August 8, 2007

Students Make Their Pointes With Attitude

By Tory Winkelman

Embrey Engineering Building

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With each step and sauté, push and pull, students in the Division of Dance learn their craft while perfecting their art. Beyond the barre, dance students show off the forms they have fine-tuned in the studio with Main Stage productions in the fall and spring, as well as a graduate thesis performance by the division’s M.F.A. candidates in April. The concerts feature historic and contemporary works by such choreographers as Martha Graham, George Balanchine, Judith Jamison and Paul Taylor, among others. SMU must obtain approval from the choreographers’ foundations for performances of these works, which is granted to few college dance departments. Students receive training from such faculty members as Dance Chair and Professor Myra Woodruff, a former member and teacher with the internationally renowned Béjart Ballet Lausanne in Switzerland and with the Martha Graham Dance Company. In addition, students have opportunities to work with internationally renowned guest choreographers, including Alison Chase, co-founder of Pilobolus Dance Theatre; Arthur Mitchell, founder of the Dance Theatre of Harlem; and Douglas Becker, founding member of the Frankfurt Ballet. For the informal Brown Bag Series, staged at lunchtime in the lobby of Owen Arts Center, students don their choreographer hats and create works of ballet, modern, jazz, or tap that are performed by their peers. As a result of their broad-range exposure, dance graduates are members of numerous companies, including the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Dance Theatre of Harlem and David Parsons Company, among others. For more information: