Shenandoah Conservatory has appointed Laurie M. Taylor, B.S., as visiting assistant professor of modern dance beginning August 2017.
“I’m thrilled that Ms. Taylor will be joining our dance faculty,” said Shenandoah Conservatory Dean and Professor of Music Michael Stepniak, Ed.D. “An unusually expressive artist, she brings not only tremendous creative energy and keen insight, but also infectious passion to her dancing and teaching.”
Taylor is a New York-based professional dancer and choreographer specializing in modern/contemporary dance (Graham/Horton/Dunham-based), dance styles from the African diaspora movement (Liberian, Sene-Gambian, Caribbean, Latin), jazz dance (African American vernacular movement traditions and social dances), musical theater, hip hop and more. Her unique training and experiences led her to establish Soul Movement, a dance company with a mission to create innovative, influential dance content and performance experiences that attract, impact and inspire newer, diverse audiences. Since its inception in 2013, Soul Movement has performed at the American Dance Guild Festival, The Association of Performing Arts Presenters Conference (APAP), Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Central Park Summerstage, The Harlem Arts Festival, Aaron Davis Hall/Harlemstage, Red Hook Festival, The Moonwalk for Breast Cancer and more.
“The Dance Division is excited to have Laurie join our faculty this year,” said Dance Division Chair and Assistant Professor of Dance Maurice Fraga, M.F.A. “She offers a dynamic blend of intense dance technique and intellectual and socio-political awareness. Her sophistication and discipline within modern, jazz and African dance training will stimulate and push our students into a more reflective place about their own technical and creative work, serving as an agent of change that allows our students to think more about how dance fits into today’s society.”
Taylor recently received a 2016 Mertz Gilmore Foundation grant and is a two-time Jerome Foundation Fund for New Work Awardee and recipient of the RAW! Artist Award for Best Performing Artist in 2012. A dancer of Liberian-American descent, Taylor brings her fresh fusion of contemporary, jazz, Afrobeat and street styles together, forming a global sensibility that has earned her proclamations from the Liberian Humanitarian Awards and the Shirley Chisholm Women of Excellence Awards by New York State Senator Jesse Hamilton.
With her focus on diversity and greater access for women of color in the arts, Taylor received a 2012 Diversity Initiative Grant from the University of Delaware as Artist-in-Residence. Her groove-based sense of musicality has led to live collaborations with Darin Atwater’s Soulful Symphony and Grammy Award-winning Blue Note recording artist Derrick Hodge. She has also choreographed for a number of indie artists, created fitness choreography and served as a creative consultant to Berklee Performing Arts Center, choreographing and staging for Valerie Simpson (of Ashford and Simpson) and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin.
Taylor appeared in the off-Broadway production of “The Legend of Yauna,” produced and directed by Tony Award-winner Maija Garcia of “FELA! The Concert” on Broadway, The Classical Theater of Harlem’s “Macbeth,” as well as on BRAVO! Network/Toronto, Canada. She has performed on stages in the United States and around the world, including Euro Disney Paris, The Joyce Theater, The Strathmore Symphony Hall, The Prudential Center and most recently at Madison Square Garden with Hillsong Creative.
An avid arts educator, Taylor has taught masterclasses at Hunter College, University of Minnesota, New York University, Dwana Smallwood Performing Arts Center, and the Ailey/Fordham B.F.A Program, among others.
She received a Bachelor of Science in Journalism with a minor in dance from Howard University in Washington, D.C., and a Certificate of Dance Training and Development from the Professional Program at the Ballet Creole School of Performing Arts in Toronto, Canada.
Taylor’s appointment to this one-year visiting position precedes a fall search for a full-time career contract appointment, for which she will be enthusiastically invited to apply.