The future of the department of movement and dance at UR is in jeopardy. Judith Hook recently resigned from the position of director of the department; she plans to leave UR at the end of this academic year. Dance instructors James Holland and Alycia Bright Holland responded to the news with an e-mail to students expressing what Hook’s resignation may mean for the department.

In the e-mail, Holland said, ‘What this means for the future of the program is unclear. What is clear is that if you are someone who feels s/he has benefited from the program in some way, the time is now to speak up.”

Hook said that she does not know what will happen with the department of movement and dance.

‘I’ve chosen to resign from the University at this time because the administration’s behavior has led me to believe that they do not value movement studies as a serious discipline,” Hook said.

Hook has worked at UR for many years. The current program that she developed was inspired by the progressive curricula that have been implemented at University of California, Los Angeles, Oberlin College and University of Illinois. She said that the field of dance and movement is very exciting right now. It is interdisciplinary, which is why the classes taught here are not solely focused on traditional dance methods anymore.

In class, students learn about sensing, gravity and weight momentum. They learn to take risks and ask questions as well.

‘I think for many students it has played an invaluable role in their four years of education here,” Hook said.

Senior Stetmond Roberson agreed.

‘I found the dance program here to be an integral part in my learning,” Roberson said. ‘As a mechanical engineer I do not get the chance to express my emotions in the core curriculum. The dance program provided me a way to do something other than problem sets. The dance program not only taught me how to dance, it also taught me to be independent, self-confident and assertive.”

Dean of Arts and Sciences Joanna Olmsted commented on the implications of Hook’s resignation.

‘Dance is of great importance to many of our students, and we are committed to ensuring that this vibrant artistic form continues to be represented well on campus,” Olmsted said. ‘Before making any decisions about our next steps, we want to identify the best ways to meet the needs of our students in this area. We are currently taking into account input from the many individuals, including students, interested in dance.”

Other students who have taken UR dance classes commented on their experiences.

‘My class, Advanced Tap, only had four students,” senior Alexandra Schott said. ‘It was almost like personalized training. It really built my confidence because I had a teacher who could spend a lot of time with me.”

‘I really enjoyed my dance class. I have become familiar with other cultures and got lots of experiences about other people’s countries, history and their lifestyle through dance class,” senior Nasim Aghayan said.

Junior Libby Miga felt strongly about the subject.

‘The classes offered in the dance department are valuable to a wide range of students, from those who would like to pursue an art form or skill in which they were not previously given the opportunity to, to those simply looking for some type of expressive and fun release from the mundane routine of studying and sitting through lecture classes,” Miga said.

Miga plans to apply what she has learned through the dance department in her life experiences.

‘The U of R dance department helps create well-rounded students by not only exposing students to different types of art forms but also by creating an expressive outlet for students that they could benefit from for the rest of their lives,” she said.

Schott expressed her hopes that the dance department grows to encompass the student interest in dance on River Campus.

‘I hope that the extensive student interest in the dance department encourages the department to expand the number of classes,” Schott said. ‘All of the dance groups on campus have been growing, which demonstrate an interest and there are more people on [River] Campus not in dance groups who enjoy taking dance classes as well.”

‘My sadness is leaving the students and the faculty,” Hook said on the subject of her leaving. ‘The faculty is to be commended both for their knowledge and commitment.”

Hook stressed the importance of students sharing their opinions with the administration.

‘With my departure, I would urge students who have participated in the program to express their feelings and concerns,” she said.

Handis is a member of the class of 2009.



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