STEPHANIE CLEMENS

"Our neighbor was a very famous Russian dancer named Adolph Bolm and Adolph Bolm had partnered Anna Pavlova in the original Diaghilev Ballets Russes and he ended up living in Hollywood and he saw me running around... and he said to my mother, 'You get her to a dance studio.'"

"They said, 'You have to study modern. Who do you want to study with, Jose Límon or Martha Graham?' I picked Martha Graham."

Stephanie Clemens grew up in Los Angeles and studied at San Francisco Ballet School and The Juilliard School.  She started the Academy of Movement and Music in 1971 in her Oak Park home. It has grown to include over 500 students and a resident performing arts company, MOMENTA. She received the Ruth Page Award for Lifetime Service in 2001.

April 05, 2018: Stephanie Clemens gives a comprehensive synopsis of her life in dance, beginning with her training in the Hollywood Hills and her connection to Denishawn and progressing to her time at Juilliard. She recounts moving to Oak Park and opening the Academy for Movement and Music and starting the MOMENTA Dance Company. Clemens talks extensively about training children, the performances staged by the school and MOMENTA, and the many collaborators she has worked with. The interview also includes a tour of the school and a look at several costumes worn and/or made by Clemens over the years.

A woman in a beaded costume and headdress performing on stage

"They would come with the entire Ruth St. Denis concert dancers and their notch skirts and their ankle bells and their Uday Shankar records and they would rehearse while they babysat me."

"I spent two years of my life looking at Nureyev – 64 frames a second on old film –taking 22 measurements on his body and graphing it against time by hand. No computers."

"The presence of an almost all-black dance company in this community and in this building opened the doors to having a more diverse group of students here, which was terribly important to me."

"If I haven't taught them anything else, I have taught them a life lesson."

"Denishawn is the ultimate bling trip."