Spring break is upon us. What does this mean? As most students will depart from the University of Utah, leaving it barren and lifeless, 530 collegiate dancers and their adjoining faculty will be taking over campus. The American College Dance Association (ACDA), founded in 1973, will be hosting their Northwest Regional Conference at the U for the fifth time. From March 13 through 16, the U will, as U modern dance professor and ACDA coordinator Brent Schneider said, “Bring dancers together who rarely have the opportunity to see what’s going on in other colleges and universities.” Schneider has been part of the U Dance faculty for many years and has actually been responsible for hosting ACDA at the U for five years. He also hosted the conference twice at other schools. Throughout his time, he has seen the U Dance program go on from the Northwest Region ACDA to the “national concert, more than anyone else.” This collegiate program is near and dear to Schneider’s heart, and has become a favorite of the U dance program.
Who is responsible?
Schneider and his team of modern dance graduate students have been heading off this project with the help and support of dance department head Luc Vanier, Dean of Fine Arts John Scheib, fine arts fees grants, Utah Presents, Open Union Ballroom, the School of Biological Studies, the U theater department and the Kingsbury Hall technical staff. This team of sponsors, along with a large handful of student volunteers from the dance department, are making a conference of this magnitude and prestige successful. Schneider said, it’s a “huge amount of work and collaboration to put on this conference.” They have the support, and it’ll be incredible when finished.
What is happening?
Explaining ACDA, Schneider said, “I am offering about 70 classes and workshops. There will be six concerts, four adjudicated concerts” and dance showings screened consistently throughout the event. Classes from guest artists, visiting college faculty and our own U faculty, will cover a wide range of material, from the Limón Technique to capoeira to ballet basics. Throughout their four days on campus, dancers and movers can fill up their schedules with classes and workshops. It’s every dancer’s dream come true — an opportunity to dance all day, every day.
The conference will include two informal concerts only for the eyes of those participating in the conference and four adjudicated concerts open for public viewing. At these adjudicated concerts, each university in attendance is permitted to submit two pieces of choreography. “Adjudicators select eight to ten dances for the final Saturday night gala concert,” Schneider said. The qualifiers will be announced Saturday afternoon, giving dancers about six hours on the same day to prepare for the gala. After the gala, audiences find out which university will represent the northwest region at the National ACDA conference.
Who is visiting?
ACDA is bringing in other collegiate professors, guest artist and adjudicators for the conference. Schneider has also invited visiting artists, including Maestro Jamiaka of Volta Muida Company, Solange Gomez of Tabolado Dance Company and Rosie Banchero of Wofa SLC.
Adjudicators are selected from a list sent to Schneider and the northwest region committee from the National ACDA Committee. Schneider said, “We fly in three adjudicators through a collaboration with the national office.” He emphasized “a diversity of aesthetics among the panel.” Dancers Leah Cox, George Staib and Endalyn Taylor will grace the conference this year, providing expertise on the Gaga Technique, classical ballet, modern fundamentals and more.
How can I see it?
All four adjudicated conferences will be held at Kingsbury Hall. The performances are free and open to the public. Performances are Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights at 6:30 p.m. and Thursday afternoon at 1 p.m. There will be African dance classes from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and an improvisation jam held in the Union Ballroom Friday from 2:30 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. Those not participating in the conference are more then welcome to pop in and watch the fun, hear the drums and feel the contagious energy.