Dance Council of North Texas Announces 2015 Dance Council Honors Awardees

Dance Council of North Texas (DCNT) is proud to announce the 2015 Dance Council Honors that will take place on September 6, 2015 at the Dallas City Performance Hall as part of the second annual Dallas DanceFest, September 4-6, 2015.

The afternoon will begin with a reception and silent auction at 2:00 p.m. followed by a program at 3 p.m. that includes performances by 2015 DCNT Scholarship Recipients, professional dance companies, the Honors award presentation, and a silent auction. Tickets will be available in August.

For 27 years, DCNT has selected individuals whose passion and commitment to the dance community have greatly impacted the art form in North Texas. This year DCNT will honor seven individuals. Each of the awards memorializes a talented and prestigious person in our dance community.

The 2015 Dance Council Honorees are as follows:

Pat and Tanju Tuzer ~ Tuzer Dancenter and Tuzer Ballet

Mary McLarry Bywaters Award for Lifetime Achievement in Dance

Founders of both a local ballet school and a pre-professional company, this couple has had a profound influence on many students aiming for a performance career. Patricia (Machette) Tuzer was born in Dallas where she began her studies at age three. During her early teens, she received scholarships to study with the New York City, Joffrey, and Harkness Ballets, joining the latter's New York company at 18, where she danced as both soloist and principal dancer. It was during her tenure with Harkness in 1973 that she met and later married, fellow company principal, Tanju Tuzer. He was already establishing a career that would take them across Europe to dance leading roles with major companies, including Hamburg Ballet. Tanju is from Istanbul, Turkey where, at age nine, he began his dance training at the Ankara State Conservatory. At 18, he joined the Turkish Ballet and continued his studies with a scholarship to the Royal Ballet in London, later dancing in Europe before moving to Harkness Ballet NY. Tanju and Patricia Tuzer opened their first ballet school, the Tuzer School of Ballet, in 1977. In 1985, as their reputation spread and enrollment grew, they designed and constructed a new facility in Richardson, where they remain the principal teachers. For 30 years, students of Tuzer Dancenter have danced in Tuzer-choreographed versions of classic ballets, with the annual Nutcracker always an audience favorite.

Gwen Owens ~ London School of Dance

Mary McLarry Bywaters Award for Lifetime Achievement in Dance

From having danced in musicals in the West End of London and touring throughout Britain and overseas in chorus lines, to a long-term stint in the famous line-up of the BBC Television Toppers, to founding the London School of Dance in Dallas, Gwen has always been immersed in dance. In 2016 her studio will celebrate its 50th anniversary. Gwen's lifelong affiliation with the Royal Academy of Dance in London began with studying ballet as a child in post-World War II Britain and later, incorporating its exacting standards as the foundation of her school. Tap training with the Imperial Society Teachers of Dance is reflected in Gwen's sparkling choreography. Her students can be seen performing all year at different DCNT community events, such as Dance Planet and National Tap Dance Celebration. For over 15 years, Gwen has acted as children's coordinator for the Moscow Ballet Company's production of The Nutcracker in Dallas. For 25 years, Gwen has been a certified member of the Texas Association of Teachers of Dancing. Her students have gone on to pursue professional careers in dance as performers, teachers, choreographers, and studio owners. Gwen's legacy is most easily seen in her daughters, Michele and Misty. Both are accomplished, professional dancers and instructors in many forms of dance, including Adaptive Dance, a program for those with physical and cognitive challenges.

Ronelle Eddings ~ Elledanceworks
Larry White Dance Educator Award

Ronelle Jock Eddings, co-founder and co-artistic director of Elledanceworks, is an outstanding dance educator bringing her professional career into the dance classroom. She earned a BFA in Dance Education and an MEd in Secondary Education from Arizona State University. In Arizona she was assistant director, contributing choreographer, and performer in The Movement Source Dance Company, Inc. Since coming to Dallas in 1996, Ronelle has been a vital participant in the dance community. She has served on the executive committee of DCNT as Vice President of both Membership and Volunteer Committees. Locally, she has performed as a member of NOVA Dancing Company and as an independent artist. Ronelle's choreography has been commissioned locally and nationally. An exemplary educator, Ronelle has taught at Collin College, University of Texas Dallas, and T. C. Marsh Middle School. In all, she has been teaching in public schools for over 22 years. In her twelfth year at Creekview High School, she is Fine Arts Department Manager, and director of both the dance department as well as the Moving Ground Dance Company.

