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Kamarck, Edward (ed.) / Arts in society: growth of dance in America
(Summer-Fall, 1976)

Symposium: training the dancer,   pp. [346]-[355] PDF (8.9 MB)

Page 349

William Bales
Emeritus Dean, Division of Dance, College at
Purchase, State University of New York.
What kind of dance education can/should
universities provide?
Every university in America should provide
programs in dance for its students. The pro-
grams should be presented as experiences in
the art of dance to all students (male and
female) by well trained and highly qualified
teachers. Since the language of dance is
movement, every student should be exposed
to general courses in movement experience to
acquire a fundamental knowledge of the
language and its basic laws of organization
as a communicative art. (Athletic activity is
a natural concomitant of movement, but
should not be the goal of the dance
Dance, therefore, should strive to provide a
liberating, exhilarating, and communicative
experience for students. The study of move-
ment skills, movement styles, and movement
forms should lead naturally to aesthetic and
expressive investigation. Students who wish to
continue more intensive experiences in dance
should be permitted to do so. Integration of
dance with music, visual art, drama, poetry,
aesthetics, psychology, history, etc. are logi-
cal sequential experiences.
When a university is able to establish a
degree program in the field, many other
options are possible.
Should dance most logically fall into physical
education or fine arts?
Dance should not be housed in the physical
education department. It is one of the most
highly expressive, as well as the oldest art in
the history of mankind. It has served man
historically as part of his religious and social
experience, and today, has become the most
popular and significant art worldwide for
youth and mature audiences.
Do you feel that the best way that companies
can be made financially solvent is to be
subsidized by a university?
An affiliation of a dance company with a uni-
versity is an ideal arrangement only if:
William Bales.
a.) The company is highly qualified artistically.
b.) If the company has imaginative vision
about its collaboration and integration
with the campus and the community.
c.) If the university sponsorship understands
the costs of such a company and is willing
to provide and/or secure sufficient funding
for qualitative dance programs and other
d.) Unquestionably new concepts of art/
education interchange and collaboration
have developed within the past ten years.
Much of this has been due to programs
and financing by the federal government
and its endowment programs for the arts.
A recent study has highlighted the inflexibility
of music departments (most departments in
1972 did not teach courses in jazz, blues,
rock, etc.). Is dance in academe confronted
with similar problems?
This is a controversial question for which
there is no simple answer. The aesthetic
parameters of an experience in the arts is nor-
mally the vision of one individual who defines
his/her objectives in that art; who knows how
much money he/she has to work with and
what the breadth and focus of the curriculum
must be. The director, dean, or chairman of
the division and the faculty would ultimately
establish the breadth and depth of the cur-
riculum for the objectives desired.
A successful performing artist usually learns
the limitations of his field, his energy and his

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