Vol 56 No. 9 | August 2004
Awards & Grants
Nielsen Receives Lester Horton Award
Douglas Nielsen, an associate professor in CSULB's Dance Department since 2000, received the 2003 Lester Horton Dance Educator Award for excellence in teaching at the 13th annual Lester Horton Dance Award ceremony held in Los Angeles' Japan America Theatre. The award was presented by Donald McKayle and sponsored by The Dance Resource Center of Greater Los Angeles. Nielsen, a Hollywood resident, said he was pleased to receive the laurel but added, "I had to check my birth certificate. I didn't consider myself 'old' enough to receive such an honor."
One reason Nielsen was singled out for this recognition is his long record of achievement. He has been a guest teacher and choreographer at more than 40 universities throughout the United States and abroad. He has received four National Endowments for the Arts choreography fellowships and a performing arts fellowship from the Arizona Commission on the Arts. He has served as an adjudicator for The American College Dance Festival four times, and has been associated with the American Dance Festival for 15 years. In the past three years he has taught at the University of Chile, Santiago, the Palucca Schula Dresden, Germany and the Universidad De Las Americas in Puebla, Mexico. In 1982, he established Douglas Nielsen Dance. He choreographed and performed a new work, "Unrequited Views of Perception and Irrationalisms" in 2003 at the Skirball Cultural Center as part of the "Lifespan: Exploring and Celebrating the New Longevity" series. "I taught my first modern dance class, ironically, at CSULB, summer session 1973, by default, really, since my teacher didn't show up that day, so I said, 'I'll do it,'" he said. "Thirty years later, I guess I've been around the block enough to get noticed."
Nielsen also taught as the Rufus Putnam Professor in Residence at Ohio University and as the Sage Cole Chair at the University of Minnesota.
He recently returned from a semester's professional leave teaching at New York University Tisch School of the Arts.
"My responsibilities at NYU included teaching two sections in technique, and two sections in theories of choreography," he explained. "I also taught audition classes, attended student productions, advised students in their development and participated in the graduation ceremonies at Madison Square Garden.
"I think it's healthy to see how other dance departments work. We can learn a lot from each other," he added.
Nielsen understands that any award can be perceived as a vote of confidence but also raises expectations. "I only hope I can live up to it," he said. "In a textbook I recommend to all of my students, Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland, there contains a warning against defining yourself by awards. Recognition can be intoxicating at first, but ultimately it should not affect the way you work or even why you work."
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