Author: Anna Oseran
Much to the demise of dancers at Oxy, the current economic crisis may be pushing the school even further from establishing a Dance major or minor program.
The Theater department currently houses Dance courses and would be largely responsible for pushing this program through. In order for a minor or major to be approved by the Academic Planning Committee, the Theater department would need to request a new, full-time tenure-track position in dance, an action that may not be feasible in the near future.
“The reality of the situation is that we currently have two positions in the Theater major in the works, so a dance position would be down the road a few years,” Theater Arts Chair Susan Gratch said. “In this economic climate, it is difficult to imagine in the near future.”
There have been a number of pushes over the past 10 years to explore the possibility of a minor in Dance, a program that Dance instructor Francisco Martinez calls close to his heart. Martinez sees the minor as a stepping stone to a full major, but the outlook has been mixed.
Past students have petitioned the administration for individual dance minors and were granted them, but this has never been made available to all students. The Theater department has pursued the growth of dance offerings over the past five years, adding longer classes, choreography as a two-unit course at beginning and intermediate levels, a Dunham technique course and other selections of existing courses. Theater majors can also choose to choreograph for their senior projects.
Despite these boons, disgruntled student dancers list a host of problems with the current state of dance at Oxy. Some of the issue areas include the limited scope of technique classes offered, paired with the limited frequency of classes. “Three hours a week will do nothing to increase your skill and ability,” Religious Studies major Hannah Dreitcer (junior) said, adding that classes must be run at least three days a week. “But there is no communication. The only person we know to speak to is Francisco [Martinez], but he has no power.”
The new studio floor is another problem. “It is dangerous to dance on and almost guaranteed to cause injury through slipping,” Dreitcer said, also mentioning the potential joint injuries from improper springs in the floor.
Dreitcer has been in Dance production for two years and taken beginning and intermediate ballet on pointe every semester at Oxy. She is in her third semester of Dunham technique and Modern and has completed a course in Tap/Jazz as well.
Dreitcer is not alone in her disappointment with Oxy’s Dance program. History major Molly Englert (senior) has taken ballet all four years at Oxy and Dunham technique for three years, in addition to participating in Dance Production.
“I was promised a dance minor on my tour as a prospective student,” Englert said. “It was a large part of why I wanted to attend Oxy. A dance minor is available at many colleges, especially the colleges I looked at in 2005.”
Despite display of student interest, however, the Theater department lacks the necessary funds to promote a Dance program.
In recent weeks, Oxy has hosted Aztec, First Nation and Haitian dancers on campus, all of whom spoke during their performances of the importance of dance. There is also an upcoming Faculty/Student Dance concert on Nov. 20.
“The Oxy community must recognize the benefits of dance on campus, or else these dancers would not have been invited,” Dreitcer said.
Aside from the cultural perspective, students also want the major in order to receive credit for their hard work. “It would benefit dancers like myself who take two or three dance classes a week and spend every afternoon at the dance studio,” Englert said. “I want the students in my dance classes who dance up to five hours a day to receive the credit they deserve.”
No solutions have been proposed at the moment. “I would like to see a meeting called between interested students, Theater faculty and whatever administrators are relevant,” said Dreitcer, “just so that everyone can be on the same page and hear what the steps are and what we as students need to do to make this happen.”
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