School of Dance

Duane Cyrus has been appointed the director for the University of Arizona School of Dance, beginning July 1. 

Cyrus has served as a professor of dance at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro since 2005 and artistic director of Theatre of Movement, an arts collaborative since 2017.

Duane Cyrus appointed School of Dance director
Duane Cyrus. Image: Mark Wagoner

He has toured internationally with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Martha Graham Dance Company, and Disney’s “The Lion King” (original London cast) among others. Cyrus holds a BFA from the Juilliard School and an MFA from the University of Illinois at Urbana.

“I am overjoyed to begin this new chapter of my career,” Cyrus said. “I am thrilled to be welcomed into the campus community and I’m looking forward to working with the faculty and staff as we engage the students in all things dance! I am also very excited to connect with other programs across campus and into broader communities through the arts.”

“I am delighted that Duane has agreed to join the College of Fine Arts in this critical leadership role,” said Andrew Schulz, dean of the College of Fine Arts and vice president for the arts at the University of Arizona. “Duane’s deep engagement with the world of dance and his passionate commitment to student success and community engagement make him ideally suited be the next director of the School of Dance. I look forward to partnering with Duane and the outstanding faculty and staff of the school, to ensure that our highly regarded program continues to thrive under his leadership.”

Cyrus becomes only the second director in the history of the School of Dance, following Jory Hancock, who announced his retirement from the University of Arizona last spring after 34 years of building the dance program and its national reputation, along with his wife, Melissa Lowe, who was a professor of ballet and director of student services.

“I believe the legacy of the School of Dance left by Jory Hancock and Melissa Lowe will be a great foundation that I can build upon,” Cyrus said. “The School of Dance and the vibrant education community I experienced during my visit to campus really helped confirm my already growing interest in becoming the next director. Meeting the students was a highlight among several inspiring moments with a range of stakeholders. I was impressed by the strong performance level of the school during their “Spring Collection” concert. The commitment of the faculty and staff also resonated with me. I believe there is strong advocacy for the arts at Arizona with a myriad of amazing colleagues and collaborators.”

Duane Cyrus appointed School of Dance director
Cyrus is a recipient of the Princess Grace Foundation Award, Coleman Entrepreneurship Fellowship, and North Carolina Arts Council’s Choreographer Fellowship. He was a 2018 Bessie Award nominee for his performance in Cynthia Oliver’s “Virago-Man Dem.” He is the co-author and editor of the book “Vital Grace: The Black Male Dancer,” a photographic essay celebrating Black men in dance, including interviews with Gregory Hines, Bill T. Jones, and Evander Holyfield, published by Edition Stemmle. Image: Joseph Headen

Duane Cyrus appointed School of Dance director

His background as a performer, community collaborator, and teacher serves as the foundation for a multi-leveled approach that melds a range of performance genres and styles with an equally broad range of people to question social norms through accessible, touchable, and relevant engagements. Cyrus teaches dance repertory, improvisation, technique, choreography, and arts administration, among other courses. His teaching practice is focused on the development of future-mindset oriented professional artists for the 21st century.

He has worked as an independent artist, teacher, and choreographer throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. He has developed curricula for community outreach, intensives and arts-in-education programs for the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Circuit Productions, Museum of the City of New York, Charlotte Ballet, Ailey Camp, and American Ballet Theater among others. Cyrus has received commissions and developed projects for the American Dance Festival, Nannette Bearden, Martha Connerton, Noriko Hara Ballet, Masako Sakamura, and the Puffin Foundation. He has received grants from the Princess Grace Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, North Carolina Arts Council’s Choreographer Fellowship, Arts Greensboro, and The Bossak Heilbron Foundation. 

“I want to thank Colin Blakely, director of the School of Art and of strategic initiatives, for his thoughtful leadership in chairing the search advisory committee, as well the entire committee for the exemplary work they did in recruiting and evaluating candidates,” said Schulz. The search advisory committee included the following:

  • Lehman Benson, associate professor, Eller College of Management
  • Colin Blakely, chair, director, School of Art, and director, strategic initiatives, Arizona Arts
  • Chad Herzog, executive director, Arizona Arts Live
  • Marquez Johnson, instructor, School of Dance
  • Christie Kerr, assistant professor, School of Theatre, Film & Television
  • Amy Kraehe, associate vice president for equity in the arts, Arizona Arts
  • Hayley Meier, assistant professor of practice, School of Dance
  • Ryan Moore, senior technical director, School of Dance
  • Tilghman Moyer, executive director of development, Arizona Arts
  • Samuel Watson, associate professor of practice, School of Dance