The Juilliard School’s Dance Division was established in 1951 during William Schuman’s tenure as the School’s president. Its first director was Martha Hill, who exerted a profound influence on the development of modern dance in the United States. She assembled a faculty that included some of the greats in modern dance, among them José Limón (seen above teaching a class in 1959) and Martha Graham. Under Hill, the School became the first major teaching institution to offer dance instruction with an equal emphasis on both modern and ballet techniques—at the time, a revolutionary idea in dance education!
Hill became the artistic director emeritus with the appointment of Muriel Topaz as director in 1985, and remained artistic director emeritus until her death in 1995 at the age of 94. In 1992, Benjamin Harkarvy, well known as the founder of the Netherlands Dance Theater and the former artistic director of the Royal Winnipeg, Dutch National, Harkness, and Pennsylvania Ballet companies, became the artistic director of the division. Mr. Harkarvy died in March 2002. The Division’s current artistic director is Lawrence Rhodes, an internationally known ballet dancer and administrator who previously served as director of the dance department at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.