The University of Utah Department of Modern Dance Blog

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

University of Utah Department of Modern Dance
Newsletter, vol. 2 (Fall 2012)

Much has happened since our last newsletter in 2010-11.  The fledgling initiatives of two years ago have become integral parts of the departmental architecture today, helping to set our current course and lay the groundwork for future growth.  SaltDance Fest completed its second successful installment last summer bringing international artists Marina Mascarell, Paul Selywn Norton and Vicky Cortes together for an immersive creative experience with participants from the dance dept. and guests from around the globe.  The Dance Minor and Screendance Certificate programs are now thoroughly ensconced and Steve Koester has dropped the interim label and officially become Department Chair.  

Formerly fresh faces, Sharee Lane and Rob Wood, have become familiar and join us in welcoming the new new faculty Shaun Boyle and Jessica Pearson.  Jessica comes to us for two years as the recipient of the Raymond C. Morales post graduate Fellowship.  Shaun takes over from I-Fen Lin, our fabulous ballet and contemporary dance teacher who left the department back in May.  I-Fen returned to her native Taiwan and gave birth to a baby girl in August.  We miss her dearly and wish her new family all the best.  

The announcement of the impending retirement of Abby Fiat sent shock waves through the department last spring.  The beloved faculty member, great spirit and a guiding light of the department will return for two more spring semesters before her official farewell.  Needless to say her absence augurs a period of transition for the department.   But, Steve Koester, not one to fear change, has embraced this time of ambiguity.  Seeing her absence not as a hole to be filled but as open space, he has not rushed to find a replacement.  Instead Mr. Koester has taken advantage of the time and space in the schedule to pilot an innovative approach to artistic exchange and staffing.

In the 2012-2013 academic year, a series of guest artists will teach through the curriculum for 3-6 weeks at a time. This approach offers a promising alternative to the traditional model of the guest artist, who teaches a few workshops, sets a work on a handful of students and then moves on.  Instead over these eight months, guests John Bessant III, Elena Demyanenko, Yannis Adoniou, Sidra Bell and Daniel Squire will teach technique classes and/or creative workshops as well as set choreography benefiting the entire student body.  

2012-2013 has gotten off to a rollicking start.  We can’t wait to share with you all the adventures, accomplishments and accolades already accrued by our faculty and students.  Many thanks to all who have contributed to our program.  Your support is invaluable to our students and our future.  We hope you will help keep us up to date, let us know about your current work and research.  

Please join us in two weeks for our next installment: In the Studio with John Beassant!

- Alysia Ramos

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