What's new at the School of Dance?

08 February 2018 Published in News and Announcements

64337ffeaae67237594d79a8ceda7ce6 M 1Dear Alumni and Special Friends, 

We made it to the second semester of our second year as a School of Dance. Our first year was not without its share of difficulties but in the end, we reflect the hearts of the students, staff, and faculty who continue to transform the idea of this School into a living reality. And I’m happy to report (and as an alum this won’t surprise you) that this School does indeed have a lot of heart.
 
My original goals for the first year were to listen, work on communication, and slowly direct change. It became apparent within a very short time that listening would require more time than any one person could possess and has thus it became a theme for my second year as well. Too many people do incredible things within the School for me to be able to truly understand hear them all in two semesters. Working on communication across the School also required quite a bit of time, especially respectfully establishing the proper channels. This is something we will continually be working on. Directing change often depends on how well you know situations or people. Making decisions without fully knowing those details of the situations is a difficult task and, as you can imagine, many decisions have to be made daily as Director. Over these two years, hHaving good people on which to rely was indispensable.
 
Last year, in discussion with Jasmine Stack (MFA 2017) about her thesis, we kept talking about paths and our responsibility in making decisions around a path. How do you decide to go off path? How does one trust a path? How does a path get formed? Paths are big in Utah. Every mountain or hill has quite a few paths leading to the top, and as a newbie to the landscape, it is sometimes difficult to make the right decision. Having others to help makes a big difference.
 
In our conversations, there was a congruence between our talks and my first year as Director. There is no well-worn path for us to take as a School. The two previous Departments had clear paths outlined forged by the years of hard work from those who passed before. At this point, in part or in whole, the School of Dance trail does not yet fully exist. We can see the mountain but we are not exactly sure if the paths we took before will be useful for everyone in the new venture. An explorer at heart, I’m excited by the possibilities… and I know I’m not alone in feeling this especially as new possibilities emerge.

Luc Vanier, Director


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Greetings, Alumni!

As we move through our Spring semester here at the U, I reflect on what an exciting and inspiring year we have experienced thus far in the Ballet Program. Our halls and studios have been filled with guest teachers and choreographers, alongside our incredibly talented faculty and students; and our days have been filled with rehearsals, classes, performances, and the indelible joy of an environment brimming with tradition and innovation.
 
This past summer, our second annual Utah Ballet Summer Intensive was an incredible success, thanks in large part to the remarkable work of the summer program director Maggie Tesch. Dancers from across the country flocked to the U to work 

with a variety of impressive teachers, such as Susan Jaffe, Victoria Morgan (one of our very own alums!), Franco DeVita, and Peter Boal, to name just a few. 
 
In the Fall, we welcomed many new faces to the Ballet Program—not only a new crop of impressive freshman ballet majors, but also the first cohort of graduate students in our newly re-envisioned MFA in Ballet. Additionally, we were thrilled to embrace three new faculty members who have proved vital to the progress of the Ballet Program: Kate Mattingly, Pablo Piantino, and Christine McMillan.
 
We also honored this year’s Distinguished Alumna, Barbara Hamblin, at the College of Fine Arts Banquet and Legacy Assembly for her accomplishments as a ballerina with Ballet West and as an integral figure in shaping the Ballet Program at the U. 
 Our Fall Utah Ballet Concert featured works both traditional and innovative, including: Auguste Bournonville's Konservatoriet staged by Jeff Rogers from Ballet West, a new contemporary work by guest teacher and choreographer Roderick George, and works by faculty members Luc Vanier and Melissa Bobick. In addition to Utah Ballet, our student choreographers presented a slate of their original choreographic work in the student-produced Ballet Showcase production.
 
We ended our Fall semester invigorated by these events, eagerly anticipating a busy and fulfilling Spring semester. When we returned to campus in January, faculty members jumped right into an eight-city audition tour for our BFA and summer programs, while simultaneously preparing for two major productions. Our Spring Utah Ballet roster boasts work by the inimitable Val Caniparoli, guest choreographer Penny Saunders, a new work by faculty member Jay Kim, and a beautiful re-staging of Swan Lake, Act II by Jan Fugit & James Ady. Our School of Dance Gala performance later in the semester will feature new works by esteemed guest choreographers Michele Wiles and Mathew Neenan.

