Visions for a Future Dance Minor
Views 90 | Time to read: 3 minutes | Uploaded: 11 - 25 - 2014 | By: Lindsey Twigg
I’d like to express both relief and dismay at the cancellation of the dance minor.
As a theatre major, I am relieved that funds are being put to profitable use again. Our department is small, so refocused funding is a welcome change. Furthermore, I understand that it is probably a load off of the theatre department faculty, who have wonderful aspirations for the dance program but possess neither the resources nor the energy to do an entirely separate discipline justice.
However, as a dance minor, I am sorely disheartened, as the few of us dancers have been for some time. However this is nothing new. While the theatre attempts to make space for dancers in fall concerts and spring Fringe festivals, the decreasing opportunities leave my passion and the passion of others for expression through the body wanting. I see a massive amount of talent in the dance minors of the class of 2017, and it’s a shame they are limited as such.
The steady decline of the program since Erlyne Whitman left has been apparent, and therefore a painful activity in which to participate. While adjunct dance faculty do their best to give interested students a solid education, the simple lack of a foundation and administrative position leaves dancers wanting for attention and basic educational direction. What we have seen here is deteriorated interest because of a deteriorated program, not the other way around.
The dance program lacks the funds and separate identity both as a department and discipline. Again, this is not to blame any faculty who are already hard at work doing what they know best: theatre. However, it is important to note that while dance and theatre share the stage, they are entirely two separate disciplines and ought to be treated thus. I am all for collaboration for theatre and dance;I have created pieces bridging the two in the past. However, dance cannot survive purely on collaboration.
It is worth mentioning that Westmont has indeed had a dance major in the past; I believe the decline since is not a matter of student interest, but of administrative neglect. Would the program have failed if a comparable replacement for Erlyne Whitman had been found? Surely not.
I am confident that creating an independent dance department with its own identity comparable to the other arts on campus, as well as an administrative chair, would attract both those on campus that have not yet expressed interest in the department and prospective students straight from the admissions process.
That said, I hope that, in the future, the academic senate will at least consider pursuing a pathway for creating a renewed dance program completely independent from the theatre and kinesiology departments. As a dancer myself, I believe that dance—whether classical or contemporary—is a valid form of worship and, more broadly, an expression of our God-given creativity.
It is in my opinion a discipline worthy to be pursued as rigorously by a collegiate institution as any other discipline. It’s a shame that such a beautiful art form has fallen into neglect, especially when Westmont prides itself on thriving arts departments.