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Aug 20, 2019

This week on 5.6.7.EIGHT, Aleksandra interviews Cory-Jeanne Houck-Cox, a choreographer, teacher, regional and national dance adjudicator, and retired prima ballerina. During her run as a ballerina, Cory-Jeanne gained recognition nationally and internationally, having performed for American presidents and having co-created and performed award-winning pieces for the Kennedy Center. Houck-Cox’s true passion is in educating others to love the art of dance, having served as a teaching artist or adjunct faculty at several institutes of higher education. She is now heavily involved in the National Dance Education Organization, working to offer professional development opportunities for dance teachers.

On the podcast, Cory-Jeanne lays out her entire ballet career, from her late start as a ballet dancer to the day she accepted that life without dancing was okay. Along the journey, she shares life lessons that she picked up from the art, including how to appropriately accept criticism and how to push through difficulty. One thing that becomes abundantly clear is Houck-Cox’s love of education, and on the podcast, she details how she is furthering dance education across the world and even gives some practical advice on how, from her experience, to best teach dance to the younger generation.


Moving Quotes:

“Whether my students make it as dancers or even choose to be dancers, it doesn’t matter as long as they have a love of dance."

“You have to have a fairly thick skin to be able to deal with the [dance] critiques because… there are times when the teacher would say something, and you’d just want to go in a corner and cry… But they would look at me and say, ’That’s your homework.’"

“It wasn’t just going into the studio and walking away. It’s a completely different way of life… ‘Okay, how can I make myself better? How can I become better at what I’m trying to achieve?’ It’s constant improvement in your craft."

“With the Internet and Instagram, it’s completely changed the process of how kids process dance, in my opinion."

“The hardest moment [of retiring from dance] was being able to say, ‘Okay, I’m able to do this and find happiness in another area of my life that doesn’t require me to necessarily dance… That was a defining moment in my life."

“It’s a total package — of being able to have your own self-protection, to be strong enough to take what comes at you. But at the same time, pliable enough to take the corrections and be able to allow yourself the freedom to move in the ways that they are asking. But at the same time, realizing how did they do it before [in the history of ballet] and why and how can I improve upon it."

Bullet Points (w/ timestamps) - Highlighting key topics discussed:

4:19: Cory-Jeanne describes how her late introduction to ballet turned into a passion worth pursuing with her entire life.

10:38: Cory-Jeanne shares some life lessons that she learned while taking dance classes and living on her own early in life, including the importance of being receptive of criticism.

14:29: Cory-Jeanne explains how she gracefully managed the change from prima ballerina to teacher and learned to be okay moving forward in a life without dancing.

17:50: Houck-Cox describes an extremely difficult time in her life where she was plagued by injuries and how she used determination to fight through feelings of self-pity and overcome odds.

21:09: Houck-Cox discusses an activity where she’s become involved, featuring choreographers from all different genres of dance, coming together to create a set of shared performances.

23:35: Cory-Jeanne speaks on another passion of hers — writing — and shares how one of her two screenplays made it to the finals of the Sundance Screen Writers Lab.

24:42: Cory-Jeanne describes a piece of choreography she created surrounding the incredible story of her mother that has turned into a full ballet and is garnering awards and praise.

27:26: Cory-Jeanne discusses how she takes pride in helping student gain and maintain a love of dance.

28:36: Houck-Cox describes how she is working to open up the door for more professional development opportunities for dance teachers.

31:29: Houck-Cox shares what’s next for her life and expresses a desire to foster more collaboration in the dance world.

Bullet List of Resources – 

Cory-Jeanne Houck-Cox