Sunday, 30 August 2015

US National Centres for Choreography

A great resource that I have discovered recently is NetworkDance which is a cornucopia of information about dance: news, photo, videos, courses and a whole lot more. I have not been able to find out anything about its location from its contact page or corporate structure from its terms but I would guess from the language and style in which those terms are written and its preponderance of US news that it is based in the United States.

Even so, it carries a lot of news and information about the UK including a link to PregDance which offers dance classes in London to pregnant women, nursing mothers and their babies. I shall be exploring this service in another article.

However, I digress. This article is about US National Centres for Choreography and it is about two institutions at the University of Akron in Ohio and Florida State University in Tallahassee. I learned about the centre in Akron from the news item National Center for Choreography launches in an email from NetworkDance on 25 Aug 2015. I clicked the link and found myself on a page of Dance Informa dated 24 Aug 2015 with the same headline. Dance Informa linked to National Center for Choreography to launch in Akron on the University of Akron website which announced:
"The University of Akron and DANCECleveland announced today that they will launch a new center for choreography — only the second in the nation — where the country’s finest dance professionals will create new work."
The article embeds videos of the announcement and a lot of other information about the Centre and dance at the University but it does not say which was the first centre for choreography in the USA.

I did some googling and came up with MANCC which describes itself as
"the only national center for choreography in the world located in a major research institution, and operates from one of the premiere dance facilities in the United States. The Center is embedded within The Florida State University School of Dance, and offers unparalleled opportunities for contemporary choreographers to hone their artistic practice and develop new work inside a creative community."
From a distance of over 4,000 miles it is impossible to compare the two centres but they seem to have much in common. Both seem to have lavish rehearsal studios, theatres and other performing spaces and close links with local dance companies. I wish both institutions well and hope to visit them when next in their respective neighbourhoods.

Though there are several universities in the UK that teach dance and many dance schools offer degrees or other tertiary qualifications I can think of no institution in this country that claims to be a national centre for choreography. Do we need one here? I suppose the answer must depend on the contribution that the institutions in Florida and Ohio actually make to dance in the USA, whether they advance anybody's career and in particular on whether there is a stream of British students to those centres seeking teaching or facilities that are not available in the UK.

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