Cassandra Phifer

Biography

Native New Yorker Cassandra Phifer is a founding member of the Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH). She began her professional career at age fourteen, while attending Professional Children’s School.  Her initial studies were at the Harlem School of the Arts, where she was the first student and inspiration for the school itself by the founding director, Dorothy Maynor.  She rose through the ranks of DTH becoming principal dancer and toured to more than forty countries around the globe performing in most of the major opera houses in the world. She has participated in many special television broadcasts from Live from Kennedy Center to numerous PBS programs.  She received critical acclaim in George Balanchine’s Serenade and Four Temperaments, Valerie Bettis’ Streetcar Named Desire, Lester Horton’s The Beloved, and Agnes de Mille’s Fall River Legend.  Her passion and inquisitive nature for the logic and science of dance techniques led her to teaching.  As one of DTH’s ballet mistresses, she taught master classes as part of their outreach services as well as being a moderator/emcee of DTH’s lecture demonstration series.   She also conceived and directed the educational outreach services for DTH on their momentous tour of South Africa in 1992.  She has taught guest residencies throughout the Netherlands, Sweden and Austria and continues to teach master classes both nationally and internationally.  In 1990-1994, she helped write and create the Chance to Dance program in London in collaboration with the Royal Ballet.  In 1994 she joined the faculty of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and in 1998 joined the faculty of Marymount Manhattan College.  Among her other teaching credits are Sarah Lawrence College and Ballet Hispanico.  In 2012 she was asked by the State Department to develop and teach a guest residency in the country of Turkmenistan.  Cassandra holds a Bachelor of Arts in Dance from SUNY/Empire College and a Master of Arts in Theoretical Dance from New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study.  She also holds New York State Certification and license in Performing Arts/classical ballet.  She is currently on faculty at The Ailey School and at LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and the Performing Arts in New York City.