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Irene Dowd awarded Honorary Fellowship

Tue 20 November 2018

Recognising Irene Dowd’s significant contributions to the field of dance science, Trinity Laban has awarded the anatomist, educator, movement practitioner and scholar an Honorary Fellowship.

Since 1995, Irene has taught at the Juilliard School, where she has had a profound impact on generations of leading dance artists. She has maintained a practice in kinesthetic anatomy and neuromuscular re-education since 1968 and her textbook Taking Root to Fly (1981) acts as a primary reference for educators worldwide. She has also undertaken studies into the impact of her work on the health and wellbeing of other populations.

The citation, read by Trinity Laban’s Head of Dance Science Professor Emma Redding, included the following tribute –

“With this Honorary fellowship Trinity Laban recognises the contribution Irene has made and the influence she has had on the education the Conservatoire offers, not only through her writing but through educating others who have come to us. This really is testament to the impact of her work.

She has inspired in others a love for science as a co-partner with art in understanding movement. We now see new and exciting collaborations across what were once seen as almost incompatible ways of knowing. We have Irene to thank for her vision in bringing together, separate, independent disciplines.

Irene has been a mentor to so many great dance figures and is an inspiration to us all.”

On receiving the fellowship, Irene Dowd commented –

 “Thank you so much for this honour – I’m quite overwhelmed. Listening to this citation, I was thinking – who is this Irene Dowd that you are talking about!? But I’ll keep doing what I do!

Being in the role of a teacher for fifty years has actually been a commitment to learning from my own students. And in fact the students who have taught me the most are the ones who are the most apparently dissimilar to me: people who are visibly diverse, who are performing different dance forms, who are making different assumptions about the nature of reality. And I believe that by engaging with the mysterious, the unknown –  and perhaps the uncomfortable – we find ourselves expanding the field of scientific investigation and understanding, while also enhancing our choreographic and performance potential. In my opinion, this kind of pursuit can only enhance our creativity and our humanity within the vast, wonderful world of dance.”

Irene received the award on 18 November 2018 in a ceremony at the Juilliard School during Trinity Laban’s visit to New York, attend by Trinity Laban’s Director of Dance Mirella Bartrip, Assistant Director of Music and Head of Programmes David Bahanovich and various alumni.

On the event, Principal Anthony Bowne commented –

“I am particularly grateful to our friends and colleagues at the Juilliard School for hosting our reception in New York. This marks the beginning of an ongoing relationship between the two Conservatoires.”

Trinity Laban Honorary Fellowships are awarded each year to distinguished artists, practitioners, educators and professionals in the fields of the performing arts and education. Previous recipients have included choreographers such as Sir Matthew Bourne, Emma Gladstone and William Forsythe, and musicians such as Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE, Sir Edward Downes and Ravi Shankar, and leaders in the arts such as Jude Kelly CBE, Rosemary Squire OBE, and Sir Cameron Mackintosh.

For more information see

Image: Professor Emma Redding, Irene Dowd, Mirella Bartrip (credit Martha Orgles)