Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; Photo by Serena SY Hsu
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; Photo by Serena SY Hsu

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Day in the Life of Dance: Behind the Byline — Henning Rübsam on Writing for The Dance Enthusiast

Day in the Life of Dance: Behind the Byline — Henning Rübsam on Writing for The Dance Enthusiast

Published on May 14, 2019
Photos by Antonio Yussif

TDE: How did you start working for The Dance Enthusiast?

Henning Rübsam: Being a choreographer and dancer, I had written for a handful of publications over the years, including Ballet Review, Pointe, Dance Magazine, the European Dance For You, and had been editor for the Stern's Performing Arts Directory and managing editor for the Dance Magazine College Guide (before DM had temporarily relocated its headquarters to California). Then one day I took the opportunity and wrote a very long "audience review" about a New York City Ballet season in which I also previewed an upcoming one. Not having a word count limit gave me the freedom to get into detail about how certain dancers explore and examine movement. Shortly after I submitted my review online, Christine contacted me and asked me to join The Dance Enthusiast as a paid contributor. 

TDE: How long have you been working for The Dance Enthusiast?

Henning Rübsam: My first official review for TDE was published in October 2012:

TDE: What do like about writing for The Dance Enthusiast?

Henning Rübsam: It seems to me that at The Dance Enthusiast we get to be champions of the dance world. We try to foster and grow an audience rather than entertain our readers at the expense of dancers and choreographers.

I love being able to suggest events that deserve coverage and enjoy having friendly debates with my editor-in-chief, Christine Jowers, about trends and treasures in the dance world. I also cherish being heard when a paragraph that was cut simply NEEDS to be included. And speaking of cherishing a treasure: I have learned and continue to gain from editor and fellow writer Robert Johnson, whose suggestions and corrections make my writing dance on the page. I would like to express my sincere and heartfelt gratitude for this working relationship.

TDE: What are your favorite stories?

Henning Rübsam: There are so many talented writers with different outlooks at TDE that it is always worth browsing the current site for reviews, interviews, and other features. 

When I look back at my own writing over the years, I would like to pick three differing articles. One announcing a new beginning, one lamenting an end, and one celebrating a thoughtful and articulate voice belonging to an elegant dancer who sports an equally articulate pair of legs.

A bright new beginning: I fondly remember the truly enthusiastic feedback I got for my review of Dance Theatre of Harlem just after their first season in 2013 following a multi-year hiatus.

A most memorable farewell: The New York stop of Sylvie Guillem's swan song as a dancer in November 2015 gave me the opportunity to appreciate her singular career in an extensive review that garnered appreciation from around the globe.

A noble young artist: Joseph Gordon was candid, generous and gracious when I interviewed him for a recent December 2018 feature. His honesty struck a chord with many readers.

TDE: What's on the horizon for you?

Henning Rübsam: My dance company SENSEDANCE first performed in 1992 and I have had the good fortune of presenting my work internationally ever since, either touring with my dancers or creating on other companies. An especially fond and very recent memory is working with students of the Ailey/Fordham BFA program who dove into being SHOALMATES in November 2018.

In 2006 I implemented a dance history and dance appreciation program for the general public at my alma mater Juilliard, where I continue to enjoy lecturing, teaching, and sharing my enthusiasm for dance. I take my board member duties for the two foundations that celebrate the legacies of Beverly Blossom and Martha Hill just as seriously as when I produce select events such as the "Radical Bodies" (Halprin, Forti, Rainer) performance at Hunter's Kaye Playhouse. Incidentally it is at Hunter College where I earned my master's degree in dance education. On occasion I also contribute to other publications, including The Hudson Review, a quarterly journal of literature and the arts. 

Follow Henning on Instagram: @sensedancer

Read more features by Henning HERE


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