The University of Utah Department of Modern Dance Blog

Monday, March 2, 2015

Faculty Spotlight :: Pamela Geber Handman

“My research is in three different areas but each informs the other.” Associate Professor Pamela Geber Handman is telling me about her research. “Dance Science, Choreography/Performance, and Community Involvement are the three categories that I use to describe my work.” I asked some more questions to find out what is new in these areas and - wow! Summary: a lot. Check it out.

Dance Science
“I am co-authoring a chapter for a new book on Dancer Wellness, to be published via the International Association for Dance Medicine & Science Membership.  My co-author is Emma Redding, faculty at Trinity Laban in the UK.  The chapter we will be working on is focused on conditioning for dancers.  We'll be discussing an overview of physical conditioning, effective warm-ups and cool downs, strength and flexibility training, and an overview of bodywork techniques, cross-training, and a few dance specific systems.”

Pamela continues to coordinate meetings for the Dance Kinesiology Teachers Group (recently renamed Dance Science and Somatics Educators). In 2002 she co-founded the group with colleagues across the US to share teaching strategies and resources as well as host conferences for in-depth workshops and discussions. Pamela has hosted these conferences at the U three times (2003, 2007, & 2013). She co-organized the most recent gathering in 2014 at Linwood University in Missouri, featuring honored guest, Karen Clippinger. Pamela's recent presentations include "Designing a Contemporary Post Modern Dance Technique Class: A Teacher's Approach to Infusing Science" at the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science 2013 conference in Seattle. 

Pamela’s choreography was part of the Department's Fall 2014 Performing Dance Company concert. Her piece, Regarding Last Night, was an ironic take on Elvis Presley, Paul McCartney, Talking Heads, Lawrence Welk, polka and Yma Sumac. Together with her cast of 10 dancers she challenged herself to ask – Where does sincere tip to funny and how? (My answer: sincere tipped to laugh-out-loud funny pretty early on in the piece.)

Community Involvement

“Jump Start (2013) was a creative community project for individuals with Down Syndrome and their families, designed to explore dance and word play. I co-taught it with writer & poet Melissa Bond. Melissa and I worked with siblings, parents/children, cousins and caregiver/child, all ranging in age from 8 to adulthood and from diverse backgrounds.  There were 8 modern dance majors who served as teaching assistants in the studio and one Screendance Certificate student who assisted Alex Lee and his team of filmmakers from Twig Media Lab.  As a means of soliciting for community involvement, I advertised and connected through the Utah Down Syndrome Foundation, Utah’s Early Intervention Program (DDI Vantage), Tanner Dance, Imagination Place (Music Together), online parent newsletters focused on families with children with special needs, special education teachers in the Salt Lake valley, Utah Valley University and the Department of Special Education at the University of Utah.

Jump Start has had a myriad of unexpected rewards and further developments simply through new personal connections among participants and the various organizations involved. As I’ve connected with many special education teachers in public schools, my next step is to take a similar workshop into some of these schools next year and guide university students to do most of the lead teaching. Just recently, I was selected to develop this idea further in collaboration with a Professor in Special Education at the U, Kristen Paul. We received generous funding through the Utah State Office of Education to bring dance students together with Special Education students and to go to several off-campus sites for a larger scale community involved project. The documentary film of Jump Start will serve as an advocacy tool, promoting arts education for special education as well as greater integration (rather than segregation) of those with special needs. Also in the works is another family involved project like Jump Start, co-taught with Melissa Bond, and supported by the local non-profit, Arts Access.”

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