Robert McCollum trained in New York City from 1974-78, on scholarship at the American Ballet Center (school of the Joffrey Ballet), with a faculty which included Meredith Baylis, Richard Gibson, and Ann Parsons. He also studied independently with Maggie Black and Marjorie Mussman, and, at the Boston Conservatory, he took joint ballet/Limón classes, by invitation, with Emiko and Yasiko Tokanaga. He counts among his modern dance influences his workshop experiences with Ruth Currier, Louis Falco, Jennifer Muller, Kathryn Posen, Jennifer Scanlon, and Twyla Tharp. McCollum went on to dance professionally in both the United States and Canada. In 1980, McCollum sustained a serious injury, and, though he couldn’t continue to perform in a company context, he nevertheless danced independently with many choreographers, including Gail Benn, Murray Darroch, Gabby Kamino, Jennifer Mascall, Holly Small, and Debbie Wilson.
From 1987 through 1989, McCollum attended Canada’s National Ballet School (NBS) auditing the teacher training program as a professional dancer, and he received his Associate Cecchetti Certificate with Distinction from NBS in 1989. Since 1996, McCollum has taught at NBS, where he is the co-ordinator for the adult evening program, and he is on the faculty of the Teacher Training Program.
For many years, he has been on the staff of the annual summer Teachers’ Seminar, working with Peggy Baker, Irene Dowd, and Patricia Miner. From 1990 to the present, he has been a faculty member and resident choreographer at the George Brown College Theatre School, where he teaches dance to actors and choreographs their performances. Since 1996, he has been a guest ballet master for advanced students at the Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre (formerly Canadian Children’s Dance Theatre). McCollum has also taught in the summers, since 1992, for Dans Nova Scotia, under Artistic Director Diane Milligan.
Acclaimed for his expertise in teaching adults, McCollum has a teaching style clearly influenced by his studies in Limón, particularly with Jennifer Muller, and he remains very connected to the modern dance community in Toronto. His teaching bridges dance techniques in a unique manner, and his respect for the integrity of the whole dancer is always evident in his approach.