Three colleges that have formed innovative partnerships with dance artists
Many colleges invite big-name choreographers or companies to spend time on campus, but a dance department residency can sometimes be a superficial affair: A troupe arrives, performs, gives a master class or two and leaves. While these visits are invaluable for the guest artists, who get access to free rehearsal space and performance venues, students can end up with only minimal exposure.
Recently, however, colleges have been reimagining the dance residency, developing partnerships that allow students to interact with residents in meaningful ways. Sometimes these programs even reach beyond the dance department, involving scholars from across the campus. (Georgia Tech doesn’t offer a dance major, but that didn’t stop Arts@Tech from bringing in choreographer Jonah Bokaer.) Here are three residencies that break the traditional mold. —Margaret Fuhrer
Resident artist: Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company (they prefer to call their relationship a “partnership”)
Period of residency: Throughout each academic year since 2009
Nature of the partnership: Current and former artists from the company and New York Live Arts teach 12 full courses a year at Bard, including upper-level technique and composition courses for majors and introductory dance courses for non-majors. BTJ/AZ is also in full residency on campus for a week, typically in May, and the company hosts additional master classes, performances and campus-wide events to supplement its course offerings.
Above: Bill T. Jones at Bard. Photo by Karl Rabe, Courtesy Bard College.
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI
Located: Hattiesburg, MS
Degrees offered: BFA in dance education with K–12 licensure, BFA in dance performance and choreography
Period of residency: Two sessions in February and April, 2013
Nature of the partnership: Maryland-based ClancyWorks, led by Adrienne Clancy, has its own respected arts in education program, which made it a good fit for USM, one of the few schools to offer a BFA in dance education that includes K–12 licensure. During their USM residency, company members performed, taught master classes and created a new work with dance majors—but they also led several in-depth seminars on educational outreach and professional development for K–12 teachers.
Above: ClancyWorks’ Adrienne Clancy with USM dance majors. Photo by Julie White, Courtesy University of Southern Mississippi.
Period of residency: Bokaer was the school’s ARTech resident during the 2010–11 academic year, and is now in the midst of a two-year Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Building Demand for the Arts Program residency.
Nature of the partnership: Bokaer is known for his work in digital media. During his first residency, he developed a smartphone app with the help of Georgia Tech students from several departments, Mass Mobile, which lets audience members help control a show’s lighting design. Over the course of his current residency, he’ll be creating another app allowing people to participate in a shared movement-based experience. Bokaer has also performed on campus and led movement workshops for both Georgia Tech students and members of the surrounding community.
Above: A Jonah Bokaer workshop with Georgia Tech architecture students. Courtesy Georgia Tech
Todd Rosenberg, Courtesy Hubbard Street Dance Chicago
Alexandra Wells can always tell when a dancer hasn't read her summer intensive information packet. Sometimes, says Hubbard Street Dance Chicago's director of artist training, there's a quick fix for the lack of preparation. "You can go and buy a long-sleeve shirt after you burn your shoulder really badly in that first floorwork class," she says. But not bringing enough of your special-order pointe shoes? "That's really dire."
Between reading the fine print, shopping for necessities and ramping up physically, getting ready for a summer intensive takes more than just dancing a lot. We broke down a step-by-step timeline: