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Some Words from Past Dance Students

From Ellen Gerdes, Dance EdM class of 2009 and adjunct faculty from 2009-2013

World Arts and Cultures/Dance PhD student at UCLA, and recipient of the 2007 Association for Asian Performance Emerging Scholars Award

 

Six years ago, I was deciding between another university and Temple, and I have never regretted my decision to attend Temple for my Master’s. I had invaluable teaching experience in the dance department and at the writing center, and it is at Temple and in Philadelphia, where I have grown as an educator, dance writer, and dance-vocal artist thanks to your mentorship. I truly love the diversity of Temple's student body and have enjoyed getting to introduce the dance majors to dance history, education, and writing! Other graduate programs are amazed at the amount of university teaching experience I have already had, and I could not be more grateful for this experience.

 

I am eager to join Temple’s dance faculty members in building bridges between theory and practice and am deeply grateful for their support and confidence in me as I move forward with my career.

 

A Message for Prospective Students from Kiara Aguayo, Dance BFA class of 2012

 

I am so excited for you to begin this dance journey and find some choices that seem right for you (you will see by the end of this message that Temple is the best!) Here are my answers to some questions that prospective students commonly have.


What opportunities have you had to perform, and have you worked with any choreographers?

 

When I first transferred to Temple I took my Conwell Theater course (which everyone takes.) This submerged me into the dance load that really happens in the theater. You are required to help back stage at a few shows that semester and that helps you meet the students that work there all semester, the dancers with passion, and the people who fall into both categories. I then took my repertory class during which I worked with Kun-Yang Lin he is a teacher and choreographer that came from Taiwan, established himself as a New York choreographer and now a Philadelphia choreographer with his own studio names Chi MAC. Seeing as he knows what he's doing, I am proud to say that I even took composition classes from him.

 

Being in the Temple Dance Department means you get the best of "Temple Town." Philadelphia is known as Temple Town because Temple dancers have access to every venue, every performance, and every choreographer through networking. While going to school I performed in every Philly Fringe Festival. One of the times is was with a grad student. I met her because the undergrads and the graduate students take the same dance classes. The focus of the class may be different but the material is the same. This brings you up to a higher level faster than you could ever imagine.

 

Finally, there are many venues in the college campus itself aside from our awesome Conwell Theater. This is Tomlinson, Randall, Student Center, Hock Hall. In Rock Hall I was filmed for the Temple Made commercial that aired during the Presidential debates this past election. (pause it at :06 and BAM that's me.) That's the photo you see when you go to www.temple.edu and hit the 6th block on the banner. You can find more photos of me on the Boyer website and in promotional material that gets sent out to the alumni of temple university.

 

Although I did not choose to advance in this route I have to say you will have access to the woman who codified her own style of African dance called Umfundalai. Dr. Kariamu is an author and a dancer, her company practices in our studios every weekend, and her students teach at other well-known Universities such as Eastern. I could honestly write a page on each professor, their life accomplishments, and why you should take class from them so please do not hesitate to ask me about any of them.


What has your experience of the campus and facilities been like?

 

Being at Temple means being in the city. If you're not in the studios you are outside; you will be taking gen-ed classes and other classes of your choice around the campus. You will be familiar with the area outside the library called The Bell Tower and the grassy surrounding area called Beaury Beach.


All of our studios are spacious, have spring floors, and are high-tech “smart classrooms.” Having our own black box dance theater is great too. However, when I am in class, I am focusing on myself and how to incorporate what the teacher is guiding us to do and am really not paying attention to the aesthetics of the surroundings.


I also remember you mentioning you were an Honors student. How have you made the most of that as a dancer? Did you double-major or do any minors?

 

One of my friends double majored in Kinesiology and Dance. Many other dancers have minors and certificates. I personally was part of the Honors Fraternity on campus Phi Sigma Pi. With them I traveled to Washington DC, volunteered to clean up parks, worked on leading social media projects, held leadership positions, and guided other students through the initiation process. This involvement gave me access to seminars and most importantly access to other students of varying interests. When you meet others who are interested in business, finance, magazine creation, authors, etc. you feel inspired to do more within your field.

 

Do you feel like you were really challenged? Was the modern program more classically modern or post-modern?

 

Yes, during my first semester I took a class with Lisa Kraus where we learned a 2 minute dance and then learned how to retrograde it in its entirety. Since I can't ask you if you know what that is, I will summarize it here. When you watch a movie and you hit PLAY you see the characters move as normal people, when you hit REWIND a whole new word opens up. We had to learn how to REWIND the dance and then at any point in time, if we heard the words "reverse", we learned how to go from PLAY to REWIND in one breath.

 

In another semester I took modern with Jillian Harris who took the whole semester to teach us in 7s. No longer did we hear 5,6,7,8 but rather 5,6,7,1. The levels are set so that you are learning crucial material in each syllabus, (use of gravity, head tail connection, core distal movement, homolateral coordination, qualitative shifts, etc.) not to mention that you can use all of these tools in other genres such as jazz and tap classes in the department.

Academia is a huge part of your education, you will be taking history classes and several levels of composition, each dance class syllabus has a paper requirement ranging from reflection or critical analysis, and much more. Also, you will have master classes with foci in classical modern.

 

I wouldn't say the curriculum is just post or classical because you get exposure to both. There is an emphasis on abstraction. If a flower inspires us we wouldn't learn how to dance "like" a flower, or dance with a flower but rather we would have to research the flower, what colors it comes in, the symbolism of the flower all over the world, how the flower relates to you and FINALLY what you relate to the audience. I just mean to say that the process is flexible enough to not be classical and deep enough to not be post-modern... it's really post-post.