As a performer, we get recognition all the time through applause, so to get sort of a quieter, more distinguished honor like that was really a treasure to my heart. It speaks of my mission, not only with the center, but with my life.
Todd Rosenlieb '89 has always been a catalyst for change. The self-described "musical theater kid" was a sophomore at Bucknell when he choreographed a theatre department production of The Pirates of Penzance. But knowing that more complex shows would require someone with formal training, Rosenlieb lobbied the dean to add a dance department. Thanks in part to his effort, Danna Frangione became the University's first dance professor.
"I figured since I opened my big mouth, I'd better take a class," he says. "That's how it all began — I just took every class I could go to, without even being registered."
Rosenlieb, a double major in English and economics, planned to be a lawyer. But the whirlwind of dance education he received in his final two years at Bucknell, including serving as a teaching assistant and president of the student dance company, convinced him to pursue a career in the arts.
He earned an MFA at New York University's Tisch School for the Arts and then joined the Erick Hawkins Dance Co. He became company director in 1995 at age 28, but after a few guest-artist stints in Norfolk, he moved to Virginia in 2001 to join the faculty at the Governor's School for the Arts. In 2005, he opened his own studio, Todd Rosenlieb Dance, which now includes two professional dance companies, a 120-seat theater, a Pilates studio and the dance departments of the Governor's School for the Arts and Tidewater Community College.
Rosenlieb's involvement in the arts was the springboard into his newest passion: community service. The studio hosts an adaptive dance program and arts education programming for at-risk students. Rosenlieb also has been active in the fight for marriage equality. He helped organize Out in the Park, which drew 17,000 people to downtown Norfolk, and was recently awarded an OUTstanding Virginian Award from Equality Virginia.
"As a performer, we get recognition all the time through applause," he says. "So to get sort of a quieter, more distinguished honor like that was really a treasure to my heart. It speaks of my mission, not only with the center, but with my life."