Magazine article Dance Magazine

Curtain Up

Magazine article Dance Magazine

Curtain Up

Article excerpt

Should modern dancers go to college? Do they really learn to dance there, or are they better off taking tons of classes until they land a gig? What about going to a conservatory program?

These questions were broached in an article in The New York Times entitled "Practice, Practice, Practice. Go to College? Maybe." [Dec. 21, 2005]. The writer, Erika Kinetz, focused on Mark Morris and his dancers as examples of current attitudes. Although 15 out of 17 dancers in the Mark Morris Dance Group graduated from colleges or conservatories, Morris himself called the college experience "a big bag of wind." Thanks Mark, for that highly nuanced observation, but this is exactly the wrong time to be trashing the role that colleges, universities, and conservatories play in the dance field. College dance departments are becoming virtual incubators of dance. They have been hiring working dance artists as teachers and giving them time to choreograph within the academic calendar. Students are exposed to high-caliber dance makers like David Dorfman (Connecticut College), Bebe Miller (Ohio State University), Terry Creach (Bennington College), and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar (Florida State University). Academics are finally accepting dance as an art equal to literature and music. And dance majors graduating from these schools are just as likely to get a job as those who go the studio route.

It would be hard to find a dancer today who regrets going to college. On a lively campus you learn not only from your teachers, but also from your fellow students. Those four years are a precious period of discovery. …

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