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Volume 26, Number 5 — May 2019

ETSU puts New Spin on Dance Classes

By By Sheila Gystad|ETSU Student Writer | November 25, 2007

JOHNSON CITY — Dance at East Tennessee State University is taking quite
a turn this fall.

As a new facet of the Division of Theatre in the College of Arts and
Sciences' Department of Communication, instructors say they hope dance
will become better recognized. "The marriage of dance and theater is
that rare thing ... a perfect marriage," said Pat Cronin, head of
Theatre and longtime actor and director.

This change allows students to take dance classes geared more toward
choreography and theater. Cronin said theater graduates have told
former professors that choreography has been their weakest area in

In addition to the anticipated changes, instructors also hope for more
visibility, now that dance is no longer mixed in with physical education
courses but is an active part of ETSU's theatrical endeavors.

"I believe dance will grow and expand much better," said Judy Woodruff,
longtime dance instructor at ETSU and professional dancer, adding that
the partnership should open new doors. "We hope to find a broader
interest in students with dancing offered under Dance instead of PE,"
she said, but advises checking under both listings — DANC and PEXS — in
the ETSU catalog of courses.

While dance and theatre have had a connection through the years, it is
"being put to the test" at ETSU, according to new dance instructor Cara
Harker, who adds, "I think they complement each other naturally."

Harker has been dancing since she was three, while Woodruff has been
involved in the ETSU dance program since almost 1982. "Without the
amazing leadership of Judy Woodruff, the flame of dance here would have
died long ago," Cronin said.

In 2008, the ETSU dance division will present its first spring concert.
Auditions were held early in fall semester and rehearsals are well under
way. Most students chosen for the cast are required to take a repertory
dance class, taught by Woodruff and Harker.

"I think the concert is a great way to give the dance program more
exposure," Harker said.

Both instructors hope more students will become interested in dance as
an academic pursuit, and a minor in dance is also being discussed.
Cronin said this should take place within the next three years, followed
shortly by a theatre major.

Saying the ETSU Division of Theatre welcomes the dance addition, Cronin
said, "We are already collaborating in our curricula and in our
performance schedule. With this new program, in addition to dance
concerts, you'll be seeing more dance-oriented musicals and operas."

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A! ExtraTopics: Dance, Theatre