Diane Newman Alumni Award - Happendance

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2018 Diane Newman Award for Distinguished Alumni Honoree Julianne VanWagenen
Julianne VanWagenen started dancing at Newman Dance Theater in 1987, at the age of 3. After February 1993, Newman Dance Theater became Happendance School. Julianne graduated from DePaul University with a Bachelors of Arts in English and Italian in 2006 and then spent 5 years in Rome, Italy, where she attended university and taught language. In 2011, Julianne began a doctoral program in Italian Studies at Harvard University, graduating in May 2017, and she now lives and teaches in Los Angeles, California, as a lecturer in Italian at the University of Southern California Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences. Julianne has lived in Chicago; Rome, Italy; Santiago, Chile; Cambridge, Massachusetts; and Los Angeles, California; and no matter where she goes, she dances. She has found that the training she received at Happendance has prepared her to dance with any school, no matter the caliber, even with the likes of Joffrey dancers at Ruth Page in Chicago, or for Tai Jimenez and Yury Yanowsky of the Boston Ballet.
2017 Diane Newman Award for Distinguished Alumni Honoree Nick Rehberger
Nick Rehberger studied at Happendance School during his high school studies at Haslett High School and graduated in 2009. This summer he makes his Chicago debut at Chicago Shakespeare Theater as Will Shakespeare in Shakespeare In Love. His Broadway credits include: The Glass Menagerie, directed by John Tiffany; and Fiddler on the Roof, directed by Bartlett Sher. Film credits include: I Am Michael. Television credits include: Girls (HBO), The Deuce (HBO), and Gotham (FOX). Mr. Rehberger received his BFA in musical theatre from Carnegie Mellon University in 2013.

In accepting this award, Mr. Rehberger had this to say:
"Wow! Thank you for thinking of me for this award! It really means a lot. Of course, I am completely honored to accept it. Although I am always working on improving my dance technique, I know that the dance training I had in high school at Happendance prepared me to be less afraid to dive into the very intense movement and dance classes I took in college. From there, I had no fear to seek out productions with a strong physical life. Thank You!
2016 Diane Newman Award for Distinguished Alumni Honoree Amy Astley
Amy Astley is now the Editor-In-Chief of Architectural Digest. At the time of her award, she was the Editor-In-Chief of Teen Vogue. As the founding Editor of the magazine, Astley melded street style, high fashion, and pop culture to create not only a successful magazine - but a dynamic teen lifestyle brand. Teen Vogue has a circulation of over one million readers and has been nominated twice for a National Magazine Award for General Excellence.

In October 2009, Astley released her first book, The Teen Vogue Handbook:  An Insider’s Guide to Careers in Fashion. The New York Times bestseller is a practical reference guide for young adults interested in all areas of fashion: design, styling, photography, and journalism - reinforcing Teen Vogue’s motto, “Fashion Starts Here.” An updated version the handbook, with 90% new content, was released in November 2014. Ashley has also pioneered annual industry events such as Teen Vogue’s Fashion University and the Young Hollywood party. She developed a Teen Vogue bedding collection, available at leading national retailers such as Macy’s, Bed Bath and Beyond, and JC Penney, and in July 2014, developed a Teen Vogue line of Back-to-School products sold exclusively at Staples.

A twenty-seven year veteran of Conde Nast, Astley has been named one of Forbes magazine’s most powerful U.S. fashion editors, for continuously fueling the creative world of teen culture, beauty, entertainment, and fashion through print, editorial, web, and social media outlets. A longtime supporter of the arts and dance education in particular, Astley has been honored for her contributions and twice co-chaired both the National Dance Institute and the Youth American Grand Prix benefit fundraisers.

She began her career in 1989 at House and Garden, where she worked as an Associate Editor. Ashley joined Vogue in 1993 as a Beauty Associate, and became the Beauty Director by the following year. She worked at Vogue until she was chosen by Anna Wintour to launch Teen Vogue in 2003.

Astley is a graduate of the Honors College at Michigan State University, class of 1989 with a degree in English. She lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters.  She studied classical ballet intensively with Diane Newman from 1979-1984.
2015 Diane Newman Award for Distinguished Alumni Honoree Christine Hill-Kayser
Christine Hill-Kayser is a graduate of East Lansing High School, and danced at the Happendance School from ages 9 -18. After a year at Tisch School of the Arts as a dance major, she enrolled at the University of Michigan and then at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, from which she received her MD in 2005. Chrissie completed her medical training in Radiation Oncology and joined the Penn Faculty in 2010. She now spends her time taking care of pediatric cancer patients, with special research focus on survivorship issues for patients who have completed active cancer care. She is the Chief of the Pediatric Radiation Oncology Service and the Editor-in-Chief of OncoLink, a cancer information website, at the University of Pennsylvania. In both of these roles, she travels around the world teaching others about cancer survivorship and the role of a new technology, proton therapy, in improving quality of life for patients who require radiation for cancer. She lives in Philadelphia and continues taking dance classes at Koresh School of Dance, sometimes alone, but more often with her three year old daughter, Mabel. She reminds Mabel of a lesson that she keeps in her heart from Diane Newman – “whatever you do, always do your very best.” This message has stood Chrissie in good stead through both dance and medical training, as well as in daily life, and is one never to forget.
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