Each will present her unique objectives and challenges in maintaining the rigor of ballet in teaching and learning situations. As a group, we have engaged in scholarship and created opportunities for furthering ballet studies in K-12 schools, in schools associated with ballet companies, and in higher education. The panelists’ recognition that ballet can be addressed holistically is supported by their research into educational theory and its application to teaching ballet. Through ongoing experiential research, our panelists have challenged their assumptions and beliefs about teaching, which has facilitated teaching to understand, from clear learning goals through relevant activities to assessment. They are reflective teachers and administrators who utilize best practices in observational skills and analysis. The panelists will explore ways of teaching ballet that ensure both fine technique and rigorous critical thinking skills, thereby exemplifying the best of each partnering institution. 


Alexis Arlene Andrews

Alexis Arlene Andrews began her ballet training in Reno, Nevada under the direction of Maggie Banks and Dr. Barbara Land. Her training continued at Walnut Hill School for the Arts, American Ballet Theatre, San Francisco Ballet School and the Joffrey Ballet School. Andrews performed with the Nevada Festival Ballet, as well as a principal guest artist with the A.V.A. Ballet Theater. In May 2014, she graduated from New York University Steinhardt Dance Education Program with a Masters of Art for Teaching Dance in the Professions: American Ballet Theatre (ABT) Pedagogy and was awarded a certificate for Outstanding Achievement in Graduate Dance Education. Alexis is an ABT® Certified Teacher in Pre-Primary through Level Seven of the ABT® National Training Curriculum.

As a dance educator she has taught and adjudicated for Dance Educators of America and Sheer Talent Ltd and directed a ballet enrichment program serving Northside Center for Child Development Headstart programs in New York City. In the summer 2015 Alexis traveled to Costa Rica to collaborate with eleven studios, focused on ballet education. Andrews is beginning her seventh year on faculty at the ABT Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (JKO) Division. She is also a Teaching Artist for ABT, a dance consultant at Hunter College Elementary, and is a faculty member of the Dance Theatre of Harlem, New Canaan Dance Academy, The School for Peridance, and NYU Steinhardt Summer Intensive.


Patricia Cohen

Patricia Cohen, MA is an adjunct faculty member at NYU/Steinhardt in the Masters degree dance education program, and formerly the academic advisor to the ABT/NYU Ballet Pedagogy Program. She mentors the NYU dance education program student leadership team, working with them and with faculty colleagues to promote enhanced understanding of diversity and inclusion. Cohen develops and teaches courses for the National Dance Education Organization’s (NDEO) Online Professional Development Institute, including the Professional Teaching Standards for Dance Arts, Dance History: Global, Cultural and Historical Considerations, and several mini courses. Cohen presents regularly at NDEO and Dance for the Child International (daCi) conferences. Her 2018 presentation at the 2nd ICONDE conference in Malaysia has also been accepted for publication in the upcoming Spirit of Creativity in Dance Education book. Cohen contributed two chapters to the recent book, Jazz Dance: A History of Roots and Branches, edited by Guarino and Oliver. She was a co-creator of NDEO’s 2016 and 2019 special topics Jazz Dance conference, which were based conceptually on the book and on contemporary issues in jazz dance. She contributed to and serves on the editorial board of NDEO’s Dance Education in Practice journal. A founding member of NDEO, Cohen recently completed her term of office on the NDEO Board of Directors. She received the 2011 NDEO Leadership Award.


Mariana Ranz

Mariana Ranz is originally from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, where she began her ballet training. At the age of 18, Ms. Ranz relocated to the United States to pursue her higher education studies. She attended the University of California, Irvine and graduated with a B.A. in Dance and a B.A. in Psychology and Social Behaviors.  In 2012 Ms. Ranz was accepted with a partial scholarship into New York University Steinhardt Dance Education Program and graduated in 2014 with a Masters of Art for Teaching Dance in the Professions: American Ballet Theatre (ABT) Pedagogy. She is an ABT® Certified Teacher in Pre-Primary through Level Seven of the ABT® National Training Curriculum.

Ms. Ranz is a passionate dancer, dance educator and artist. As part of her career development, she traveled to Uganda in 2014 where she had the opportunity to collaborate with Ugandan dance educators from Makerere University and the Kampala Ballet and Modern Dance School. In her efforts to give back to her community, Ms. Ranz has taught several workshops, master classes and professional development workshops for dancers and dance educators in her home country.  Ms. Ranz’s experience includes teaching in private and public schools, dance studios and non-profit dance organizations. Throughout her career she has served on the dance faculties of American Ballet Theatre, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Hunter College Elementary School and The Spence School, as well as several dance studios, community centers and non-profit organizations. She is currently working at Ballet Hispánico as the Community Arts Partnerships Program Manager.


Adelheid Strelick

Adelheid B. Strelick, Assistant Professor of Dance at Adelphi University, received her MA from the American Ballet Theatre (ABT) program at New York University, and is an ABT® National Training Curriculum Certified Teacher (Primary – Level 7, including Partnering). She received her BFA in Dance from the University of Music and Performing Arts, Frankfurt, Germany. A Soloist for 14 years with the ballet company of the Theater Ulm, Germany. She performed in classical/contemporary ballets choreographed by former members of William Forsythe’s Ballet Frankfurt and others. Besides performing in Tanztheater, musical, opera, operetta, and theater pieces, she choreographed for the ballet, opera, and acting companies of the Theater, including musicals and its outreach programs. She has also taught at the ABT/NYU MA program, Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH), and Paul Taylor Dance Company (PTDC), as well as at the ABT, DTH, and PTDC summer programs. As a member of the National Dance Education Organization, CORPS de Ballet International, and Dance Studies Association, she contributes to the dance community in a scholarly fashion with presentations/workshops at conferences.