As a dancer with the Mark Morris Dance Group for more than 20 years, Lauren Grant received a New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” award. As a second-year student in Montclair State’s MFA program in dance, she recently received a 2017-2018 American Association of University Women (AAUW) Career Development Award.
The award, from one of the world’s largest educational funding programs for women, helps women like Grant who are preparing to advance or change their careers. “I’m using it to pay for my final two semesters – fall 2017 and spring 2018 – and to cover some childcare costs for my 5-year-old son,” says Grant, who previously received a Sono Osato scholarship, named for the iconic dancer, that helped defray her summer 2017 tuition.
“These are very prestigious awards,” says Theatre and Dance Professor and Montclair State Director of Dance Lorraine Katterhenry. “I think Lauren’s awards reflect very positively on the quality of the students in the MFA program.”
Grant decided to enroll as a member of the first cohort in the University’s low-residency MFA program because she wanted to broaden her perspective of the field after performing and teaching for the Mark Morris Dance Group for 21 years. “I was ready to equip myself to contribute valuable insights into the field and stand as a leader poised to help shape the future of dance,” she explains.
The low-residency program allows her to continue to rehearse and perform with the Mark Morris Dance Group. “I serve as rehearsal director for various pieces – I set Morris’ dance Polka at Montclair State last fall,” she says. “I lead company classes, as well as ballet and modern technique classes at The School at the Mark Morris Dance Center, Jessica Lang Dance Company, Liz Gerring Dance Company, Ballet Preljocaj and at schools and universities around the globe. I also serve as a panelist for the New York State Council on the Arts.”
Grant also teaches an online Dance Appreciation course at Montclair State. “It’s a wonderful overview of dance that includes a brief history of the various genres and a look at the different artistic, technical and managerial roles in the field,” she explains.
Grant is grateful for the AAUW award, which will help her complete her degree. Appreciative of the rigorous MFA program, she notes, “It has allowed me to fully acknowledge and cultivate my natural curiosity, dedication and creativity. The MFA in Dance has been a greenhouse in which I’ve been given the tools, materials and guidance to grow in all directions.”
The program is designed especially for mid-career dance artists, teachers and professionals like Grant, who are in transition. “I feel confident that the program and degree will equip me to transition from my 21-year career dancing for Mark Morris to a faculty teaching position in a university setting, where I can guide the art form’s future custodians and continue to make valuable contributions to the field,” she says.