Ballet, modern dance departments to combine

By By Jake Hibbard , Staff Writer

By Jake Hibbard , Staff Writer

The U is one of the only universities in the United States that has two separate, unaffiliated departments for ballet and modern dance8212;and that’s about to end.
The U’s ballet and modern dance departments will become one school. The combining, which will occur July 2010 and be called the U School of Dance, is a product of much planning and discussion within the dance departments and the College of Fine Arts.
The idea of joining the two first came up four years ago, but didn’t enter serious discussion until May during a retreat including faculty from both the ballet and modern dance departments, said Brent Schneider, associate dean of the College of Fine Arts. While at the retreat, 23 faculty members unanimously voted in favor of a single school, he said.
“The programs we have are solid, but the way it’s constructed limits opportunity for growth and development,” said Raymond Tymas-Jones, dean of the College of Fine Arts, on Thursday when addressing about 80 ballet and modern dance students, faculty and staff. “We put them together to expand their growth.”
The retreat’s keynote speaker was Bruce Marks, the former artistic director of Ballet West, the prominent Utah-based ballet company. He talked about how there is little division between ballet and modern dance performers in today’s professional world. Schneider said Marks’ influence was integral to convincing faculty to combine the departments.
Schneider said the creation of the School of Dance was partly because a one-department system has become the national norm, and he hopes this will allow more collaboration between the two.
“We want to better prepare students for a professional working environment,” Schneider said.