Magazine article Dance Magazine

Pittsburgh Goes Global: Point Park University Students Celebrate World Dance

Magazine article Dance Magazine

Pittsburgh Goes Global: Point Park University Students Celebrate World Dance

Article excerpt

Just a hop, skip, and a grand jete from the Monongahela River, Point Park University's burgeoning academic village expands past downtown Pittsburgh, while its global outlook embraces the outside world. This March, an annual food, craft, and music festival highlighted the flavors of Australia, Tibet, Ireland, Vietnam, and other countries. And at the month's end, the university's eight airy dance studios overflowed capacity, offering students a taste of butoh, Latin, Ukrainian, West African, and Middle Eastern dance.

While the food and music festival is an initiative of Point Park's Office of International Student Services and Enrollment, the dance festival is entirely student run. "The two international celebrations are independent events, but we try to overlap them," says Megan Meyer, current president of the Dance Club, which has sponsored Point Park's World Cultural Dance Week for the last four years.

A brainchild of past Dance Club president Shonica Gooden, WCDW was modeled on a program from her former high school that allowed students to explore dances of various cultures. Gooden, a 2011 grad who is currently dancing in Rogers + Hammerstein's Cinderella on Broadway, had hoped that a series of diverse master classes would not only expand the club's visibility across campus, but also provide artistic connections outside Point Park's Conservatory of Performing Arts.

"Exposing students to world dance is so important," says PPU jazz teacher Kiesha Lalama. "[This week] forces students to step out beyond what they know and it deepens their appreciation of all kinds of dance." Though PPU's dance curriculum already includes classes in character, folk, ballroom, and Dunham technique, WCDW "shows what else they are hungry for, and they make it happen for themselves."

Students began planning for this spring's festival last October. …

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