Magazine article Dance Magazine

Dancers in Cap and Gown: Leading Members of the American College Dance Festival Association in the Southeast Discuss the Nature of Multiculturalism, Technique Training, and the Place of Repertory in College Dance Programs

Magazine article Dance Magazine

Dancers in Cap and Gown: Leading Members of the American College Dance Festival Association in the Southeast Discuss the Nature of Multiculturalism, Technique Training, and the Place of Repertory in College Dance Programs

Article excerpt

WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE FACING UNIVERSITY DANCE PROGRAMS TODAY?

Nancy Smith Fichter: To make the curriculum relevant to the society in which a program is operating. This means that all of those "isms," such as multiculturalism, come into play. I would simply suggest that multiculturalism certainly does deal with different ethnicities, but that it also deals with the culture of technology, changing age, and changing demographics in ways other than just the ethnic component. The challenge is to deal with these issues, not in a trendy or token way, but in a way that will help the student advance in his or her mission while addressing an increasingly changing world.

Timothy Wilson: The word diversity is getting tossed around so much in our education today. I think you are correct that we are interpreting in terms of color, of ethnicity, and of token stabs at what we think is world dance. But diversity needs to be the very nature of the curriculum.

NSF: I think we are afraid that we will lose some of the things for which we fought so long, such as providing professional training in the classical forms. There is the danger of becoming trendy and dilettante so that the refining isn't happening.

Gretchen Warren: We have to remember that the majority of jobs out there are not in a bunch of peripheral ethnic dance forms. The majority of jobs still happen to be in classical ballet and in modern dance. Very few of our undergraduates come into college to get an intellectual understanding of the dance world. They come in because they like to dance, and they hope they are going to become dancers. For me, our biggest issue is changing the image of college dance as being outside the professional dance world. That just is not true anymore. The standards for the faculty in the last twenty years have gone way up. As the economic situation becomes worse, there are a lot of retiring dancers out there who want jobs, and the job market in academia is becoming a very desirable one. The standards for being hired are going up and up. Also, the standard of student ability is up because the magnet schools and high schools of performing arts are feeding better dancers into the college departments.

HOW ARE WE PREPARING OUR STUDENTS AND FOR WHAT ARE WE PREPARING THEM?

Patty Howell Phillips: Nancy, in your opening statements for the Southeast Regional American College Dance Festival, you talked about how, over twenty-one years of this organization, we have seen the line between the professional dancer and the university-trained dancer become less distinct--with more crossovers. That's a wonderful thing.

TW: One thing that's happening, particularly in modern dance, is that we seem to be one of the sole resources for learning contemporary dance. Students choosing careers in ballet have more alternatives, more places to learn.

GW: It is the same with choreography. Our primary mission, we hope, is to create new artists.

NSF: In making dances, as well as dancing, you are learning how to handle the materials. Specifically, concerning your question about preparing students, through the insistence on professional faculty, professional class situations, and circumstances that are every bit as intense and excellent as you would find in studio or conservatory.

Lynda Davis: Actually, those who leave to go to New York just don't get the kind of personal attention that they get in a university situation, where they have to be in class five days a week. And where their growth and development is monitored over a four-year period.

TW: Maybe one of the points that we want to make in response to this question is about making artists. That is the investment.

GW: I am not sure that you can make them, but you can nurture them. In the university setting you have a free theater, dancers, and the environment to support the blooming of talent, that you wouldn't have if you tried to scrape it all together. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.