When I saw the New York Times article headline about a protest led by a “dance teacher at LaGuardia Performing Arts High School” I knew Michelle Mathesius was leading the charge. And deftly going to the media to buttress her case. LaGuardia’s mission is to encourage talented students in the performing arts, but — lately — the very talented ones have been rejected for admission in favor of those with so-so talent and higher academic standards.
This is not the way to create Broadway stars.
If you don’t know Michelle as a dancer, you have heard of her ex husband, Bill, a former judge and Republican prosecutor known for being outspoken.
I wrote about her for the Trenton Times during the glory days of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, when it had money, when she was dancing and choreographing and teaching and organizing and doing all with a flair. She led the movement to celebrate New Jersey’s early dance star, Ruth St. Denis, and she helped create the vo-tech schools of performing arts. La Guardia Performing Arts High School snatched her away and though I went to one of its impressive recitals, we lost touch.
Surely the legions of LaGuardia graduates will come out of the woodwork, out of the rehearsal studios, off the Broadway stages — to join Mathesius in her protest. Dance on, Michelle!