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Stephen M. Rooks Professor and Chair of Dance

Steve Rooks danced with the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble, and the Martha Graham Dance Company, where he performed for over a decade and achieved the rank of Principal Dancer.

Mr. Rooks is currently Chair of Dance and Resident Choreographer at Vassar and the 2004 winner of the National Choreographic Competition at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. He has been awarded Research Grants to travel to Latvia, Zambia, and in 2014 to Finland, where he choreographed “Plate Tectonics” on 24 international dancers. Mr. Rooks was commissioned by the Masterworks Festival to create ballets for a number of contemporary composers including Clarice Assad, Piet Swerts, and David Skidmore – all to live orchestra.

Mr. Rooks has served as an adjudicator for the American College Dance Festival, and a solo “Vista” was created for Aran Bell (ABT) for the 2014 International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi. Four contemporary solos were recently submitted to the 2016 Youth American Grand Prix Ballet Competition.

  • BA, Dartmouth College
  • At Vassar since 1996

Contact

Research and Academic Interests

  • Contemporary Choreography
  • Classic Modern Repertory
  • The Technique and Repertory of Martha Graham
  • Coach/Mentoring

Departments and Programs

Grants, Fellowships, Honors, Awards

Appointed and served as Chair of Dance at Vassar College, 2009-2013

National Choreographic Competition – Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, 2004

Distinguished Alumni Award – The Mercersburg Academy, 2003

Community Service Award – Lions Club, 1996

Declaration from Minister of Tourism – Jerusalem, Israel, 1996

Merit Award for Outstanding Teaching – Howard University, Washington D.C, 1993

The State of the Art Award – T. J. Productions New York, New York, 1981

Marcus Heiman Award for the Performing Arts, Dartmouth College, 1977

Black Underground Theater and Arts Award for Dance, Dartmouth College, 1976

Friends of the Hopkins Center Scholarship for the Performing Arts, 1975

Photos

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Photo: Karl Rabe / Vassar College

Steve Rooks began his dance training in Washington, D.C. after graduating with honors from Dartmouth College. He continued his training in New York City as a full scholarship student at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center. Mr. Rooks danced and toured with the Ailey Repertory Ensemble and the Martha Graham Dance Company—at the latter, he performed for over a decade and achieved the rank of Principal Dancer.

Mr. Rooks is currently Chair of Dance and Resident Choreographer at Vassar College. He has also taught as a guest teacher with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the Martha Graham Dance Company, the American Academy of Ballet, Ballet Nacional de Mexico, Pehnyo Productions in Barbados, the North Carolina School of the Arts, and the International Summer School in Sydney, Australia. He has choreographed a number of pieces, including “Cool River,” which premiered at Lincoln center in 1996, and which later became part of the Graham Company repertoire. He was a 2004 winner of the National Choreographic Competition at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and created two solos for the 2004 Youth American Grand Prix Ballet Competition. He has been awarded Vassar Research grants to travel to Latvia, Zambia, and most recently Finland, where he choreographed “Plate Tectonics” on 24 international dancers. As part of the Masterworks Festival, Mr. Rooks was commissioned to create ballets for a number of contemporary composers including Clarice Assad, Piet Swerts, and David Skidmore—all accompanied by a live orchestra.

Mr. Rooks has served as an adjudicator for the American College Dance Festival. His solo “Vista” was performed by Aran Bell of American Ballet Theater at the 2014 International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi. Four contemporary solos were created for submission to the 2016 Youth American Grand Prix and the 2017 Cecchetti International Ballet Competition in Florence, Italy.

In 2017, Mr. Rooks was Artist-in-Residence at Sumeet Nagdev Dance Arts in Mumbai, India. A solo work “Dashanan” was created during that residency and had its World Premiere at the St. Andrews Auditorium in Mumbai.

Mr. Rooks would like to thank Jesus Christ for all that has happened to him.