This spring, the College of Fine Arts welcomes Leah Cox to the Dance division as an associate professor with tenure in the Department of Theatre and Dance at The University of Texas at Austin. With her history as a dancer with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company and her most recent roles as dean of the American Dance Festival and associate professor of Dance at Bard College, Cox brings a wealth of experience to her new position. A nationally recognized leader in the field, she has been the subject of a cover story feature in Dance Teacher magazine and is regularly sought by professional publications and organizations for her expertise.
“We’re delighted to welcome Leah Cox to the faculty of the College of Fine Arts,” said Dean Doug Dempster. “She’s performed at the very pinnacle of contemporary dance. She’s an accomplished dance professor and dean of the most important contemporary dance festival in the U.S. Her experience and professional connections will be invaluable to our students and to her faculty colleagues.”
From 2001 to 2014, Cox worked with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, initially as a company dancer (2001–2009) and later as the company’s first education director. Cox developed the company’s educational materials, annual workshops and highly successful educational licensing program. She regularly restaged company works on students and professional dancers, including several unprecedented reconstructions of evening-length pieces. Her work as education director was featured in the documentary about Bill T. Jones, A Good Man, which aired on PBS nationwide.
Cox joins a distinguished Dance faculty that includes division head and Associate Professor Charles O. Anderson; Associate Professor Gesel Mason; Associate Professor of Practice Andrea Beckham; and Assistant Professors of Practice Tina Curran, Erica Gionfriddo and Dorothy O’Shea Overbey.
“Leah Cox is a gifted dancer, seasoned educator and serves in the distinguished position of dean of the American Dance Festival, the longest-running festival of its kind in the United States,” said Anderson. “She is an avid educator who approaches education as a practice of freedom across class, gender, race and ability. The UT Dance program is quickly becoming one of the leading programs dedicated to social justice at the core of its curriculum, and having Ms. Cox join us will allow us to continue to forge a dynamic new path in university dance training. She will be particularly impactful in further developing our concentration within Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Dance, dance composition and in developing graduate-level courses in community engagement and building educational programs outside of academia.”
Cox will continue in her role as dean of the American Dance Festival, hailed as “one of the nation’s most important institutions” by The New York Times and as “the world’s greatest dance festival” by the New York Post. The festival has advanced the careers of many of the field’s leading artists during its eight decades of existence. As dean, Cox creates the vision and hires faculty members for the festival’s training programs, which serve dancers ages 13 and older, preprofessional through professional.
Cox created and directed two innovative partnerships between a professional dance organization and Bard College during her tenure at the college. The first, with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, resulted in a six-year collaboration that provided intimate access to company methods and values and launched the professional careers of many Bard dance students. The second, with the American Dance Festival, received critical attention in the form of a feature article in Dance Magazine focusing on progressive dance programs.
“I am thrilled to bring my passion for dance to The University of Texas at Austin, where I hope to help further the national reputation of the Dance program and increase its impact on students within the university,” said Cox. “My dream is to create new pathways for nondancers to engage with the form and to learn how opening up conversations between dance majors and students in other disciplines can cultivate physical intelligence, creative thinking and problem-solving skills for use in a wide range of settings and fields.”
In addition to her work as a dancer and educator, Cox is also a frequent adjudicator for the American College Dance Association. She served on the New York Dance and Performance “Bessie" Award Committee from 2015 to 2018 and was a master teacher for YoungArts. She has choreographed for herself and been commissioned to create pieces for university dance programs nationwide. In New York City, her work has been presented at the Museum of Art and Design, the 92nd Street Y, Dixon Place, the DUMBO Dance Festival and the CoolNY Festival.