Kannen Glanz receives the Lorna Strassler Award for Student Excellence from “J.R.” Glover

“In 2022, I was a part of The School at Jacob’s Pillow’s Contemporary Ballet and Contemporary Performance Ensembles. It was a super unique experience; I had five weeks at the Pillow, so I had a lot of time to dive into that 91 year history, which is pretty hard to fathom. Getting to work with two different artist faculties and two different groups of dancers was a really incredible experience- to meet so many new people, build my network, and perform on the Ted Shawn and the Henry J. Leir Stage was super, super special.”

Could you share a little bit of your personal dance history/experience? 

“I first started dancing when I was five years old after watching my sister in classes at our local competition studio in Casper, Wyoming. As any classic sibling rivalry started, I thought I could be better. From that rivalry, I fell in love with movement, performing onstage for people, and being able to express myself without having to use words. At age 14, I wanted to take my training to the next level, so I relocated to Natick, Massachusetts to attend Walnut Hill School for the Arts under the direction of Michael Owen. Walnut Hill expanded my horizons to what a career in dance could look like and facilitated so much growth in my training. Upon graduation I was accepted into and began studying at The Juilliard School under the direction of Alicia Graf Mack. For the past three years, The Juilliard School has given me the space to find my artistic voice and understand my place in the world as a dancer.”

What have you been up to in the past year since your time at The School at Jacob’s Pillow?

“Since my time at the Pillow, I finished my third year at The Juilliard School! My third year was a very inspiring year as I danced in a world premiere by Jamar Roberts and Justin Peck’s In Creases, and I also choreographed a few works of my own. However, I am very excited to say that I signed my first contract with and will be joining the Second Company at Cincinnati Ballet for the 2023-24 season under the direction of Jodie Gates. I will be partaking in a professional exchange program through Juilliard which will allow me to finish my credits to receive my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree while jump starting my career with Cincinnati Ballet. Another exciting thing that happened since my time at the Pillow is that I traveled outside of the United States for the first time! I traveled to Moncalvo, Italy and partook in the Medhi Walerski Intensive Program at Orsolina28. Being able to experience dance beyond the States was incredibly insightful and fruitful for me.”


What is a specific lesson or piece of knowledge that you learned during your time at The School that has helped you move forward in your dance career?

In class with Sidra Bell; 2022 Contemporary Program

“There is a quote from Mr. Milton Myers that has stuck with me so deeply since I first heard it: “As a dancer, you have nothing to prove, only everything to share.” That piece of knowledge has helped me move forward in my dance career, because it helped me reevaluate how I presented my dancing to others. At first, I wanted to ensure that whoever I performed for saw only perfect technique and no choreographic mistakes, but now all I desire is for an audience member to simply witness the experience I am having onstage while I am dancing and connect with it emotionally. From hearing this from Mr. Myers and applying it to my performance work, I have found even more freedom and joy in performing.”

Do you have a favorite memory of your time at the Pillow?

“Participating in both the Contemporary Ballet and Contemporary Programs at the Pillow gave me five weeks full of incredible experiences; however, I think performing on the Henry J. Leir not once but twice probably takes the cake. As dancers, we use a lot of natural imagery as metaphors for understanding sensations of movement so to be able to dance on a stage surrounded by the beautiful Berkshire landscape brought all of that imagery to life for me. I think of my Graham teacher, Terese Capucilli, who often starts class by having us stand in first position swaying back and forth, telling us to imagine that we are trees sinking our roots into the Earth’s soil. It is a very unique and vitalizing experience to be able to dance on an outdoor stage with the presence of the natural world around us and not be limited to the confines of a typical proscenium theater.”

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone who is wanting to make their passion for dance a career?

“I advise those wanting to make their passion for dance a career to never stop exploring what dance can be. Dance is a never-ending, explorative experience that not one person has fully understood. There are hundreds of thousands of ideas of dance that have been presented and codified, but dance is limitless and you have the opportunity to find what it means to you. Recognizing this will give you the power to continue making dance yours even while you may be in an education, training, or company environment.”

How was your experience at The School at Jacob’s Pillow unique to your history as a dancer?

In class with Stephanie Bauger; 2022 Contemporary Ballet Program

“I think what made my Jacob’s Pillow experience so unique was how isolated it is- the Pillow has such a small, compact community of dancers. Another thing that was really special was how the faculty are both super interested in how you work as a student and also how you work as a performer. They are trying to blend both of those sides to you and find that balance, so I think that was a super interesting experience for me to have at a summer program particularly. Usually summer programs are primarily training, so to have that equal opportunity of training and performance was really special. Additionally, the mentorship here is super individual. I think because the summer programs themselves are so small (the Contemporary Ballet Program being 22 dancers and the Contemporary Program being 24) there is a lot of individual attention. That goes beyond the studio as well. We would share meals with and have individual meetings with the Program Directors to talk about our future. Both Annabelle and Milton went out of their way to get to know me and to ensure that my time here was benefitting me and ultimately progressing me in my dance education.”

How did your School Sponsor impact you as a dancer?

“I actually wouldn’t have made it here without a School Sponsor. I got to meet mine- she was a joy. A lot of School Sponsors are super integrated into the programs, just observing and getting to know the students themselves. Wendy and I had lunch one day and that was super special. We’ve stayed connected after the Pillow, too. We usually have a once-a-month dinner in New York. It’s so nice to have someone rooting for you, and not only financially supporting you but also morally supporting you on such an intensive journey that a dance career can take you on.”

How did you find out that you won the award?

“I received the Lorna Strassler Award for Student Excellence via phone call by “J.R.”. It was a wild experience, because I didn’t know about the award at first. After I learned about it, I immediately felt a deep sense of honor to be able to join a legacy of incredible dancers who were awarded for their dedication to dance and love for learning. To be a part of that is really meaningful. I met the Strassler family as well and they were absolutely wonderful. This whole experience has just been wild. I have always loved learning and dance education so to be able to be awarded for something like that is super special. It’s wild that I’m receiving this award before going into my professional role. It is that kind of right of passage before going from a student to a professional. I think it’s very meaningful to me to experience this before I go off to Cincinnati in the fall.”

This Pillow Pick was written by Bonnie Spann and published on August 16th, 2023.

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The School at Jacob's Pillow Contemporary Performance Ensemble; photo by Becca Oviatt