Dance Is Alive and Well in the Department of Theatre Arts

This year Ithaca College was fortunate to have Taylor 2, a touring dance company, on campus for a residency that exposed students to the unique Taylor modern dance style. Supported in part by a School of Humanities and Sciences Educational Grant Initiative award, two dancers from the company, Justin Kahan and Nic Ceynowa, spent two full weeks on campus, teaching both introductory and advanced modern dance and ballet classes. 

Theater arts management major and dance minor Samantha Abrams ’08 was enthusiastic about the experience, indicating that she learned a lot from the dancers’ very strong sense of technique and professionalism. Theater arts instructor Amy O’Brien appreciated the new perspective these professionals provided: “The guest teachers answered questions after every class and really taught our students specific and concrete ways to improve their dance, especially for the men. It was truly an exceptional experience for everyone involved.” 

Technique was not the only thing that these master teachers shared with students. At each class, conversation was lively, as the visiting dancers told stories about company founder Paul Taylor, life and work in a New York City–based professional dance company, and the challenges and excitement of choosing a career in dance. 

Dance was also highlighted in the Department of Theatre Arts this year during the quadrennial concert, Dance: No Translation Needed. The March production featured original work by faculty members Mary Corsaro, Amy O’Brien, Elizabeth Livesay, and Lindsay Gilmour. Forty students took to the stage, performing in the styles and traditions of jazz, ballet, modern, and tap. From a lively musical dance number set in a 1940s New York City bar to a haunting modern dance piece conceived to honor the suffering Tibetans struggling for freedom, students and faculty showed off their versatility and creativity.