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Hope College June 2014 : Page 12

Campus Profile National Personal I Reputation, 120 alumni, a cohort spanning the entire four-decade history of the program, and attending not only from around the country but even overseas. “Making the decision to come back was simple,” said Charlotte van Coeverden ’02, a dance major who returned for the March 7-9 reunion from Brussels, Belgium. “The Dance Department is my Hope College family.” van Coverden taught dance to children for several years after Hope and now works in digital media sales. Even though her career today doesn’t involve dance professionally, she contiues to find the lessons she learned, and especially how the department taught them, valuable. “The program instilled teamwork, grew my confidence and helped me learn how to accept constructive criticism,” she said. Dance began at Hope through the dedicated, visionary efforts of Maxine DeBruyn, who is the Dorothy Wiley DeLong Professor Emerita of Dance at Hope. Professor DeBruyn, who has continued to teach at the college since retiring in 2006, introduced the Impact first dance class in the mid-1960s. The first annual faculty-choreographed concert, “Dance I,” was held in March 1975, the same year that dance became an academic minor at Hope. The academic program became a major in 1984, and has been accredited by the National Association of Schools of Dance since 1985. The department today includes five full-time faculty as well as a variety of assisting and guest faculty, with a strong combination of technique and theory. Technique emphases include ballet, Hip-Hop, jazz, modern, and tap, with a range of other courses in composition; historical dance; specialized topics such as sacred dance, dance therapy, and skills and preparation for dance careers; and more. Hope also offers a K-12 dance-education major as well as elementary and secondary dance minors. The coursework is complemented by numerous performance opportunities, including not only the annual March concert (which spans two weekends), but four student-choreographed dance concerts near the end of each semester, and involvement with affiliated companies such as H2 Dance Company (formerly IDT and dANCEpROjECt/Aerial Dance Theater), Sacred Dance and the Strike Time Dance Company that visits schools. Choreographing original pieces and working with faculty and other students in preparing pieces is itself a research experience, but students also become involved in research projects within the department as well as in cooperation with other departments such as biology and psychology (as featured in the October 2012 issue of News from Hope College ). More than 320 students are enrolled in dance courses at any particular time. Of those, about 65 have declared dance majors or minors (that population is effectively higher, since the official count doesn’t include freshmen and sophomores who haven’t yet declared a major). t could be enough, when reflecting on the quality and impact of the Department of Dance at Hope, to look at the alumni notes in the “Where Are They Now?” section of the program’s website. It could be enough to know that the program is nationally accredited, or that it is one of only 250 arts programs of all types nationwide— among them not only dance, but also drama, music and creative writing—highlighted in the book Creative Colleges: A Guide for Student Actors, Artists, Dancers, Musicians and Writers. (The college’s program in creative writing is also featured in the book.) But that’s not enough, or at least not all. Those are valuable indictors, to be sure, and they speak well of dance at Hope, but there’s merit in knowing how people feel abo ut their experience, not only at the time but in retrospect. On that measure, the response to the department’s anniversary celebration in March speaks equally well. Built around the all-department Dance 40 concert, the event drew Held in conjunction with the reunion, the Dance 40 concert featured a mix of works presented in earlier years as well as premieres of selections by the department’s newest faculty. “Ripples” by Matthew Farmer ’04 drew upon the film Oh Brother Where Art Thou (itself based on The Odyssey ) for inspiration. (Photo by Erik Alberg ’90) 12 News News From From Hope Hope College College

National Reputation, Personal Impact

It could be enough, when reflecting on the quality and impact of the Department of Dance at Hope, to look at the alumni notes in the “Where Are They Now?” section of the program’s website.

It could be enough to know that the program is nationally accredited, or that it is one of only 250 arts programs of all types nationwide— among them not only dance, but also drama, music and creative writing—highlighted in the book Creative Colleges: A Guide for Student Actors, Artists, Dancers, Musicians and Writers. (The college’s program in creative writing is also featured in the book.)

But that’s not enough, or at least not all. Those are valuable indictors, to be sure, and they speak well of dance at Hope, but there’s merit in knowing how people feel about their experience, not only at the time but in retrospect. On that measure, the response to the department’s anniversary celebration in March speaks equally well. Built around the all department Dance 40 concert, the event drew 120 alumni, a cohort spanning the entire four decade history of the program, and attending not only from around the country but even overseas.

“Making the decision to come back was simple,” said Charlotte van Coeverden ’02, a dance major who returned for the March 7-9 reunion from Brussels, Belgium. “The Dance Department is my Hope College family.”

van Coverden taught dance to children for several years after Hope and now works in digital media sales. Even though her career today doesn’t involve dance professionally, she contiues to find the lessons she learned, and especially how the department taught them, valuable.

“The program instilled teamwork, grew my confidence and helped me learn how to accept constructive criticism,” she said.

Dance began at Hope through the dedicated, visionary efforts of Maxine DeBruyn, who is the Dorothy Wiley DeLong Professor Emerita of Dance at Hope. Professor DeBruyn, who has continued to teach at the college since retiring in 2006, introduced the first dance class in the mid-1960s.

