Henning Rubsam is a choreographer and dancer based in New York City. He is the artistic director of SENSEDANCE, a resident choreographer for Hartford City Ballet, a Professor at The Juilliard School, and a visiting guest professor at Texas Academy of Ballet (Carolyn Bognar, director).
Rubsam was born in Marburg, Germany, where he took his first ballet class at the age of five. He studied with Andre Doutreval in Kassel and at the Hamburg Opera Ballet School. For several summers he studied at the Internationale Sommerakademie des Tanzes in Koln.
After moving to New York as a teenager, Rubsam's early mentors included Martha Hill and Elizabeth Keen. While a student at the Juilliard School, he took Classical Spanish Dance, studied Indian dance with Indrani Rahman, took a summer intensive at the School of American Ballet, performed as the Faun in the Nijinsky/Debussy ballet, starred in a dance film at the Sundance Institute, where he worked with Diane Coburn-Bruning, Michael Kidd and Stanley Donen, and toured internationally with the Limon Dance Company. He received a B.F.A. degree in dance from Juilliard in 1991.
Upon graduation he founded his own ensemble SENSEDANCE and continued to dance with other choreographers, namely Duncan Macfarland, Murray Louis and most importantly Alwin Nikolais. Rubsam found his next mentor in Beverly Schmidt Blossom, whose work he performed after Nikolais' passing. His interest in early modern dance led to guest appearances with repertory companies in the works of Isadora Duncan, Doris Humphrey and Anna Sokolow. His early work Schubert: Lieder (1991) and his epic solo Sand to Chopin (1993) might owe influences to Jose Limon, but an independent signature was visible early on, since Rubsam was able to create melodic lines in movement that conversed with the music rather than mirrored it. Rubsam appeared as a guest dancer with a myriad of contemporary choreographers and used his own company as a laboratory for ideas that ranged from setting biblical stories to live accompaniment of a 27-member choir at St. Mark's Church in Carissimi's "Jephte" (and setting an attendance record for the venue) to visceral movement experimentation in an evolutionary safari named "Dolphins and Antelopes" (1996). For the latter as well as future works "Moonpaths" (1998), "Dinner is West" (2005) and "Tenancy" (2011) he commissioned music scores by fellow Juilliard graduate Beata Moon. In addition to Moon, he has collaborated with numerous composers and musicians, including Ricardo Llorca and Leslie Wildman as well as designers of different disciplines, e.g. Fabio Toblini.
Among the many awards Rubsam received are a Jerome L. Greene Fellowship, a Lincoln Center Fellowship, a Manhattan Spirit Award as "best male dancer” in 1997, a choreography award from Stephens College in 2000, an award for his advocacy from Dancers Responding to AIDS in 2004 and the Distinguished Artist Award from Bergen College in 2009, the first time this award was given to a dance artist.
Rubsam also works for theater and opera as both choreographer and director. He has been a guest choreographer and teacher for ballet, contemporary dance companies and universities throughout the Americas as well as in Australasia and Europe. Rubsam was the first speaker on dance for the Gel conference in 2007 and lead a workshop at Gel in 2011. He is a known advocate for his art form and has presented lectures for the Lincoln Center Young Patrons Program. In December 2010 he hosted fellow choreographers Robert Garland, Matthew Neenan and Luca Veggetti for a panel at Juilliard. His dance writing has appeared in Dance Magazine and its annual Stern's Performing Arts Directory, Pointe Magazine, Ballet Review, The Juilliard Journal and he was the American correspondent for the European publication Dance-for-You. Rubsam appears in the documentary Behind the Curtain and is a long-time board member of the Martha Hill Dance Fund. On the occasion of his company's upcoming 20th anniversary season, Classic Talk conducted a two part interview with Rubsam in the fall of 2011.
Since working closely with the late Prima Ballerina Assoluta Eva Evdokimova starting in 2000, his choreographic work has incorporated ballet vocabulary. In 2002 he created a highly acclaimed solo work for Evdokimova and in 2004 began introducing point work to his eclectic repertoire, thus attracting dancers from American Ballet Theatre, Dance Theatre of Harlem and New York City Ballet. His company SENSEDANCE premiered his Impending Visit (music: Rafael Aponte-Ledee) in 2009 at the Fiesta Iberoamericana de las Artes in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and he represented the United States as a cultural ambassador at the Danza Nueva Festival in Lima and on a subsequent tour with his company through Peru in 2010. In Fall 2006, he joined the Juilliard faculty, where he implemented a dance appreciation program for the general public. Earlier that year he was named Resident Choreographer of the Hartford City Ballet.
Among his well-known disciples and guest dancers are Violetta Klimczewska, Ramon Thielen, Andrea Long, Carlos Molina, Dartanion Reed, Christine Reisner, as well as Samuel Lee Roberts and Akua Noni Parker, both with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
"Mr. Rubsam has steadily followed his own drumbeat, though in the case of his cheerfully humanist choreography the sound might more appropriately be that of a flute." (Jennifer Dunning, NYTimes, Oct. 3, 2003)
"HALF-LIFE and Gottingen poignantly tackle the big questions and put Rubsam forth as the Anselm Kiefer of dance." (Lori Ortiz, readingdance.com, June 26, 2011)
His works include:Schubert: Lieder (1991)
After Yet Another Fall (1992) – original music: Beata Moon
Folk Tales (1992)
Erect Secrets (1993) – original music: Christopher Buchenholz
Sand (1993) - music: Chopin
Kingdom (1993) - music: Bartok
Ginger: My Story (1995)
Dolphins and Antelopes (1996) – original music: Beata Moon
Brass Blues (1997)
Art of Love (1997) – tribute to Laura Nyro
Moonpaths (1998) – original music: Beata Moon
Be Good (2000)
Voices of Spring (2000)
Brahms: "Double Concerto" (2001)
Listeners borne as bone (2002) – original music: Kevin James
The End of Innocence (2002) – music: Ricardo Llorca
Litanei & Fruhlingsglaube (2002) – for Prima Ballerina Eva Evdokimova
On The Fritz (2002)
Safari (2002) – music: Beata Moon
Petit Pas (2003)
Chorale (2004) - music: Ricardo Llorca
Quartet (2004) – music: Ricardo Llorca
Herman Sherman' (2004)
Dinner is West (2005) – original music: Beata Moon
The Dance Bag (2005)
Burque Bosque (2006) - music: Beata Moon
Basie's Basement (2006)
Merciless Beauty (2006) – music: Leslie Wildman
Caves (2006) – music: Ricardo Llorca
Amaranthine Road (2007) – music: Beata Moon
Innocence (2007) – music: Ron Mazurek
The Secret (2007) – music: Beata Moon
Inter-Mez-Zo (2008) – music: Beata Moon
Guernica (2008) – music: Beata Moon
Final Bell (2008) – music: Ron Mazurek
Scherzo (2008) – Hartford City Ballet
Cloudforest (2008) – SENSEDANCE at Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theater – NY, NY
Impending Visit (2009) – at Festival Fiesta Iberoamericana de las Artes – San Juan, Puerto Rico
Jose Antonio (2010) – Danza Nueva Festival – Lima, Peru
Dvorak 8/3 (2010) – Texas Academy of Ballet
Nonet (2011) - music: Ricardo Llorca
Tenancy (2011) - original music: Beata Moon
HALF-LIFE 102 (2012)
obsession | calm (2012) - music: Ernest Bloch
Brahms Dances (2012)
Sarao (2013) - music: Ricardo Llorca
An einsamer Quelle (2013)
Russian Lesson (2013)