Since the early 1960s, dancer/educators and long-time collaborating sisters Carolyn Adams and Julie Adams Strandberg have played active and innovative roles in the dance field. Their ongoing research and groundbreaking pedagogy have transformed lives and an art form.
Adams, internationally recognized as an iconic interpreter of master choreographer Paul Taylor, followed her performing career with faculty positions at City College, The Juilliard School, and The Ailey School, and has received national awards for her contributions to the field. Strandberg, a vanguard in dance education and research, founded Brown University’s dance program in 1969, transforming it from a recreational activity to a full academic program with professional-level experience and exposure, and from 1971-80 was artistic director of the Rhode Island Dance Repertory Company. In 1973, along with their parents, Adams and Strandberg established The Harlem Dance Foundation, to "nurture an endangered art form in an endangered community." Over the course of 20 years, the Foundation produced performances and events and developed arts education programs both at the studio and in communities throughout the Northeast. In 1989, the sisters began directing the New York State Summer School of the Arts School of Dance, a pre-professional intensive for high school students.
In these various settings, Adams and Strandberg led activities aimed at integrating dance across the generations, between the dance field and broader population, and into educational curricula. Their basic philosophy has always been that modern dance—an indigenous American art form and the least known or appreciated of all the arts—has the potential to provide all people with kinesthetic and historical knowledge and understanding of the evolving American culture.
By the onset of the 1990s, what emerged was a shared, deeply integrated and visionary understanding of the challenges and opportunities inherent in dance’s relationship with the wider American culture, and they began to recognize obstacles that were impeding the teaching, performing, and sharing of the American dance legacy. In 1992, they established the Repertory Etudes Project to address those challenges. Adams and Strandberg worked in connection with a network of collaborators and their affiliated organizations—Brown University, New York State Summer School of the Arts, The Harlem Dance Foundation, City College, and The Juilliard School—as key supporters towards Repertory Etudes Project's launch.
In 2003, after 10 years of Repertory Etudes development and initial programming, Dancing Legacy was created by Laura Bennett (Julie's daughter and Carolyn's niece) as the primary vehicle for performing and teaching the Repertory Etudes. Dancing Legacy's performing repertory has grown beyond the RepEtudes and the ensemble has developed a unique and adaptable teaching methodology that emphasizes thoughtful and dynamic ways to pass on dances while ensuring those works are taught, performed, and shared authentically. Through ongoing performing, teaching, and collaborative projects, Dancing Legacy will continue to build on Adams and Strandberg's work, transforming how people think about and experience the evolving American dance legacy.