The University of Utah Department of Modern Dance Blog

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

International Partnership/Berlin State Ballet School

In the spring of 2012, the Department of Modern Dance again participated in a cultural exchange with the Berlin State Ballet School in Germany.  This two-part program brought students, teachers and musicians of both schools to each others’ institutions to engage in creative inquiry, investigation and intercultural dialogue on dance and dance pedagogy.

For two weeks in April, members of the Berlin State Ballet School visited the Department.  Berlin faculty members Olaf Hofer (ballet) and Assohoto Jean-Hughes (modern) taught multiple classes to University of Utah students with musician Winni Rogel playing accompaniment on piano and djembe.  Berlin State Ballet students also had the opportunity to take class from University of Utah faculty and observe many classes across the curriculum.

In May, faculty members Sharee Lane, Rob Wood, Eric Handman and Donna White along with nine modern dance students from the Department traveled to Berlin for two weeks.  The University of Utah faculty members taught classes and showed choreography, while Utah students trained alongside dancers from the Berlin State Ballet School.

With each exchange, the partnership has grown, expanding to include more teachers, musicians and faculty, deepening relationships already established, and providing a more fertile ground for creative development.  Plans for the next exchange are already underway and may include the creation of a collaborative performance work between the two institutions.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Meet the New Faculty!

This fall, the department of modern dance welcomed two new full-time faculty members to our program, Shaun Boyle and Jessica Pearson.  Shaun replaces I-Fen Lin who returned to Taiwan last spring to have a baby and pursue a career in her home country

Part of the department’s mission; to promote student and faculty growth as professional dance artists, critical inquirers, and community members, includes a commitment to diversity.  In filling these new positions, the department not only sought artists and teachers of the highest caliber, but also individuals who would increase the diversity of the faculty and the course offerings.

Shaun and Jessica stood out as exceptional candidates, for their excellence in the field as professional dancers and scholars, and for the new aesthetics, perspectives and personal experience they each bring.  Jessica comes to the Department as a College of Fine Arts Morales Fellow.  The Raymond C. Morales Fellowship Program was created to hire Post doctorate/Post MFA fellows for 2 year positions that serve to bring diversity and additional expertise to our college.

Shaun Boyle

Assistant Professor/Lecturer
MA in Choreography, Trinity Laban Conservatoire, BFA in Dance, NYU Tisch School of the Arts
Activities: Ballet & Contemporary Technique classes, Freshman Composition, Co-director of PDC (Fall), Rehearsal Director for PDC guest artist John Beasant III, Choreographer for PDC (Spring)
Background: Shaun’s work mines the overlap between ballet and modern with specific attention to movement quality.  Drawing on her professional experience with companies such as BalletMet in Columbus, OH and Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet in New York City and her undergraduate studies at NYU, Shaun emphasizes precision and clarity in technique class.  She feels this brings a different kind of challenge to University of Utah students, but insists “they’re ready for it.”  Shaun has enjoyed the new challenges of being a new member of such a big and busy department.  She confesses it can be overwhelming at times, but that the students great energy and interest in growing make each day rewarding.  She values being in an environment where students and faculty all learn from and support each other, and she looks forward to the opportunity for her own professional development.

Jessica T Pearson
Raymond C. Morales Fellow
MFA in Dance Wellness, Univ. of Colorado, Boulder. BFA in Dance, Towson University
Activities: Conditioning for Dancers, Modern Technique, (Co-teacher) Dance in Culture, Co-Director PDC (Spring), (Assistant teacher) Kinesiology, Senior Capstone and guest lecturer for Movement in Culture and Dance History.
Background: The first recipient of the Morales Fellowship, Jessica was attracted to the University of Utah by Raymond Tymas-Jones’ mission to bring greater diversity and inclusion into the college of fine arts.  As a former company member with the Cleo Parker Dance ensemble, Jessica has been a part of the rich tradition of black dance in America and is excited to bring a different dance aesthetic to the program.  Her approach to technique and dance training combines her extensive experience in Horton technique with her research in dance wellness, which includes cross conditioning and somatic practices.  Jessica has also been developing a resource handbook for students looking for a greater sense of community.