Hip-hop Offerings to Expand

Duane Lee Holland Jr.

Dance performer, choreographer, and hip-hop scholar Duane Lee Holland Jr. is the first full-time faculty member to be hired to teach at both the Boston Conservatory and Berklee following the merger of the two institutions. “He is the perfect hire,” says Cathy Young, director of the conservatory's dance division. “One of our missions in the dance division has been to revitalize what a conservatory education is and rethink the idea that a rigorous dance education is primarily based on classical Western forms such as ballet and modern dance. Duane brings a depth of expertise in hip-hop, a dance form that is influencing the shape of contemporary dance hugely. He has also studied modern ballet and jazz, so he understands the kind of training that most of our students have experienced.”

Holland began his professional dance career at 17, dancing for the first hip-hop theater dance company, Rennie Harris Puremovement. He has since performed on Broadway with the casts of The Lion King and Hot Feet, and in numerous other productions in the United States, Europe, and Japan. Holland has choreographed many works and assisted Rennie Harris with choreography for Love Stories for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Shut Up & Dance for the Pennsylvania Ballet. He holds a master's degree in dance with a focus in choreography from the University of Iowa, and is a scholar of the history and cultural impact of hip-hop.

Holland will teach studio and academic courses, enabling students to learn the big picture of hip-hop as well as its movements. He will also facilitate artistic collaborations between the Boston Conservatory and Berklee. “Many of us in the conservatory's dance division are excited about the possibilities for collaborations with Berklee composers and performers,” Young says. “Part of Duane's charge will be to create collaborative projects with students and faculty, and to continue to build the culture around dance at Berklee.”