Bringing Real-World Expertise Into the Classroom

Associate Professor of Dance Alissa Cardone reflects on how she empowers students with the knowledge and sense of artistic identity critical to launching dynamic careers.

March 20, 2023

Alissa Cardone teaches her students that collaboration and creative thinking are keys to success for a professional dancer.

“My students will have to be entrepreneurs just like I have been,” she says. “Dance is not a profession with a prescribed path. Everyone has to carve their own. That’s what I’ve had to do and continue to do, and I tend to share the truth with them about that.”

Her most recent work is with the Mobius Artists Group in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a multidisciplinary arts collective creating original work in all media. Cardone encourages her students to look outside of dance for inspiration and ideas, and she continually reminds them that the job that is right for them may not yet exist, so they should invent that job and convince someone to hire them to do it. “That's the work that has purpose and meaning,” she says.

In June 2022, Cardone choreographed the Baroque opera Venus & Adonis by John Blow (composed in 1683) for the Cambridge Chamber Ensemble. She embraced the challenge of crafting contemporary movement for what would have been traditional dance “breaks” that were integral to Baroque operas—for example, sourcing movement from Butoh, a form of Japanese contemporary dance in which she has trained. In another recent project, she collaborated with Boston Conservatory students on a work that included contemporary staging that used the whole space—staircases, balconies, aisles—for the action. “I adore my students,” says Cardone. “For young artists, many of them are so capable and mature. I loved getting to work with them on a real production and seeing them grow in that process.”