A! Magazine for the Arts

ETSU puts New Spin on Dance Classes

November 25, 2007

JOHNSON CITY - Dance at East Tennessee State University is taking quitea turn this fall.

As a new facet of the Division of Theatre in the College of Arts andSciences' Department of Communication, instructors say they hope dancewill become better recognized. "The marriage of dance and theater isthat rare thing ... a perfect marriage," said Pat Cronin, head ofTheatre and longtime actor and director.

This change allows students to take dance classes geared more towardchoreography and theater. Cronin said theater graduates have toldformer professors that choreography has been their weakest area inauditions.

In addition to the anticipated changes, instructors also hope for morevisibility, now that dance is no longer mixed in with physical educationcourses but is an active part of ETSU's theatrical endeavors.

"I believe dance will grow and expand much better," said Judy Woodruff,longtime dance instructor at ETSU and professional dancer, adding thatthe partnership should open new doors. "We hope to find a broaderinterest in students with dancing offered under Dance instead of PE,"she said, but advises checking under both listings - DANC and PEXS - in
the ETSU catalog of courses.

While dance and theatre have had a connection through the years, it is"being put to the test" at ETSU, according to new dance instructor CaraHarker, who adds, "I think they complement each other naturally."

Harker has been dancing since she was three, while Woodruff has beeninvolved in the ETSU dance program since almost 1982. "Without theamazing leadership of Judy Woodruff, the flame of dance here would havedied long ago," Cronin said.

In 2008, the ETSU dance division will present its first spring concert.Auditions were held early in fall semester and rehearsals are well underway. Most students chosen for the cast are required to take a repertorydance class, taught by Woodruff and Harker.

"I think the concert is a great way to give the dance program moreexposure," Harker said.

Both instructors hope more students will become interested in dance asan academic pursuit, and a minor in dance is also being discussed.Cronin said this should take place within the next three years, followedshortly by a theatre major.

Saying the ETSU Division of Theatre welcomes the dance addition, Croninsaid, "We are already collaborating in our curricula and in ourperformance schedule. With this new program, in addition to danceconcerts, you'll be seeing more dance-oriented musicals and operas."

For more information, email woodruff@etsu.edu