Kelsey Halloran, a major in rehabilitation science and pathophysiology, has used dance as a form of creative expression for most of her life.
She joined the Pitt dance set, a student organization open to anyone interested in the practice of dance, during its first year of college. She said she found a close-knit community that shared her passion for dancing.
“I feel like I might have transferred my first year without the dance program,” said Halloran, president of PDE. “Dancing was the only thing I could expect every week because it was where I found community before I could make friends.”
In an email sent this summer to current dance minors, the associate professor Elizabeth nagle say it Health, Physical Activity and Exercise Department will no longer be able to offer dance lessons after the 2021-22 academic year. As a result, the dance minor can be terminated, raising concerns among students who have signed up for the program.
The Minor in Dance is an 18-credit program that offers courses in dance choreography, history, production, pedagogy and more. Currently there are over 100 active members in PDE, many of whom are also enrolled in these courses. There are about 30 students with dance minors, and most of them are members of the PDE.
“Due to budgetary and administrative issues, it is possible that dance lessons will no longer be offered by the HPA department after this school year, and current and future applications for the dance minor have been suspended,” Nagle said in the email. “Therefore, it is important to do your best to register for your remaining dance classes for the upcoming 2021/2022 academic year. “
University spokesman David Seldin said the School of Education had not made any official decision on the dance minor’s fate.
“We appreciate the feedback we’ve received from students and appreciate the passion they have for minor dance, and the School of Education is evaluating how best to move forward,” Seldin said.
Seldin added that current dance minors may still have time to graduate by the end of this year.
“There will be 12 courses offered in fall 2021 and another 10 in spring 2022,” said Seldin. “The current students have received a new education advisor for the dance minor and have been given a study plan on the courses they still need to complete the minor. “
Halloran said the program is a creative outlet for many students and is crucial for healthy social lives.
“There are people at Pitt who are very passionate about dancing – it’s a huge part of our lives and we don’t want it taken away,” Halloran said. “I know so many people who applied to Pitt just because of the uniqueness of the dance program and if you take that away you lose students.”
The educational advisor who founded the dance program, Susan gillis kruman, builds the miner from scratch. She retired last spring after 43 years at the University. Halloran and other PDE members recently published a petition and open letter to Pitt asking him to keep the miner despite Kruman’s retirement. As of Monday evening, the petition had collected more than 1,460 signatures.
Kruman said the chairman of the department Thomas Farmer told him about the possible withdrawal of the minor during his June exit interview and that Pitt is not currently looking for his replacement.
Seldin did not directly respond to whether Pitt was looking for additional teachers for the minor.
Kruman wrote a letter over the summer to Kenyon bonner, vice-rector for student affairs, asking to meet on the fate of the minor in dance. She said she either wanted her assistants to replace her or the theater program took over the dance minor, but received no response from Bonner.
Seldin said the University had no comment regarding Kruman’s letter.
Kruman began her stay in Pitt in 1978 as a professional dancer and choreographer teaching introductory classes. Kruman said the high attendance at the classes inspired her to create the dance minor. She said the students showed immense passion for the many aspects of dancing.
“When we started with dance lessons, we had over 100 children. I couldn’t even see the floor in the dance studio, ”Kruman said. “I wanted to continue their dance education as an outlet for physical activity, creative expression, art, and so I thought well, we should have the minor for them.”
According to Kruman, many of the minor’s students pursue fields other than dance. Many of his alumni pursue their careers in dance through teaching, performance and even physiotherapy. Some alumni were even inspired to open their own dance studios after their stint at Pitt.
“One of the things about dancing is that we’re kind of our own sorority. The students found their friends in the first year because of all the productions, choreography, rehearsals and lessons, ”Kruman said. “I had the best students – they’re so smart and talented because they could spend a lot of time dancing while still doing their major.”
Emily Schultz, a junior major in biological sciences and minor in dance, has been dancing since she was three years old. She is so passionate about PDE that she started a dance club in Pitt last year called Movement exchange. She said she couldn’t imagine her life as a college student without access to Pitt’s dance lessons.
“I was actually on vacation with my family when I got the email about the dance minor’s removal and I started to panic,” Schultz said. “Dance lessons are very therapeutic for me and there is so much about dancing that I never would have learned without this minor.”
Schultz said that no matter what happens with the dance minor, PDE will always try to organize events and rehearsals, although she said it would be more difficult to book studio time on campus if the dance minor classes were over. While at Pitt, Schultz said Kruman has always advocated for the group to get the resources they need.
“When Susan retired it was very rocky. We were worried because we didn’t know what was going to happen to the program, ”Schultz said. “She was always the one who fought for it and planned things and got things done – now we need a replacement.”
Schultz said the possible removal of the dance minor went far beyond her concerns and those of her classmates. She said the dance minor sets Pitt apart from other universities because it improves students’ physical and mental health.
“The dance community at Pitt is really special and I can’t imagine my Pitt experience without it next year,” said Schultz. “But it’s about future students too – it’s really heartbreaking that they might not have the opportunity to find out just how great we have a great program and the important role it can play in their education. life.”