The Standards Tension

  • 26 Jun 2012 10:05 PM
    Message # 983844
    Thank you both for establishing this working group. As a member of CORD's board, I'm so grateful to see this forum growing out of our conference and onto our site (and back again).

    I teach at Hunter College, part of the City University of New York. We have a BA in Dane and an MA (to begin this fall) in Dance Education. We are still hoping to get enough support to offer an MFA. It is a public college and our student body is extremely diverse in physical, cultural, racial, aesthetic, movement, age, sexual orientation, etc. The program has prided itself on its inclusivity and diversity, but I have often pointed out that this is mostly a visual palette we're talking about and not an aesthetic one. Many different kinds of bodies and practices are funneled through a specific pathway.

    We don't require an audition to major, but have placement classes at the beginning of each semester to determine whether a student enters into the ballet and contemporary technique courses that count towards the major (and serve as pre-reqs for other courses in the major) or whether a student is sent to our "Fundamentals" level. So, there is a curated entry into the program based on ballet and modern dance skill level.

    I have now been in the program for 3 years and have managed to convince my director that Hip Hop and W. African (both already offered) should be requirements for the major, using the initial argument that, if our students are expected to perform these forms for the Lecture/Demonstration course I lead, they need to study them first. I have also managed to expand the definition of a technique class to include these two forms for our dance company's requirements. 

    We had a brief residency with Onye Ozuzu on what a Diverse Dance Program can look like. She was brought in as the Chair for Columbia College in Chicago to help that program address diversity, after being a major force for the curricular shift at UC/Boulder. That helped move the conversation into a very present one for our director, who has been in her position for 2 1/2 decades. However, she clearly struggles with the tension of standards that was posed in your wonderful introductory questions. We are a very small program, in terms of full-time faculty. My director is a kind and generous human being, and I believe her administrative resources and 'standards' concerns are genuine, but I'm wondering if anyone in the group can point me in directions (readings, other programs) that I can add to my arsenal of change beyond "this is way overdue," "if not the City of New York, than who?" and "because it's right" arguments.

    Thanks. Best - Maura Nguyen Donohue
  • 11 Jan 2016 1:53 PM
    Reply # 3752655 on 983844
    Lore
    Of the panoply of website I've pored over this has the most veacirty.
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