Sep 7, 2017
Arts Council, Dance

This Arts Council-funded opportunity is entitled the American College Dance Association (ACDA) Conference, proposed by Kim Brooks Mata, Head and Artistic Director of the Dance Program at UVA

The central aim of this 4-day annual event is to increase the prominence of dance in higher education by exposing students to a wide variety of master classes, workshops, scholarly research presentations and opportunities for student and faculty exchanges in and out of the studio. Additionally this conference provides a well-attended venue to celebrate the creative potential and artistic excellence of students in the areas of choreography and performance through adjudication, informal concerts and feedback sessions. Conferences also provide students with the opportunity to attend a professional performance and to take master classes with the professional adjudicators, experts from the field.

Each year, depending upon resources and the location of the conference, the Dance Minor program of the Department of Drama at UVA  takes between 12-16 students ranging from 1st-4th years to ACDA. This conference allows students to explore a multitude of classes, workshops, discussion panels and lectures with guest artists and faculty from institutions within our region and beyond. Students and faculty also get the opportunity to attend multiple performances, providing exposure to the choreographic work of peers, colleagues and professional choreographers.

By bringing original student and faculty creative work from UVA to the conference for adjudication, students and faculty receive critical review of their choreography and performance by a panel of 3 highly respected dance professionals. In the feedback sessions, students learn not only from the comments on the pieces that we bring from UVA for adjudication, but also from the comments made regarding other institution’s work. The adjudicators model how to provide critical, analytical,  and generous feedback which helps our students continue to develop their choreographic sensibilities and their ability to discuss work.

This conference introduces dance students at UVA to new ways of thinking about dancemaking and the creative practice that will inevitably influence the work that they perform in and make for dance program concerts. Once exposed to the performances by students from other institutions, UVA students are able to contextualize their own creative and performative work and discover the high caliber of the dance minor program. Finally, this conference has served a vital role in the UVA dance community’s growth and development. Numerous students have reported that their attendance and participation in ACDA event has further strengthened their connection to the program and its members.

Spending hours of time in the vans on the drive to and from the conference provides participants time to interact with one another outside of the classroom and to discuss dance and other matters in a more relaxed atmosphere. Staying in the same hotel, attending classes and performances, and sharing meals with peers and faculty members increases the strength of our program and its close-knit nature by permitting our students to get more familiar with each other while also seeing the faculty together and in a different light. This has led past students to declare the minor, or finally reach the point of putting forth a choreographic proposal for one of our programmatic concerts.

Student involvement in the American College Dance Association conference helps to hone and expand upon their choreographic and performance skills. This growth is visible to audiences in the performance of the dance program’s bi-annual concerts. UVA faculty also teach classes at the conference, exposing students from other institutions to its pedagogy and program. As a result of faculty-taught classes, the UVA Dance program has been approached by multiple students who have begun to seek out these classes after having heard about or participating in them in previous years.

This impacts the visibility of the dance program at UVA and not only continues to build upon its growing reputation within the region, but also highlights the exceptional caliber of its faculty and students. Through UVA’s active participation in the adjudicated and informal concerts, as well as the various classes offered, the technical and artistic level of faculty and student dancers is evident to those attending the conference from within the region and beyond. Participation in ACDA contributes to the continued growth and advancement of UVA’s Dance Minor Program by strengthening the technique and artistry of its student participants, and by increasing its visibility to students and colleagues from peer institutions from within and outside of our region.

Check back for more information on this Arts Council-funded project’s unfolding timeline.

The Arts Council provides advocacy, advice, and support in the Arts at the University of Virginia. It strives to develop and strengthen the bonds of interest and participation among the Arts Departments, their associated programs,  and their alumni and friends; to advocate on their behalf; to advise and assist with communications; and to help raise funds in support of academic programs, facilities, and special events. Among its multitude of arts advocacy efforts, the Council awards annual Arts Council Grants. These grants have, and continue to play an instrumental role in a number of  residencies, workshops, project and research-based endeavors proposed across Arts Grounds annually. This series of articles will highlight each funded project and serve to inform the UVA community of their unique timelines, progress and outcome reports.

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