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School of Dance

Carolyn Adams

Founding Artistic Director

Carolyn Adams was a principal dancer with the Paul Taylor Dance Company from 1965-1982, creating roles in such Taylor masterpieces as Esplanade, Arden Court, and Cloven Kingdom, and further distinguishing herself in Taylor’s classic, Aureole, which she performed on Broadway as part of the Nureyev and Friends season at the Uris Theater in 1974. Adams has performed and taught throughout the world.

A graduate of the Ethical Culture Schools, she holds a bachelor of arts degree from Sarah Lawrence College, certificates from the University of Paris and La Schola Cantorum, and a master’s degree in social work from Fordham University. She collaborated with AHRC in the creation of a dance curriculum and teacher-training manual for children and adults with autism. She is co-founder of Dancing Legacy and the Harlem Dance Foundation and faculty emerita at The Juilliard School. Adams is currently teaching Taylor technique and repertory at The Alvin Ailey School. She published articles on arts education, served on numerous panels including the National Endowment for the Arts and chaired Dance/USA’s National Task Force on Dance Education. She currently serves on the Board of the Paul Taylor Dance Company and is Co-Chair of the New York State Regents’ Blue Ribbon Commission on the Arts. Adams conceived the Repertory Etudes concept, engaging choreographers to create studies based on quintessential elements of their signature works. These studies/RepEtudes are made accessible to the public for viewing, teaching, and performing. Her steadfast advocacy for dance and dancers, past, present and future is at the core of her vision and commitment to NYSSSA and the next generation.

Adams is recipient of numerous awards, including the Balasaraswati/Joy Ann Dewey Beinecke Endowed Chair for Distinguished Teaching, presented by the American Dance Festival in 2009, an honorary award from the International Association of Blacks in Dance in 2010, a 2016 Dance Magazine Award, and a 2019 Martha Hill Award for lifetime Achievement. She is married to former Paul Taylor dancer, Robert Kahn. They have two children, Sandra and Vitali, and a grandchild, Sandra’s son, Gunnar. The Kahns live in New York City.