Ailey Head Offers Insight


Published: April 17, 2008

With graduation quickly approaching, the graduating seniors of the Ailey/Fordham BFA program are preparing to test their dance skills in the real world.  Some members of the class are already working with professional companies, while others are still trying to find the dance job that is right for them. The Observer spoke with Ana Marie Forsythe, the co-director of the Ailey/Fordham BFA program, to get her take on this year’s graduating class.

The Observer: How do you feel about the graduating Ailey class as a whole?

Ana Marie Forsythe: They are a very talented group of dancers who have been intellectually engaged in the Fordham activities as well as in the pursuit of a dance career.

The Observer: How has the Fordham education, as far as their work with the core and if they are doing a second major or minor, helped them along with the dance program?

AMF: Well, I think that one of the benefits of this Ailey/Fordham BFA program is that the students are able to do both things—to be fully engaged in the academic side [as well as the dance side].  I know that we have one student who is doing a second major, and it means that she will do an extra semester in the fall.  We also have a number of students who [are pursuing] academic minors, which takes a lot of effort for the dancers because they have such a busy studio schedule that it is really a labor of love for them to take the extra academic courses to get to the minor.

The Observer: As far as the level that the students are at, do you feel that company work is a good
move for them?

AMF: Absolutely.  Two of the seniors are already performing with professional companies.  Josiah Guitian was asked to join Jennifer Muller/The Works in [May of last year]. He has been dancing and touring with them and has been able to complete his BFA requirements and will graduate with his class.  We also have India Bolds, who has just joined the Elisa Monte Dance company, and she will, again, graduate with her class.  It’s wonderful that they already have jobs.  I have four other dancers in the senior class who are apprenticing with companies and often apprenticeships lead to a job once there is an opening in the company. So these dancers will work, absolutely.

The Observer: Do you think any of them are interested in doing some Broadway work, or is company work their main focus?

AMF: I know that many of them are going to commercial and Broadway auditions, and so far I haven’t heard anything from the senior class; but a couple of the juniors have been offered contracts for a production of “West Side Story” that’s happening.  But I haven’t heard anything about the seniors, but I know they are auditioning for that kind of work.

The Observer: How do you think this year’s graduating class differs from previous classes?

AMF: They are very individual, and they are all interested in different things.  More of them are doing academic minors than some of our previous classes.  But they are fully engaged in both parts of this education that we offer at the Ailey/Fordham program.  A number of them have [participated] in Global Outreach and have continued that work through teaching while here in New York.