BARBARA LAND IS GOING TO NEW GUINEA TO STUDY THE DANCE STYLES OF CANNIBALS.
Surprisingly, being the director of the University of Nevada, Reno dance department
has its inherent dangers. But a passion for this beautiful art form apparently
can take one to the ends of the earth and into harms way.
They live deep in the jungles, she says, ominously.
Normally, her days are a little less treacherous, yet nonetheless exciting.
This vivacious educator oversees the burgeoning dance department, which recently
was paired with the music division to be recognized at UNR as the Department
of Music and Dance, part of the Liberal Arts College.
We are coming from being viewed as a part of physical education/exercise
science to now as a part of the arts, says Eduardo Armendizo, dance program
administrator and jazz instructor.
With more than 650 UNR students taking classes in ballet, modern, and jazz
dance academics and technique, most would agree it was high time for the department
to get its due. The program currently offers a minor in dance and soon will
have an accredited major.
Adding dimension to an already strong staff, Juilliard-trained Vincent Brosseau,
a dance professor from Paris, also recently joined the department.
He will help change the look of dance in all of Northern Nevada,
But the creative force of the dance department has been working on that charge
for some time now. In fact, the UNR dance program has been presenting dance
concerts for the past 25 years, and teaching students about the culture and
technique of dance. Its work encompasses a complete program of lectures, demonstrations,
master dance classes, and choreographic works by extraordinary and respected
artists from around the world. For instance, as part of the UNR dance program
annual spring dance concert, the renowned Martha Graham Dance Ensemble will
appear to a sold-out audience at UNR May 5-9. (TIME magazine named Graham Dancer
of the Century.) The spring concert also showcases the talents of faculty
dancers and local professional dance artists/choreographers.
The department also takes its show on the road.
We pack up and take the whole show out to the Marvin Piccollo School,
a school for children with disabilities, says Land.
In addition, on May 7, the entire show (including the Martha Graham dancers)
will perform at Lawlor Events Center for 5,000 school-aged children from around
Land and her staff believe it is crucial for children and the local community
to have access to this kind of culture.
With the loss of the Reno-based Nevada Ballet in 2002, there was no dance
in Northern Nevada, says Land. We are a frontier state and we are
it these days. Otherwise, you have to drive to San Francisco.
The department also stages a Fall Dance Festival, which features student dancing
I choreographed a piece that was 10 minutes long with seven dancers and
one that was a solo, says Tara Rynders, a former student who has graduated
from UNR but still dances with the department. A Washoe Medical nurse in the
pediatric unit, Rynders (whom Land calls one of our best dancers)
hopes, in the future, to implement a kids dance therapy program.
In addition to the fall and spring performances, the department leaders have
stepped out in other ways in the community. Students and faculty members collaborate
on performances for the Reno Opera, the Reno Philharmonic, special events and
fund-raisers, shows during breaks at baseball games for thousands of people,
and even shows at the casinos.
We recently did a show at the Nugget that was commissioned by the wool
and apparel industry for their conference, Armendizo says.
In addition to being rewarding to the community, Rynders and other dancers
in the program have found dance to be therapeutic.
I basically grew up dancing, she explains. I was in a play
at the age of 7 at the Reno Hilton called Music Man. Through the years,
dance became my refuge from life you live through that moment by releasing
your emotions through dance. In dance you use every part of your body, and from
your toes through your fingertips you can just release things both good and
Another student dancer, Arthur Reloj, is getting a graduate degree in computer
science. He uses dance as his creative outlet.
My degree is very different from dance, he says. I dont
think I could do the computer science degree without doing the dance.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON DANCE PERFORMANCES OR CLASSES, CONTACT EDUARDO ARMENDIZO
AT 784-7015, EXT. 245 OR VISIT UNR.EDU/CLA/MUSIC.
Erinn Morgan has a closet full of tap shoes and tutus from childhood dance
days. Her written work also has appeared in Manhattan Style, Forum, and