The Department of Theatre will launch a new musical theatre dance track for incoming freshmen and upperclassmen in the fall.
Dawne Meeks, chair of the department, said students can now get a minor in dance or major in musical theatre with a dance track. The full-time dance instructor will be Lily Balogh, who trained with the American Ballet Theatre, the New York City Ballet and Ballet Flanders in Belgium.
“For us to have someone with the character and talent level that Lily has is a blessing,” Meeks said. “Every movement she’s crafted has been on point.”
A private donor provided the funding which made hiring a full-time dance instructor possible, Meeks said.
Meeks said allowing students to major in dance has been her dream for more than 20 years since she was a student in 1992. At the time, dancing was not permitted on campus although shows could feature choreography. Meeks taught a few dance classes off-campus while she was a student, but they had to be called “choreography” classes.
The university changed its policy to allow both dance classes and on-campus dances in 2012. The first on-campus dance took place March 22, 2012 in the Hunter Welcome Center.
For the last five years, the department has brought in guest artists for semester classes or workshops to allow musical theatre students to take classes. Guest artists varied from Teri Wilkerson, a local dance teacher who choreographed Sing Song downstage acts, to Melissa Zaremba, a dancer who performed with New York’s Radio City Rockettes.
Meeks said having a dance major will allow the department to bring in more students and provide more options for current students.
“It’s missional because we’re helping students grow their God-given gifts,” Meeks said.
The department has not yet specified what requirements it will have for students to get into the dance track program, but Meeks said any student can declare a dance minor.