My involvement and interest in dance and music has kept me in the arts since childhood. From arts management duties to teaching, performing, and research, I have been involved in various facets of the arts for my entire life. Primarily self employed, I have self-taught experience with promotions, public relations, management, marketing, sales, and web design and maintenance. I also have experience with research, writing, proofreading, and editing, and minimal experience with fundraising and grant writing. I also have administration experience, both from doing my own work, and from part time jobs at various companies and for temporary agencies.
I teach dance at various venues around the DC area, focusing primarily on Tap, Irish Step dance, and Ballroom dance of various kinds, including swing, waltz, tango, and latin dances. I also teach historical and folk couple dances (i.e.: one-step, fox-trot, hambo, schottische and waltz variations). I research, choreograph, teach, and manage Centuries Historical Dance, a performance company for the preservation and presentation of historical social dance.
I am currently transitioning my career from performance and teaching to primarily promotions and administration.
I grew up in New York with my wonderful parents, Amy, a cellist and teacher, and Raoul, a band director, historian and teacher. Growing up, I learned arts management tasks while assisting my parents, as librarian for my father's symphonic band, and helping my mother run string quartet concerts. They instilled in me a love and respect for music and the arts.
I studied music, both vocal and instrumental, taking piano lessons as a child, playing percussion in my father's Symphonic Band as a teenager, and majoring in Voice at the LaGuardia High School of Music and the Arts in New York. I began studying dance of various kinds at age 5, beginning with Ballet. When I was eight, my parents took me to Pinewoods Camp in Massachusetts, where I got my first taste of traditional music and dance, including English and American Country dancing, Morris and Sword dances, clogging, and couple dancing. Having caught the traditional dance bug, I attended Pinewoods every year for almost 20 years. When I was old enough, I worked at Pinewoods, gathering as much information as I could and dancing as much as possible. I worked there three times, in 1986, 1988, and 1992.
I attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, getting a BFA degree in Musical Theatre (1988). In my senior year, I worked at WCBN, the Radio Station on Campus as a DJ, sometimes doing special shows on folk and classical music. I also worked part time at the local classical music record store, SKR Classical (SchoolKids Records).
Upon graduating, I moved to Boston, MA, and worked as Vocals, Children's, Comedy, and Spoken Word Buyer for Tower Records in Cambridge, while dancing with Ha'Penny Morris, Orion Sword, and the Commonwealth Vintage Dancers. I also performed doing musicals with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Musical Theatre Guild (MTG), and did choreography and direction with MTG and other groups in Boston.
In 1996, I got an offer to join Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble, a performance company specializing in Appalachian Clogging, based in Annapolis, MD. I moved to Baltimore and studied and performed with the company for eight months.
After leaving the company, I performed in the 1897 Social Dance Exhibition in the Great Hall, demonstrating dances from the 1890s in celebration of the reopening of the Jefferson Building at the Library of Congress in Washington DC. The event was choreographed by Elizabeth Aldrich, and clips can be seen on the Library's website of American dance manuals: http://loc.gov/
I returned to school in 1998 at American University, earning a Masters Degree in Dance in May 2000 after the completion of my thesis lecture / performance, What Goes Around, Comes Around. The performance is a comparison between the Cancan and the Charleston, complete with a lecture component, and dances, costumes, sets and music. If you'd like to know more about the production or see a copy of the video, contact me at renee at wunderland dot com.
Since graduating, I have been teaching part time at various studios and universities around the area, including Montgomery College, American University, Northern Virginia Community College, Backstage Studio in Columbia, Knock on Wood Studio and Imagination Stage. I perform with the tap company Tappening, under the direction of Heidi Schultz, and with the group PedAntics. In January 2001, I founded my own group for historical social dance called Centuries Historical Dance.
I have done research on dance, and have written articles for presentation and publication. I have recently written several articles for a series of encyclopedias for High school students, published by the Brown Reference Group, in Surrey, England. Follow the links below for samples of my writing.
I recently got married to a wonderful man named Alex, an illustrator, graphic designer, game designer and dancer who is also a member of Centuries. We were married in May 2004 in the ballroom in our house in College Park, MD. We continue to hold monthly dances for our friends. We own three cats, Tiger, Sebastian and Sid.