 
I am deeply appreciative of the wonderful people I have the opportunity to work with, and grateful to be in this place where we value embracing tradition while continuing to move ballet into the future. Remember that you are part of our history and legacy, and we sincerely hope that you keep in touch. As always, I look forward to seeing you soon in the Marriott Center for Dance.
 Wishing you and yours a beautiful Spring.
 
Warmly,
Melonie B. Murray
Ballet Program Coordinator


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Happy New Year Alumni!
 
From all of us in the School of Dance, we hope that your holidays were full of love and wonderful celebration. We have returned to the spring 2018 semester with renewed energy as well as some shifts.  Steve Koester who has served as the Program Coordinator for the Modern Dance Program, is currently on a sabbatical and for now, I have stepped into this role. It brings me pleasure to write this update for you and as I do so, acknowledge the many generations who have danced with us in the Modern Dance Program over many years. I also think about the amazing colleagues with whom I’ve had the pleasure to work alongside. I value the long-time connections we share and hope to see you or hear from you soon with your own updates.   
 
Here are some details from the past year:
Molly Heller has now moved into a tenure-track position in the School of Dance’s Modern Dance Program.  Daniel Clifton has moved into a Career-line faculty position and Sara Pickett has shifted from a part-time Adjunct to a Career-line position as well.  We are so grateful to have them all on board as full-time, incredible artists and educators.
 
Salt Dance Fest, now moving into its ninth year, has continued to bring guest artists from around the world to Salt Lake City each summer as well as include some of our School of Dance faculty to explore new creative territory over the summer by offering special workshops. The 2017 lineup included guest artists Joanna Kotze, Shinichi and Dana lova Koga, Idan Shirabi, Katie Scherman and School of Dance faculty member Molly Heller.  Be sure to visit the School of Dance’s website for the upcoming 2018 roster of amazing artists including guests Katie Faulkner, Omar Carrum, Wally Cardona and School of Dance faculty Eric Handman and Pablo Piantino. Join us if you can!Molly Heller’s evening-length dance work “very vary,” originally produced at the Eccles black box last May with music composed and performed live by Michael Wall, was later presented by the Shawl-Anderson Dance Center (SADC) in Berkeley, California in December 2017  In San Francisco, Molly also presented her research on healing practices in dance for dance educators, taught two advanced contemporary technique classes accompanied by Michael Wall, and a composition class for teens at SADC.  Along with Michael, Molly also taught "True Grit: Building Technique" at ODC (Oberlin Dance Collective, a preeminent dance and arts organization founded in San Francisco) and promoted the undergraduate and graduate programs in the School of Dance. Alongside musician Albert Mathias, Michael also accompanied for over 100 participants in the Contact Jam at Finnish Hall in Berkeley, CA.During fall 2017, Michael Wall received a special invitation to “Loop: A Summit of Music Makers” in Berlin, Germany. Michael said, “it was an amazing experience. The summit was held in Funkhaus, the largest recording facility on the planet. Each of the three days was filled with 14 hours of presentations, performances, sound instillations and discussions on the current trends in sound and music education. The summit was hosted by Ableton, a software company that makes Live, the program with which I compose, perform and teach. I was invited by Ableton to attend because of how I am using the software in dance and in higher education.  Within the first few hours of the summit, I was already running around trying to attend too many things. After missing a session, I went for a fresh cup of coffee and ran into Gerhard Behles, the CEO of Ableton. We sat and talked for a bit. He was so interested to hear about how I was using the software and the work being done at the University of Utah, School of Dance. Ableton is extremely invested in music education and spent the majority of the weekend getting to know how they can best support us over the next year. My hope is to present at the summit next year, showing how the software is being used in dance classes and performances.”
 
During summer and fall 2017, I (Pamela) was invited to present and participate in three different conference events.  One of the most unique and inspiring conferences was Deaf Blind International in Aalborg, Denmark for which I co-presented with three collaborators from the University of Utah’s Department of Special Education including long-time collaborator, Kristen Paul in a session entitled “Teaching Concepts to Children Using the BEST Elements of Dance.” The presentation was based off of research collected from an ongoing UU Interdisciplinary Teaching Methods Course for Dance and Special Education. In Denmark, I met educators, clinicians, therapists, and families from around the world (many from Europe), who are passionate about improving quality of life for individuals with deafblindness and other multiple disabilities. Kristen and I were also invited to present “Interdisciplinary Teaching Model: Dance and Special Education” at the fall 2017 National Dance Education Organization’s Conference (San Antonio, TX).  During the summer of 2017, I was asked to present three sessions at the Dance Science & Pedagogy Conference & Performance Festival hosted by William Evans (Las Cruces, New Mexico) and perform a solo in one of the concert evenings choreographed by colleague, Nathan Dryden and entitled “The Shape Leaves.” Pamela’s scholarly sessions were entitled: “Contemporary Technique Class: Infusing Science,” “Anatomical Meaning-Making, Personalization and Agency,” and a panel discussion entitled “Dance Science” with Karen Clippinger, Peggy Hackney and others.
 
