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“The Jody” Advances Hunter Leadership in Dance

Hunter’s role as New York’s leading public college for the arts took a great leap forward in 2018 with the dedication of The Jody, the beautifully refurbished performance and laboratory space for the college’s Dance Department. Located on the fifth floor of Thomas Hunter Hall, the high-tech-equipped studio is named in honor of Jody Gottfried Arnhold, dance educator and advocate and chair of the college’s Dance Advisory Board, whose commitment has earned her the nickname “the doyenne of dance.”

Well-known for her generosity and passion for dance, Arnhold has rich, firsthand experience acquired during her 25+ years as a dance educator in New York City public schools. Her experience taught her that young people are best introduced to dance in their elementary school years. But teaching dance to children takes more than trained dancers— it requires dancers who are trained to teach. That’s why she and her husband, John, made a gift of $870,000—part of $4 million they’ve given over the years—to create a beautiful new center, with dance studio and classroom space, which will serve as home for Hunter’s Arnhold Graduate Dance Education Program (AGDEP). AGDEP’s goal continues to be to prepare a new generation of dance teachers to follow in Arnhold’s footsteps.

Arnhold has made it her mission to put an accredited dance teacher in every NYC public school, and, thanks to AGDEP’s success, Hunter is well on the way to reaching her goal.

Her passion for dance education has invigorated the Hunter dance community, helping to shape a dance program into a full-fledged department—the only one of its kind in the CUNY system.

As President Raab said at the new studio’s dedication ceremony, “Thanks to Jody, in six short years we have institutionalized a dream by creating a program to produce highly trained dance teachers for K-12 schools in New York State. And this phenomenal program now has a home worthy of its impact and excellence because of her singular vision, support, and drive.”

In the Arnhold family, generosity is a family affair; also present at the ceremony was Henry, the Arnhold family’s cherished patriarch—Holocaust survivor, banking and investment leader, philanthropic legend, and larger-than-life personality. At the ceremony, he was hailed with a special round of applause (see page 1 photo) and a personalized Admit One ticket to The Jody, recognizing his commitment to furthering the arts at Hunter.

With moving speeches by current and for AGDEP students and a stirring performance by a young dancer who was mentored by an AGDEP teacher, the ribbon cutting was a whirlwind of congratulations, exuberance, and anticipation of what is still to come. This expansion to the fifth floor of Thomas Hunter Hall is the first step of a plan for a full-scale renovation of three floors for the Dance and Dance Education programs. “If we keep this up,” Jody Arnhold said, “dance for every child will become a reality.”

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