Texas Tech University

On Pointe

Charlotte Boye-Christensen

April 27, 2021

This will be my final “On Pointe” column as, after considerable thought, this semester will be my last as Head of Dance at Texas Tech University. Reflecting on my time here and the challenges of this particular year, I am proud of the progress that has been made in the program. Combining professional opportunities I have outside of Texas Tech with personal reasons, I recognize that now is a good time to let new leadership guide the future of the Dance Program. On that note, I am pleased to announce that Professor Kyla Olson will be taking over as Interim Head next semester. 

While I have been at Texas Tech, I have acted upon an urgent need to provide students experiences with a diverse group of professional artists, whose work represent a wide range of different experiences: Eddie Martinez from Pina Bausch Tanztheater Wuppertal in Germany; Li Chou Cheng, who was trained at the Beijing Dance Academy in China and was for a number of years the Ballet Master and Rehearsal Director for the Beijing Central Ballet Company; Yumelia Garcia, who performed with the National Ballet of Caracas in Venezuela from the age of 15 and later joined Joffrey Ballet; Parijat Desai, who creates hybrids of contemporary and Indian classical dance; Dwayne Lee Holland, a Hip-Hop dancer and many more. 

I also felt it was important that our students had experiences with site-specific performances and dance on film both through working with faculty but also in shaping their own creative voices. We had one season of site-specific work and one season of dance on film - both generated wonderfully poetic and relevant work from our students, and I am so excited to see that many have now grown to embrace different modalities when it comes to performance. 

Through the generous support of the Bohny Family Fund, Professor Kyla Olson and I were able to bring eight students to NYC for 4 days in January 2020. While there, they took several different technique classes, visited museums, galleries, performances, important architectural landmarks and more. Trips like these are crucial for our students and faculty alike. They inspire, provide context, help to shape new creative ideas and so much more.

While here I have tried to create interdisciplinary collaborative projects with faculty members in our school and in other schools: Philip Mann, Director of Orchestral Studies and I worked on an idea to stage Rite of Spring in an abandoned cotton gin shed with his music students and our dance students; TJ Martinez in The College of Media and Communication and the dance program worked together on creating new PR material and collaborative opportunities for our dance students and his film students; Chris Taylor, Associate Professor at the School of Architecture, has provided feedback to our students on their site-specific work; and Professors Rachel Hirshorn, Dean Nolen and I created a new graduate movement class together. 

I initially joined Texas Tech University in 2017 because of the goals and vision that former Dean Noel Zahler and Director Mark Charney presented. Among the tasks with which I was charged, I remain excited about the entirely new BFA track created for our program, growing organically from the strengths already within the school. The students in this track are provided with a unique interdisciplinary focus, taking classes in design and theatre as well as a more conservatory style approach to their technical training. The degree was accredited in 2019 and we recruited our first BFA cohort last fall, a strong group of potential artists who are on a good trajectory. 

I care deeply about our students and the program, and it was difficult for me to come to my decision to leave. I am grateful for the friendships that I have made here and the opportunity to build on those I had before I came. Thank you so much to all who have shown such gracious generosity of spirit and willingness to collaborate. 

A Response to “On Pointe” from the Director:

When Charlotte explained to me that she was leaving at the end of the year, I must admit that I was devastated. I remember her interview four years ago, when we discussed her role as Head of Dance, and she expressed excitement over the potential of truly embracing the intersection between dance and theatre. As she writes in her column above, she was tasked with creating a new, NASD accredited BFA, and this alone is a massive achievement during her time here. 

But she did much more than that. 

We could not be more fortunate to have spent years with an artist of Charlotte's stature and international reputation. With a keen eye, she began by taking a hard look at our BA program, wanting to make sure that all students truly understood the potential of technique. Because she was first and foremost an artist, learning the academic bureaucracy was a challenge, but Charlotte embraced the task with a keen sense of humor. [Nothing like an outside perspective to make us reconsider how challenging the university system can be!] Moreover, she wanted us to consider dance within the national and international professional arena, inviting guests from all over the world while bringing her unique perspective to our program. 

As she faced, deciphered, and then overcame challenges, our dance program grew. Her concentration of site-specific dance and dance on film, along with her interdisciplinary emphases, ingrained in our students a larger context for the art form. She not only envisioned ways that WildWind Performance Lab and the Marfa Intensive, once theatre-centric, could serve dance, but she embraced the architecture of movement. Charlotte understood deep structure, the subconscious and subtextual layers of dance, and her students and colleagues were all the better for it. She was as much a theatre hire as dance, and her breaking down boundaries made us look at dance in a new way. 

When I hired Charlotte, I knew that she would not be spending her professional life with us. She is first and foremost an artist, one who builds creative work all over the world. I explained to her, though, that the number of years she lent us her talent, her creative energy, her perspective—well, they were enough, and we'd all be the better for it. 

But now, as I face her resignation, I have to amend that statement. Sure, we are all thankful for the time that Charlotte spent at TTU, but I did not foresee that she would be such a part of our community, that losing her seems devastating. We will recover, surely, but as I read her last column for the newsletter, I am reminded of just how much we profited from her ideology, her wicked sense of humor, and her international perspective. And just how much we will miss her. 

Bon Voyage, Charlotte Boye-Christensen. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts for the time you spent with us. We are all the better for it. Please know that, as you face your next adventures, you have made an indelible difference in our lives; your legacy will continue to shape our program long into the future.