Kamarck, Edward (ed.) / Arts in society: growth of dance in America
Hammond, Sandra N.
Dance in academe: [dance in the universities--the first and second fifty years], pp. 336-339 PDF (4.0 MB)
dance in the universities - the ftrst and second fHft years approach, at least the college dance student earns a degree in a performing art from a faculty which includes professional perform- ers of that art. Most dance major programs have some stu- dents who aspire to be professional dancers. For most that goal is unrealistic, and for all it is tough to achieve. Here, then, is an impor- tant reason to have the professional dancer on the faculty-to provide first-hand experi- ence with respect to the competitive dance world outside the academy. The advice and the contacts provided by such a person need to be available to any college dance major. But more important than employment counsel- ing is the value of the artist on campus for assuring the vitality of dance itself. To observe Antony Tudor choreograph, for example, has to be an invaluable education for dance students on the Urvine campus where Tudor has been periodically in resi- dence. Or consider the opportunity to study four years with George Zoritch (University of Arizona) or David Wood (University of Cali- fornia at Berkeley). In the first instance, dance majors have the experience of regular instruction in the style of Russian ballet, and, in the second, in the theatre of Martha Gra- ham-both from artists with first-hand experi- ence. This is not, of course, to argue that any artist should be hired on a university faculty. Some are not good teachers, let alone adaptable to other features of the academic role. An artistic appointment must be screened and evaluated as carefully as any other faculty appointment. For the artist, the campus base has great economic benefits. For some, of course, those benefits do not outweigh the burdens of committee assignments, grading of students, faculty meetings, etc. For others, however, those are small enough penalties if, in exchange, the opportunity exists to choreo- graph and rehearse in rent-free space with "free" dancers, to obtain a technical crew (including costuming and publicity) at no per- sonal cost-all this preparatory to perform- ances in some of the finest theatres in the country, oftentimes with live music (glory, even on occasion a full orchestra). Further- more, there are colleagues in art, music, drama, and other disciplines with which to collaborate and a ready-made audience of hundreds, yea thousands, of students. As costs soar, and artistic deficits rise, more performing artists may well look to univer- sities for their very survival. Many civic theatres, symphonies, ballet and modern dance companies, now struggling for slices of the tax pie and competing for the dwindling 337