Ian Spencer Bell
Choreographer Ian Spencer Bell was working in the education department at American Ballet Theatre when he realized he wanted to go back to school.
"Sarah Lawrence seemed like the right school for me," says Ian, who attended North Carolina School of the Arts and studied at School of American Ballet and Pacific Northwest Ballet.
Since becoming a student at Sarah Lawrence, he has published two essays on dance, which he wrote in conference with poetry professor Neil Arditi, and revised his memoir with historian Lyde Cullen-Sizer and fiction writer Mary LaChapelle. He also has received a tremendous amount of encouragement and support from Dance Program director Sara Rudner, and continues to dance and show his work in the city.
"That’s what’s unique about a Sarah Lawrence education," says Ian. "The teachers care deeply about you and your work."
Although he admits it is difficult going to school full-time, working part-time—he is an artist-in-residence at the Nightingale-Bamford School—and rehearsing, Ian credits his work at Sarah Lawrence as an inspiration for his teaching and dance-making.
"I have found myself writing notes on dance composition in the margins of books on the Spanish Civil War and Italian Renaissance painting," says Ian. "It's all practice—and one informs the other."
He hopes to pursue a graduate degree in the future.
"It will be difficult to find another school—a group of academics and artists—that is as committed to rigorous intellectual inquiry as it is to service and compassion," says Ian. "I told this to an old dancer friend I ran into on Metro North the other day. ‘It sounds like utopia,’ she said."
"It is," he says. "It's better than the Met."
Photo credit: Kyle Froman