The first annual faculty-choreographed concert, “Dance I,” was held in March 1975, the same year that dance became an academic minor at Hope. The academic program became a major in 1984, and has been accredited by the National Association of Schools of Dance since 1985.

The department today includes five full-time faculty as well as a variety of assisting and guest faculty, with a strong combination of technique and theory. Technique emphases include ballet, Hip-Hop, jazz, modern, and tap, with a range of other courses in composition; historical dance; specialized topics such as sacred dance, dance therapy, and skills and preparation for dance careers; and more. Hope also offers a K-12 dance-education major as well as elementary and secondary dance minors.

The coursework is complemented by numerous performance opportunities, including not only the annual March concert (which spans two weekends), but four student-choreographed dance concerts near the end of each semester, and involvement with affiliated companies such as H2 Dance Company (formerly IDT and DANCEPROJECT/Aerial Dance Theater), Sacred Dance and the Strike Time Dance Company that visits schools. Choreographing original pieces and working with faculty and other students in preparing pieces is itself a research experience, but students also become involved in research projects within the department as well as in cooperation with other departments such as biology and psychology (as featured in the October 2012 issue of News from Hope College).

More than 320 students are enrolled in dance courses at any particular time. Of those, about 65 have declared dance majors or minors (that population is effectively higher, since the official count doesn’t include freshmen and sophomores who haven’t yet declared a major).

Numerous alumni are making their career in dance as dancers, choreographers, company directors or dance educators. Many students double-major, combining dance with majors ranging from business administration to chemistry to engineering to French to psychology, and carving out career paths that blend their chosen fields.

Regardless of whether they are working in dance or in another field, Linda Graham, professor of dance and chairperson of the department, noted that students are well served by experiencing the program in combination with the liberal arts education at Hope.

“Our students are capable of going on to become professional dancers if they want to, but they are also capable of becoming doctors, scientists, historians, lawyers—any profession you can name,” said Professor Graham, who has taught at Hope since 1983. “They are prepared to pursue their paths with confidence and curiosity and ability. The proof is in the pudding —you can look at our alums. I’m so proud of them all.”

William Crowley ’92, who flew in from Miami, Florida, for the anniversary celebration, is among the alumni making a career in dance. He is founder and artistic director of Next Step Dance, which he established 12 years ago. He had also returned to campus in November to deliver a lecture, lead a master class and adjudicate the fall student-choreographed concerts, and is demand internationally as a teacher of Graham Technique, with recent appearances in California, Michigan and New Mexico, and travel forthcoming to Belgium, France and the United Kingdom.

“The dance program at Hope prepares you for all aspects of a career in dance,” he said. “Classes in technique, composition and repertory prepare the dancer for the stage. Dance history provides a context in which to place yourself in this long lineage of performers and artists. Scholarship courses educate the young artist on all of the important details on the business and financial side of the arts. Along with all of these valuable elements is the protocol, etiquette and respect that is taught in order for you to become a respectful and knowledgeable individual.”

“It is an all- encompassing and comprehensive program,” Crowley said. “Outstanding, and it has justifiably been recognized as such on a national level.”

The March anniversary celebration highlighted the program and its impact in a variety of ways.

“We wanted to take this time to celebrate what the faculty who have been here have developed, to engage with and enjoy what our new faculty are doing, and to look to the future,” Professor Graham said.

Dance 40 itself included not only the premieres of works by new professors like Matthew Farmer ’04 and Angie Yetzke, who joined the faculy in 2011 and 2013 respectively, but new interpretations of beloved pieces from the past, like “Snickerdoodles,” are staging by Professor DeBruyn and faculty colleague Nikki Flinn ’97 of a work by Professor DeBruyn from 1992, and “En Passant, Game II,” a re-visitation by Professor Graham of a contemporary ballet she created in 2004.

The emphasis throughout the weekend, though, was on the people, and the fellowship and affection shared across 40 years shined through repeatedly, especially brightly during the master class taught by Professor DeBruyn early on Saturday morning. Fully 95 of the alumni signed up for the event, prompting a hasty relocation to the Maas Center auditorium to accommodate them all.

“The master class with Maxine was the highlight,” Crowley said. “She is unique and one of a kind. It was so much fun to be around her energy and be a ‘student’ again.”

Professor Graham enjoyed seeing former students, but more deeply she enjoyed seeing multiple generations of Hope dancers talking together like old friends—even if they had just met. In a sense, she reflected, they were, united not only by their experiences in the department that had helped shape them, whatever the era, but by their mutual experience with an art they continued to love.

“There are so many experiences that are shared. There’s an instant bond even if you don’t know the person,” Professor Graham said. “You share not only the physical experience, but the dedication, the commitment, the do-or-die.” “I think there’s a tremendous vulnerability and consequent forming of trust and generosity that come when you dance with people,” she said. “And it’s humbling. And it’s wonderful.”

(Editor’s Note: Interested readers can enjoy the impressive “Where Are They Now?” alumni list, and learn much more about the Department of Dance, online.) hope.edu/dance

Read the full article at http://digital.ipcprintservices.com/article/National+Reputation%2C+Personal+Impact/1730279/212731/article.html.

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