Anthony Salatino is not an introvert. With a confident dancer’s walk and enthusiastic teaching methods, he is a performer to the very core. But the Syracuse University choreographer, director, and teacher wasn’t always so open.
At just six years old, Salatino began dance lessons as a method of combating shyness. Salatino’s mother enrolled him and his brother in tap classes in their hometown of Utica, NY, hoping to acclimate her sons to more social situations. Though his brother quit shortly after joining, Anthony fell in love with the art form. He continued dancing in Utica until he was 17, when he moved to New York City to attend performing arts school. After just two semesters, he began training at The Juilliard School, one of the best known conservatories in the world.
“I was young, and I didn’t have anyone in New York, but I pursued it,” Salatino said. “It’s difficult when you move from one place to another and you don’t have that support system. But Juilliard is a great school, so that was a wonderful opportunity to help develop my skills.”
During his dance education, Salatino worked with numerous contemporary choreographers while developing his technique in ballet and other styles. After graduation, he traveled to Europe, where he worked as a dancer with the Tanz-Forum in Germany and married a Finnish ballerina.
In 1978, Salatino returned to the United States and began working as a choreographer and director for Connecticut's Hartford Chamber Ballet. This change of pace sparked his directing career, during which he also worked in Fort Worth, TX.
After ten years on the job, a desire to live closer to his son brought Salatino to Syracuse, NY. He began work as a freelance choreographer and teacher, and founded a dance program at West Genessee High School. His work caught the eye of Arthur Storch, a director at Syracuse Stage, the local professional theatre; Storch insisted that Salatino apply for any future job that opened up.
Now, 16 years after being hired for the position, Salatino is a staple of the program, working as a fight director, choreographer, and director for SU performances. He also teaches classes in dance and theater instruction.
“I enjoy it here,” Salatino said. “When you’re able to take your life experiences and put them it into choreography and plays that are relevant today, that’s important to you.”
But beyond sharpening his own skills, Salatino enjoys watching his students grow and showing them the passion he, himself, feels for performing. He strives to keep his classroom atmosphere welcoming -- different from the harsh style of teaching he experienced in college.
“They’re here for a very short time to learn how to dance, so it’s important that they find their inner voice as well as develop their technique,” Salatino said. “That artistic side needs to be simultaneously developed, parallel with the technique. That’s what I want to do.”