Babette Coffey-Fisch: Co-Executive Director
Alvin Ailey knew that I loved to film and photograph dance. Alvin would let me sit smack in the middle of the Grand Tier at City Center in New York City and take photos of the company during rehearsals. Alvin knew that Joyce Trisler had trained Ana Forsythe and me before we were even teenagers at The Garden State Ballet in Newark, New Jersey. She brought us to the very first performances of Alvin’s Company. It was love.
Alvin and I talked about how important it was to document the Horton technique. He told me that I should see that it was done. It was when I met Jeanne Suggs, who had dance training and film production background, that I felt this is the person who would know how to accomplish the documentation of the technique. I was right.
Ana Forsythe had been writing the book The Lester Horton Technique, with Cheryl Bell and Marjorie Perces. I felt that there must also be a visual component to make sure that the technique was remembered accurately. We worked very hard because we were all committed to seeing the project completed. It took us years because we all could only work part time on the project. We all had jobs and yet we managed to do what had to be done to keep the project alive. We finally completed the last video of the technique documentation in 2003.
It has been a labor of love. Now we have the classes that complement the technique and show how a Horton class can be taught.
From the Horton we wanted next to document the Martha Graham Technique and approached the Martha Graham Dance Company. With their consent, cooperation and partnership we have begun this 4 year project to preserve her great legacy.
Babette studied dance first at The Garden State Ballet School and Co.with Fred Danieli and Joyce Trisler among her varied teachers, and then went on to the Royal Ballet School, under Dame Ninette De Valois and Barbara Fewster. In England, Babette performed with the Royal Opera Ballet in Aida and Rigoletto under Frano Zefferelli. In the late 1960’s she wrote for Dance Magazine under Lydia Joel, the editor at that time, and well known dance historian. In the 1970’s Babette worked closely with Charles Reinhart and the National Endowment for the Arts in their Dance Touring Program in Charlotte, North Carolina bringing dance companies to the area. Always with a passion for dance, she has spent the last 30 years striving to preserve and document America’s great dance legacies.
Jeanne Suggs: Co-Executive Director and Production Director
I came to New York from Tennessee as a dancer with a degree in TV/Film Production. I performed with some small dance companies in New York but ultimately left the performance world for production. I wanted to combine my two fields of interest and create dance videos. My first business, Video Performance Studio, was designed for dancers so they could rehearse and choreograph with the use of video for feedback and documentation.
I started recording dance companies in performance, the Joyce Trisler Danscompany and several dancers who are part of the Horton legacy – my first experience with the Horton Technique. A mutual friend introduced me to Babs Coffey because she had an idea for a TV show about dance and they thought we would be a perfect fit. We’ve been working together since.
We produced the pilot for a dance news/magazine show called Dance Spotlight with interviews with such varied dance greats as Crazy Legs of HipHop fame and Merrill Ashley of the New York City Ballet. Our next venture was the documentation of the Lester Horton Technique. We produced the first tape in the Horton series “The Warm-Up”. Over the next 15 years, we produced the Intermediate and Advanced Horton technique tapes and the Advanced Beginner and Intermediate Class tapes. We are now finishing the Advanced Horton class.
Along with my production of dance videos I created my own production company, Suggs Media Productions. I produce and direct for the TV commercial, industrial and the home video markets. I developed specialties in Direct Response Advertising and also in children's programming with the Hard Hat Harry Real Life Adventure series and the Activity Works educational/exercise school videos. I have also produced a feature films including "Calling It Quits" and some theatrical shorts.
My heart and love are in creating our dance videos.