Last semester, Judith Hook’s resignation from her post as head of the dance department left students and faculty concerned with the future of the program. Professors of Dance James Holland and Alycia Bright Holland organized a petition to provide students with an outlet to express their positive reactions to courses they have participated in the past and their worries regarding classes that will be offered next year.
One-hundred and fifty students signed the petition, and eight students went with Holland and Bright Holland to deliver it to the UR administration. Sophomore Julia Whistler was one of the students who accompanied the faculty members to speak with the deans.
‘We came in to show there was student support, to show student faces behind the petition, that we wanted to have the dance program and have it change for the better and not for the worse,” Whistler said.
Currently, UR has not hired anyone to replace Hook.
‘We don’t yet know who the new director of the dance program will be, so I’m not able to comment on that,” Dean of the College Richard Feldman said. ‘What I can tell you is that we have been working with the dance program to ensure that a rich array of courses will be available to students for the coming academic year. We anticipate that next year’s offerings will be similar to this year’s.”
Faculty and administers are continuing to work to keep the dance program running smoothly.
‘The dance program staff and faculty have been extremely helpful in facilitating the continuity of the program for the current semester and for next year,” Feldman said. ‘Discussions are currently underway on the processes to identify a new director for the Program.”
Holland emphasized, however, that the process of maintaining and expanding the dance program can’t be purely administration-driven.
‘My main thing is, I think that students should be opening up lines of conversation and communication with the administration within the existing pathways that are already in place like Town Hall meetings,” Holland said.
Students who have participated in the dance program, but have not been actively involved in expressing their views to the administration highlighted the dance program’s diverse offerings and unique lessons.
Senior and Publicity Chair for the Ballet Performance Group Sarah Allen commented on her past dance class experience.
‘Even though I was taking a traditional ballet class, the class exposed me to a wide variety of genres, such as African movement, that I would not have been exposed to otherwise,” she said.
Junior Hannah Arwe, who is currently taking an Aikido class, likes the diverse offerings.
‘It’s a good workout and I’m learning things,” she said. ‘I’m learning how to defend myself in a way that doesn’t use my personal strength but is more about balance, posture and relaxation. There are a lot more interesting kinds of dance classes that you probably couldn’t take in other programs, and it is a lot more diverse in what you can learn.”
Whistler, one of the students who presented the petition to administration, voiced sorrow that some dance programs were being removed from the curriculum.
‘I just received information saying that the Experiential Anatomy class that I took has been removed from the curriculum,” she said. ‘I wouldn’t take away any of the dance classes here. It is so hard to get into a dance class here because so many people want to take them.”
Whistler added that she loved the class material, the other students and the teachers who made the courses so worthwhile.
Holland expressed hope that the dance department would continue to grow and change.
‘There are a lot of great instructors in this program bringing a wide range of expertise and experience,” he said. ‘There is no question that the program needs to be improved in many ways. A lot of us have ideas, and we’re in the midst in many ways. A lot of us are ideas and we’re in the midst of trying to craft some proposals in that regard.”
Handis is a member of
the class of 2009