Texas Tech University

In Motion

Kyla Olson

May 5, 2022

Kyla Olson

How is it already May? Where did the year go? It feels like yesterday when I was writing my first In Motion article for newsletter reflecting on the year ahead of us. And now, here we are, closing out the academic year and heading off for the summer. 

This academic year brought many ups and few downs with the shift back in person to classes and performances. We welcomed a wonderful, new cohort of incoming students to the dance program, as well as new faculty and guest instructors. Visiting lecturer, Kevin Guy, joined our program for the year, bringing with him a wealth of knowledge and professional experience that benefited our students and campus community. Renowned b-boy, YNOT, aka Anthony Denaro, was in residency this past August and came back to teach as a lecturer this past spring semester. His expertise and experience in hip-hop are great for our students, and we are thrilled to have him stay on with us next year. In the fall, we will welcome our new Assistant Professor of Practice, Melissa Brading. Melissa worked professionally in New York for many years, has taught various styles of dance to people of all backgrounds, and served as a faculty member at the Limón Institute. She holds an MFA in Dance from the University of Michigan and a BFA in Dance Education from the University of Central Oklahoma.  

Sadly, we will say goodbye to Assistant Professor of Dance, Dr. Tanya Calamoneri, in a few weeks. As a Butoh specialist, she has been a key faculty member in bridging the gap between theatre and dance. For the last five years, she brought an excitement and fearless energy to the program that will be sorely missed. 

I must brag about this year's faculty and student accomplishments. In addition to the three successful dance productions—Fall Dance Festival, DanceTech, and an evening in Frontier Fest—our students participated in productions off campus at the First Friday Art Trail, Outside In Festival, and at the TTU Museum for a site-specific traveling performance of BFA dance majors. At the South-Central region of the American College Dance Association festival, we presented three student-choreographed works. Two years ago, we launched the M.A. in Dance Studies program, and we have our very first cohort graduating this May! Dr. Tanya Calamoneri published her book, Butoh Dance in the United States and Mexico from 1970 to the early 2000s. Dr. Ali Duffy was promoted to Full Professor of Dance. Yvonne Racz-Key, ballet instructor, was selected as a Visiting Fellow of The School of American Ballet. Erin Harold Alvarado, TTU Pom Coach and dance instructor, led the US National Jazz team to gold at the International Cheer Union World Competition in April. Kris Olson, contemporary instructor, won the 2022 LHUCA Award for Performing Arts. And Genevieve Durham DeCesaro, Full Professor, served as our Interim Dean of the J.T. and Margaret Talkington College of Visual and Performing Arts. We are incredibly grateful for her outstanding leadership and service to the college. 

It is an honor to work alongside our amazing faculty and students – truly inspiring. I am excited to continue in the role as Head of Dance for the upcoming year. 

For now, I'm looking forward to the summer to take a breath and prepare for next fall. Cheers to a wonderful year!