A ‘transition year’ for UAA’s dance program

The dance program through the Department of Theatre and Dance is going through a few changes.

Before the fall semester started, it was made known that assistant dance professor, Brian Jeffery, resigned from his position. This change is making the dance program “take a hit” in a few places.

Dance classes are still being offered, though the Department of Theatre and Dance Chair, Dan Anteau, said they’re being “micromanaged,” and the department will most likely be “restructuring” the program for a better fit.

Previously, the department would put on two dance shows in the year: “Dance in Performance” in the fall and “New Dances” in the spring. Jeffery was the main creative director behind the performances, and now that he is no longer working at the university, theatre and dance faculty and dancers wanted to make sure something was still offered.

UAA’s Dance Club decided to step in and put on the performance this fall while things get sorted out in the Department.

“There is no threat to the [Department of Theatre and Dance’s] dance program; the dance minor is very valid, the degree in theatre with an emphasis in dance is still very safe,” Marissa Citro, Dance Club vice president, said. “The dance department still exists. It’s just this kind of weird [time] — we’re calling it a ‘transition year.'”

The Dance Club is already rehearsing for their November show with auditions having already taken place during the first week of the fall semester. Instead of “Dance in Performance,” the show will now be called “UAA Dance Club Student Showcase.”

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The show, which runs Nov. 8 – 11, boasts 23 dancers and five student choreographers; the club is looking at having some special guests be a part of the performance, too.

The ticket sales, which will be $10 each, will go back to support the club. Changes in venue for the performances will occur. Instead of utilizing the theaters in the Fine Arts Building, the club will be putting on their show on in the Professional Studies Building’s dance studio.

“It will be a little different with the lighting aspect of things and the theatre feel, but we’re going to dress up the PSB to make it feel as close to a theatre feel,” Marlee Hughes, Dance Club treasurer, said.

Since it is a student-run club, the girls are working hard to balance their scholastic work, the club and putting on the performance, altogether in their everyday lives.

“[The performance is] a labor of love like nothing before. It’s purely made of the love that we have for this entire program and each other and our dancers,” Stephanie Andrus, Dance Club secretary, said.

Andrus, Citro and Hughes are three of the five student choreographers.

The faculty in the Department of Theatre and Dance are looking at this opportunity positively as well.

“To a certain extent, their carrying this on is partially a really good training ground for any arts-based student who will someday likely graduate and often times try to run their own company,” Jill Flanders-Crosby, dance professor, said. “So in a sense, it’s an educative experience as well, and it’s one that, right now, is working fairly positively.”

The Dance Club has support and help from Flanders-Crosby, Anteau and other dance members in the community, including UAA alumni.

“It’s exciting watching the dancers from Dance Club. They have really stepped up to put this concert on and, by all accounts, it’s going to be a pretty spectacular concert,” Anteau said.

It is still being decided what the following semester will look like. The search for someone to fill in Jeffery’s spot is in the works, though it is uncertain how long it will take.

For more information on Dance Club, visit their Facebook page, UAA Dance Club, or reach out at uaadance@gmail.com.