The Dance Department offers students the opportunity to make dances and to perform them. According to the late Ed Burgess, “When a dancer seriously explores the art of making dances the dancer matures, gains new confidence as a performer, and begins to value their own personality as an artist.” The department expects all students to be as involved in making dances as in performing in them, and we also emphasize the importance of learning to interpret the work of others, including fellow students, faculty, and guest artists.
The artist residency is an essential part of this training, allowing students to explore different approaches to the creative process and exposing them (and their audiences) to a broader spectrum of current dance artistry. Artist residencies immerse students in the professional model, create networking opportunities that often lead to post-graduation employment, and provide a vital example of an artist who has made a long-term commitment to the discipline.
The Dance Department presents a minimum of five concerts a year: Winterdances and Summerdances, which showcase the work of faculty and guest artists, performed by students; and New Dancemakers and Dancemakers, which feature choreography by undergraduate and graduate students, respectively. In addition, each summer an MFA Thesis candidate is chosen to either conduct a research residency on campus or co-present their choreography in one of our performance venues. Other performances include site-specific works with interdisciplinary collaborators, and Musical Theatre revues and productions.
In recent years, the department has received yearly grants from the Dance/USA American Masterpieces: Dance to restate various choreographers' works. Recent awards include Alwin Nikolais' "Water Studies" and "Tensile Involvement" in 2009, Garth Fagan's "From Before" in 2010, and Mark Morris' "Canonic 3/4 Studies" in 2011 and Arnie Zane's "The Gift/No God Logic" in 2012.
Thanks to a generous donor, the department also holds an annual commissioning project open to our alumni, the Dance New Work Award, to create new works for our undergraduate students to be performed on Winterdances or Summerdances. The first recipient, Suniti Dernovsek (BFA 2003), premiered “Always Merry and Bright” in 2010 and was followed by Gerald Casel (MFA 2007) who premiered “Mount Hope” in 2011. Colleen Thomas (MFA 2003) created “The year of Unremarkable Laughter” in 2012 and Cynthia Gutierrez-Garner (MFA 2010) premiered “A Very Old Man” in January 2013. New York Artist Rebecca Stenn (MFA 2008) is the fifth recipient with a new work to be presented in May 2014.