If you haven’t heard of her by now, it’s time to come out from under that rock and recognize the incredible force Alicia Graf Mack has been in the dance world. As an elite dancer, she has been a member of world class companies like Dance Theatre of Harlem and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. As a businesswoman, she received a Masters degree in nonprofit management and co-founded D(n)A Arts Collective. As an educator of higher learning, she instructs regularly as professor at University of Houston and Webster University. After demonstrating excellence in a range of fields, she is once again reaching deeper and further into the dance community and bringing together administration and arts as the newly appointed Director of the Juilliard Dance Division in New York City, a role she begins this month. It’s exciting to see such a talented, educated, brilliant woman take on this role and provide direct influence on the development of this storied program shaping exceptional collegiate dancers. Dance Informa asked Graf Mack just a few questions to see what she has in store.
What is one new thing or one big update you plan to implement at Juilliard?
“It is important that the Dance Division continues to push the envelope of innovation and creativity forward into the 21st century. Toward that end, I have invited guest teachers, along with our esteemed faculty, to expose our students to the changing landscape of the field of dance. Juilliard dancers are not only incredible technicians and artists, but they are poised to change the world. Every decision coming from the dance administration is guided by principles of individual and community empowerment.”
You’ve already had several careers and positions, including working as a dance educator. What helped you make the decision to move into this position in dance education administration?
“Although my life has not taken on any sort of linear path, hindsight allows me to look back and connect the dots that led me to an administrative position at Juilliard. While performing with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, I took an interest in arts administration because of the transformative, inspiring work of Ailey’s former Executive Director, Sharon Luckman. I pursued a master’s degree in nonprofit management to further my understanding of the arts, business and service. I have absolutely loved my life as a dancer and an educator, and joining Juilliard in this capacity perfectly ties together all of my experiences and interests.”
Will you continue to find yourself in the studio, or is the desk your new stage?
“I could never sit behind a desk day in and day out! I am made to move! I think better, and can connect with my students on a deeper level when we are in the studio working toward a common goal. This semester, I will be teaching a few ballet classes. I am performing at the Vail Dance Festival in August, so preparing for that, while starting this new job at Juilliard, literally keeps me on my toes.”
What direction do you want to see dance at Juilliard heading in the next five years?
“I am an advocate for diversity in dance on many fronts, including racial and cultural diversity, and recognizing various genres and styles of dance. I want our students to graduate from a program that reflects and acknowledges the many facets of the arts and the people who make up our local and global communities. This is how we will continue to set trends in arts education and excel in the industry – leading with creativity and empathy.”
By Leigh Schanfein of Dance Informa.