Susan Savarese ~ W. E. Greiner Middle School

Larry White Dance Educator Award

Susan Savarese has been a dedicated dance educator in the Dallas area for the last 25 years. Providing a means for self-expression inspires her work. Susan began dancing at age three and decided to teach to share her love for personal expression through dance. Susan completed her Master of Fine Arts degree in Dance and Related Arts at Texas Woman's University, Denton Texas and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance and Liberal Arts at Rutgers University-Mason Gross School of the Arts in New Jersey. She has taught, danced, and performed at Rutgers University, Texas Woman's University, Collin County Community College, Dance Express and private dance studios. She co-owned Dance Depot in Plano, Texas and taught at Stevens Park Elementary School. Susan has many dance interests but places special focus on the dance program and dance students at W. E. Greiner Middle School and Academy for the Exploratory Arts, where she has taught for the last 15 years. Her dancers have been invited to perform at the South Dallas Cultural Center, TAHPERD conventions, and with NOVA Dancing Company.

Shalini Varghese Chandragiri ~ Arathi School of Dance

Natalie Skelton Award for Artistic Excellence

Shalini is a powerful artist of the exquisite and intricate classical Indian dance, Bharata Natyam. She began dancing at the Arathi School of Dance under guru, Revathi Satyu, at the age of five performing in various legendary dance dramas with the school. She has trained intensively with other accomplished gurus, including the legendary Padma Bushans-The Dhananjayans, Padma Shri Adayar K. Lakshman, Priyadarsini Govind, Padma Bushan Kalanidhi Narayanan, Padmini Ravi, and Nirupama and Rajendra. Shalini made her arangetram (debut) in Bharata Natyam in 1997. She has performed extensively in the United States, internationally and, in 2004, was formally presented in India. Shalini is a founding member of Indique Dance Company, whose mission is to take Indian classical dance in contemporary creative directions. The Arathi School of Dance has always been Shalini's home. She has been teaching there for many years. Her students have performed widely within the DFW Metroplex. Ten of her students have completed their arangetram. Shalini serves on the board of the Indian Cultural Heritage Foundation, a non-profit organization that promotes intercultural awareness through workshops and performances.

Tony Tucci ~ Independent Lighting Designer
Mary Warner Award for Service to Dance

Tony Tucci's brilliant lighting designs have enhanced the visual drama and beauty of productions worldwide. Residing in Austin, Tony has been resident lighting designer for Stephen Mills' Ballet Austin repertory for over 25 years. He is currently also resident lighting designer for Ben Stevenson's Texas Ballet Theater and Bruce Wood Dance Project. Other companies include Mejia International Ballet, Washington Ballet, Houston Dance Salad, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Colorado Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, and Cirque Ziva, the Golden Dragon Acrobats. Past designs include University of Texas Opera productions and Austin musicals, such as Damn Yankees, Carousel, West Side Story, Annie, Gypsy, Jesus Christ Superstar, Music Man, and others. Tony has received two B. Iden Payne Awards, and Critics Table awards for lighting in Austin. He designed Charles Duggan's productions of Dames at Sea in San Francisco and at the Goodspeed Opera House. For the 1996 Summer Olympics, his designs for the Cultural Olympiad showcased six national and international companies. He has worked with National Ballet of Canada, Royal Danish, Winnipeg, Hong Kong, and Swedish Ballet companies as well as Singapore Dance Theatre, Ballet Contemporaneo de Caracas, and Christopher Bruce's Kingdom-Geneva Ballet, Flemming Flindt's Caroline Mathilde and Lucifer's Daughter for the Royal Danish Ballet.

Lane Alexander ~ Chicago Human Rhythm Project
Buster Cooper Tap Legend

Lane Alexander, Chicago Human Rhythm Project's co-founder and artistic director, is a pioneer in the tap dance community. He helped form the first presenting institution in the United States dedicated to American tap and contemporary percussive arts, the American Rhythm Center in Chicago. Within his long dance career, Lane performed Morton Gould's Tap Dance Concerto at Carnegie Hall, at Royal Festival Hall and Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall, among others. He co-directed the Emmy nominated PBS/ITVS documentary, JUBA! Masters of Tap and Percussive Dance. Lane produced the first full-length tap concert at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and directs the tap/percussive dance ensemble, BAM!, which represented the United States at the 5th Beijing Contemporary Dance Festival in Caracas and toured for Lincoln Center's regional jazz program. He received an NEA American Masterpieces grant, the Ruth Page Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Field, the Chicago Dance and Music Alliance Award for Outstanding Solo Performance, and a Chicago Dancemakers Forum Award. Lane is a faculty member and senior advisor to the Beijing Contemporary Music Academy, the American Rhythm Center, and has taught at Northwestern University, Columbia College, and University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Lane serves on the board of the International Tap Association.

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