The Boyer College of Music and Dance does not allow non-dance majors to take most classes, sending student-dancers on a search for an alternative.
Senior Victoria Marcinek has been dancing her entire life, concentrating in jazz and lyrical dance. But in order to continue her passion at Temple, she had to join In Motion, a student-run dance ensemble, since most dance classes are allotted for dance majors only. A broadcasting, telecommunications and mass media major, Marcienk eventually became the leader of the company and now recruits other dancers to join and contribute choreography.
“Our group is really another outlet for people to dance,” Marcinek said before In Motion’s weekly Sunday practice. “I missed dancing when I got to Temple, but I didn’t want to be a dance major because of limited career opportunities. It is hard to commit to being a dance major.”
As a dancer myself, I had to make several adjustments after arriving at Temple. Used to dancing at least six hours a week, performing at competitions and having a studio close to home, I have not had the opportunity to enroll in ballet classes at Temple due to the major requirement. Now, I have to dedicate a substantial amount of time to get to Koresh School of Dance, located at 2020 Chestnut St.
To major or minor in dance, Temple’s dance department requires an audition, which consists of several classes, a solo and an interview. Classes take place in Pearson Hall, where there are a few relatively small studios for students. For a dancer who does not want to obtain a degree in dance, it is impossible to take classes within the Boyer School of Music and Dance other than non-major electives, which require special authorization from the Boyer admissions office.
Fiona Neale-May, coordinator of admissions and recruitment at Boyer, said classes are limited in size. Only about 25 students can comfortably fit into the studio, and classes are requirements for dance majors, so they fill up relatively fast, simply not leaving enough room for others.
And while students can still minor in dance, the program is highly competitive. Last year, only two outsiders to the department were accepted as minors.
I auditioned in February to minor in dance but was disappointed to learn I did not make it into the program. I opted to take one of the few electives, African dance, during the Fall 2009 semester.
Some dancers, such as Laura Boyer, a freshman theater major and member of In Motion, have concerns about the reality of being a dance major.
“I want to stray away from eating disorders that arise within the dance community,” Boyer said. “I auditioned at the University of the Arts for dance, but it was too intensive. I decided I just wanted a group on campus to dance with.”
As an alternative, dancers can attend off-campus studios like Koresh, which has two studios and holds classes seven days a week. But even Koresh, a relatively inexpensive (a single class costs $15) and accessible studio with classes that have varying intensity levels, poses some problems for students interested in dance.
“Koresh is far,” Boyer said. “It’s really the distance that stops me from going so much. It is a full commitment to take the subway there, take the hour and a half class and then take the subway back. I have been to Koresh once to take a ballet class, but that’s it.”
I have taken both hip hop and modern dance at Koresh – and while the classes are definitely challenging and intense and the teachers accomplished, I miss the opportunity to get on stage.
Because of this, I’ve decided to audition to major in dance for the Spring 2010 semester. Dance is a risky major with limited job opportunities, and dancers must make a tough decision when entering Temple: either cut back on lifetimes of devotion to dance, or dedicate their lives – and potentially educations – completely to it.
Cary Carr can be reached at email@example.com.