In the front page article “Dance program fosters bonds” (Nov. 11), the News sheds important light on the radical new commitment to dance as a serious academic subject through an initiative that will develop a continuity of dialogue and training, from ninth graders all the way to seniors in college. While the article captures well the enthusiasm this new initiative has inspired, it is important for readers to understand the enormous significance the curricular component contains. It is this aspect of the initiative between Yale and Co-Op that offers the potential for changing permanently the perception of dance’s role within the University, and in the process, cultivating future generations of highly skilled and sophisticated dance practitioners and scholars.
On Dec. 10, Yale students will perform for Co-Op students the choreography they have been studying in the dance studies courses, including canonical work from American and African dance history. A Q&A will follow in which Co-Op students will have the chance to respond to the work they have just seen. The showing will follow the same format as an event held on Nov. 4, in which my colleague Lacina Coulibaly and I performed a 40-minute duet for an audience of 200 juniors and seniors from all six arts disciplines (creative writing, theater, dance, visual arts, instrumental and choir). Other Yale guest artists to visit Co-Op classes this fall include Maria Jerez, an exceptional young dance theater artist from Madrid, here under the auspices of the World Performance Project and Yale Repertory Theatre.
Given the current climate of deep budget cuts in the public school system, the fact that Yale is able to facilitate dialogue between New Haven high school students and Mr. Coulibaly, a remarkable artist from Burkina Faso, and Ms. Jerez of Spain is nothing short of awe-inspiring. That the arts are so deeply integrated into Yale and Co-Op’s educational philosophies, and so central to our development as a society that we can use dance as a means of reaching out and communicating with the world around us is certainly cause to celebrate.
The writer is a 2006 graduate of Jonathan Edwards College and a lecturer in the Theater Studies Department.