IU Contemporary Dance program joins Department of Theatre and Drama

  • Oct. 3, 2013


BLOOMINGTON -- Indiana University's Contemporary Dance program, believed to be the second-oldest program of its kind in the country, has merged with the Department of Theatre and Drama.

The newly named Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance at IU Bloomington aims to further explore the arts through collaboration and innovation in performance.

"Contemporary Dance is absolutely delighted to be part of the new Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance," program director Elizabeth Shea said. “Theater and dance are natural partners, and combining our talents will strengthen the performing arts at Indiana University. We look forward to getting to know our new students and colleagues, and joining forces to explore new territories in art-making and producing."

Shea recently returned from Lucca, Italy, where she taught a workshop this summer at Dance Italia on technique, improvisation and her "Somatics Laboratory," a method she pioneered incorporating mindfulness and mind-body awareness into modern dance technique. She brings a wealth of experience to the department, having taught internationally and for various American universities and dance companies.

"The Department of Theatre and Drama is thrilled to create a new artistic home for the Contemporary Dance program," department chair Jonathan Michaelsen said. "Merging these two performing units makes perfect sense. The dance faculty joining our department are no strangers to us, as we have collaborated with them for a number of years on a winter concert in our Ruth N. Halls Theatre. We look forward to having these new colleagues and some very talented dance students joining our theater faculty, staff and students."

Formerly in the School of Public Health-Bloomington, the university's Contemporary Dance program was established in 1927, making it what is believed to be the second-oldest program of its kind in the country. Known at first as "natural dance," the style was a rebellion against classical ballet forms. It broke from tradition by seeking free and expressive movement and emphasizing the creative process, both in choreography and performance, and was inspired by innovations in music and visual art as well as theater.

This year, the Contemporary Dance program will perform two shows as part of IU Theatre's season. "Moving Into Focus," the program's winter dance concert, features New York City choreographer Larry Keigwin’s piece "Runaway" and "Is This the Part" by Laurie Eisenhower, artistic director of the Michigan-based Eisenhower Dance Ensemble. There will also be premieres by IU faculty Selene Carter, Iris Rosa, George Pinney and Shea.

In the spring, the annual "Hammer and Nail" concert pairs student choreographers with student composers from the Jacobs School of Music, whose original pieces are then performed by student dancers and student musicians. Tickets for the concert, at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater, are free in exchange for a donation of nonperishable food for the Hoosier Hills Food Bank.

Students majoring or minoring in contemporary dance are given rigorous instruction in modern dance, as well as ballet and world dance forms. Students can also study tap, jazz and musical theater, which has its own BFA program headed by Tony Award-nominated director/choreographer Pinney.

“Dance’s presence in our department will create an artistic home for this program, while enriching and enhancing the strength of Theatre and Drama," Michaelsen said.

The Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance is part of the College of Arts and Sciences at IU Bloomington.

Dancers perform "Lucy's Bones"

"Lucy's Bones," choreographed by IU Contemporary Dance program director Elizabeth Shea.

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Media Contacts

Amy Osajima

  • Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance
  • Office 812-855-0514
  • aosajima@indiana.edu