Texas Tech University

In Motion: Wrapping up the Fall Semester

Kyla Olson

December 2, 2021

Kyla Olson

Students in the dance program are wrapping up our last day of classes and moving into finals. This semester has whizzed by so quickly that it feels like a blur. As we shifted back to face-to-face classes and live performances, we shared both the excitement and the exhaustion of being back in the studio and theatre again. 

As I reflect on this semester, my first as Head of Dance, I am proud of the opportunities for students to work with several distinguished guest artists. We began the semester learning from renowned international b-boy and hip-hop artist, Anthony Denaro, aka YNOT, who taught classes and choreographed a piece for DanceTech. We are thrilled to welcome him back for the spring semester to teach hip-hop, improvisation, a hip-hop in pop culture course online and in person, and a VPA special topics course that explores digital live art performance. Melissa Pihos, Assistant Professor of Dance at Valdosta State University, also joined us in November, discussing her interdisciplinary work in dance and filmmaking. She also served as our respondent for Fall Dance Festival, providing insightful feedback to student choreographers and designers, so necessary for our students to learn and critique. 

I am proud of the work of student choreographers, designers, and performers who created the Fall Dance Festival this year. The three almost sold-out performances at the LHUCA Firehouse Theatre reminded us and our audiences of the importance of witnessing live dance onstage again. Each student choreographer navigated the creative challenge of constructing a fully developed work that organically incorporated design elements such as costumes and lighting. Watching our students collaborate was truly inspiring; I was impressed with the scope and talent of the dancers involved. 

A graduate student in the Master of Arts in Dance Studies, Alyssa Islas, successfully defended her thesis presentation, “Inclusionary Practices for Dancers with Disabilities in Dance Company Environments,” this semester. Alyssa's presentation marks the inaugural thesis in dance. We are excited to see the research of these talented graduate students as they advance in our brand-new MA program. 

As the semester winds down, I reflect on these experiences with an immense sense of gratitude. I am grateful to be back in person working on our craft and creating live performances, and especially, for a School that supports both guest artists and our new BFA and MA programs. I've learned much coordinating all the duties as head of our ever-growing dance program, and I appreciate my supportive colleagues and our talented, generous students who are eager to learn. If anything, I support our push to continue to find the intersections between dance and theatre, discovering new and exciting means of collaboration and shared initiatives. 

After a much-needed holiday break where we, in dance, have the opportunity to recharge, we remain excited for the spring semester ahead in 2022. DanceTech is going to be terrific, and we are thrilled to be a part of the next musical, A Little Night Music. Next semester also sees our traveling to the American College Dance Association, where twenty students will represent Texas Tech in a regional festival. 

Wishing the happiest of holidays to you. See you next year!