Early in 2017, Molly and Pamela received funding support from the Council of Dee Fellows at the University of Utah to host a first-of-its kind Wellness Immersion in the School of Dance from January 22-26, 2018 The three main guests included Jesse Zarritt (NYC & University of the Arts/PA), Michelle Boule (NYC BodyTalk Practitioner) and Debra Clydesdale (CO/Somatic Experiencing Practitioner and Acupuncturist). For some of the additional discussions and workshops, local guests joined including Erin Geesaman-Rabke and Carl Rabke (Feldenkrais & Embodied Life Practitioners), Jared Rawlings (UU School of Music), Jennifer Ellen (Yoga Instructor) and Tom Welsh (Courtesy Researcher at UU, and faculty at Florida State University).  Faculty member Kate Mattingly facilitated a panel discussion as well. The week-long event was designed to broaden student, faculty and staff’s understanding of emotional health, and to welcome diverse methods of approaching wellbeing within an artistic context as well as our School’s curriculum.  Throughout the week, students, faculty and staff had opportunities to immerse themselves in discussions, movement sessions, hear panel discussions, presentations and on the last day, see solo performances with Zarritt and Boule’ in the Marriott Center for Dance’s Theater. Thank you to everyone who participated. It was an inspiring week for many. 
 
With huge thanks to Ellen Bromberg for hosting and coordinating, The University of Utah School of Dance, Department of Film & Media Arts, and Salt Lake Film Society are pleased to announce their first collaboration for the 2018 International Screendance Festival presenting the films of internationally renowned Belgian dance filmmaker and composer, Thierry De Mey from March 9-11, 2018.  Along with an opening night celebration and screenings of his and other international works at the Rose Wagner Theater in downtown Salt Lake City, De Mey will offer a two-day public workshop at the University of Utah.  Be sure to check out all the updates online and join us if you can. Ellen writes: “De Mey’s instinctive feel for movement guides his entire work, allowing him to tackle and integrate a variety of disciplines. The premise behind his musical and filmic writing is the desire for rhythm to be experienced in the body or bodies, revealing the musical meaning for the author, performer and audience.  De Mey composes a choreography on choreography; he produces a work of creation by sublimating that of its partners. The image naturally involves music and dance in his creative process, giving his art the sense of a three-strand plait.  Everything shifts with De Mey, especially boundaries...From great vividness to nebulous atmospheres, each new opus from Thierry De Mey – be it film, composition or installation – represents a particular study of moving bodies. In their own way each one tells the magical story of time unfolding and man wrapped up in it."
 
This summary of events would not be complete without mentioning our incredible undergraduate and graduate students currently in the program. At the end of the fall semester, the third-year graduate students presented their thesis concert “Fugue,” the Student Concert Committee presented an evening of student choreography, the seniors as a part of their Making Dances class presented a showing of their work as they build towards their spring 2018 mainstage production (coming up in April 2018), and the fall 2017 Performing Dance Company concert featured performances by students across the entire program in a new work by guest artist Anna Azrieli and by faculty choreographers Pamela Geber Handman, Satu Hummasti and Steve Koester. If you live locally, don’t miss the upcoming Gala celebration across the entire School of Dance, taking place at Kingsbury Hall and featuring new works by renowned guests Michele Wiles and Matthew Neenan, new choreographies by faculty Eric Handman and Molly Heller, and a beautiful re-staging of Swan Lake, Act II.The spring 2018 semester also includes a trip for several faculty and students to the American College Dance Festival in Boulder, CO as well as Doug Varone’s company in residence at the University of Utah February 23-24, 2018. We are grateful to Utah Presents and the Varone company for collaborating with the School of Dance. Come see this inspiring company in performance joined by current dance students at the Marriott Center for Dance.  Details: https://www.nowplayingutah.com/event/doug-varone-dancers/
 
Wishing you a wonderful 2018. 
Best always,
Pamela Geber Handman
Modern Dance Program Coordinator