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Guest lecturers to help celebrate 50 years of Brockport dance

by Margaret Stewart - Copy Editor
Thu, Feb 21st 2019 02:00 pm

In addition to being recognized for its education programs, The College at Brockport is also known for its Dance Department. Celebrating 50 years as a department, it is holding “Dance 50,” a multi day event targeted towards all students, alumni and faculty. The event will be held February 21-23.

Brockport’s Alumni Engagement Coordinator Brittany Lang is an alumnus of the college and was a dance major during her time here.

“I loved it,” Lang said. “I transferred in 2008 and graduated from the college in 2011. It’s where my hope for performing as a career came to fruition.”

The college and the department were so impactful, Lang returned post-graduation.

“It felt like I was coming home and being both a student and alumna,” Lang said.

For many in the department, dancing is more than a career or hobby, it is a love that began at a young age. This was the case for Bailey Kernan, a current student minoring in dance at the college.

“I’ve danced for as long as I can remember,” Kernan said. “It was all I knew.”

When it came time for Kernan to choose a college, the program was more of a happy coincidence, but she wouldn’t change anything about it. 

“I came for the study abroad department and found out about the dance department along the way,” Kernan said. “I found out about the department late so I applied and auditioned, and I made it.”

For sophomore Kaitlin Hill, there was no question that she would be majoring in dance. Having moved to New York City to attend Joffrey Ballet School, dancing is Hill’s passion.

“I started taking dance classes when I was 4 years old,” Hill said. “But [I] didn’t start training seriously until I was 16.” 

While the department is what drew Hill to the college, finding out about Brockport itself was also somewhat of a coincidence.

“I went to an open audition in NYC and they had a table about Brockport and I talked to someone about their dance program,” Hill said. 

While drawing in dancers nationwide, the department helps students balance skills and techniques with academics. 

Now planning to teach middle school, Kernan strives to keep the art in her life despite a shift in career goals.

“I wanted to still keep with it, which is why it is my minor,” Kernan said. 

Hill also has expanded her career aspirations past performing.

“Dance has always been my career path but it has changed over the years,” Hill said. “I want to pursue dance therapy as well as performing.” 

No matter the end goal, the Department of Dance has helped shape its students and their futures.

“Brockport helped me become a more well-rounded dancer and person,” Alumni Engagement Coordinator Lang said.

Like many of the college’s faculty, the instructors in the Department of Dance support and provide their students with creative opportunities and outlets designed for exploration and self-discovery.

“They all really care about you,” Kernan said. “A lot of the teachers have very unique interpretations of a lot of different, already well-known artists like Trisha Brown and Garth Fagan.” 

A former faculty member of Brockport’s Department of Dance, Fagan is known internationally for his ground breaking choreography in Broadway’s “The Lion King.” His company and studio are based in downtown Rochester, NY. 

Fagan will be on campus from Thursday, Feb. 21 to Saturday, Feb. 23. He will be joined by Brockport alumni Elizabeth Streb, a trailblazer in the study of action within dance. Founder of STREB Extreme Action, Streb tests the body’s limitations. Unafraid to challenge gravity, she is an extreme action choreographer in every sense of the word. 

Both Fagan and Streb will be giving lectures and demonstrations for Dance 50. The three day event corresponds with the Dance Awareness Days that the department holds annually.

While participants will need to pay for lunches and dinners, the lectures and programs will be free of charge and open to the community, not strictly members of the Department of Dance.