Dance programs will host open house

Steven Barnum , Assistant News Editor

Western Illinois University’s Dance Minor program is hosting an open house on Saturday.

Organized by Western Dance Faculty Lara Petrin, University Dance Theatre (UDT), the Western Swing Dance Club and the Belly Dancing Club, the open house will offer demonstrations on various dances. Heidi Clemmens, an associate professor of dance that will also help orchestrate the open house, believes the event is necessary to promote the dance programs at Western.

“We want to make sure the students on campus know that WIU has a strong Dance Minor program, as well as many performing opportunities on campus,” Clemmens said. “We frequently have students approach us in their junior or senior years, saying they had no idea there was a dance minor at WIU, and they would have pursued it had they known.”

The open house will offer students brief classes in styles of dance like hip hop, jazz, belly dancing, swing dancing and Afro-fusion. Each style will be taught in a half-hour session led by an experienced dancer in the program.

Dance programs at Western regularly receive recognition: UDT attends a regional dance conference each spring; they’ve been chosen three times to perform at the National American College Dance Association conference at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.; and they’ve made multiple appearances in Gala performances. No matter how busy they are, all students are encouraged to fit dance into their schedules. The Dance Minor is just 19 credit hours, which lessens the workload of pursuing another field as a major. It’s quite common for those who minor in dance to major in fields like psychology or business. Since many believe this is difficult to accomplish, the open house will seek to erase the misconception.

“We try to help students determine how much time they have to commit,” Clemmens said. “You’d be shocked how many Law Enforcement major/ Dance Minor combinations have come through our program.”

In addition to working around the schedule obstacles, Clemmens teases the possibility of meeting life-long friends or even future spouses in a dance program. On an academic level, dance could open up windows of opportunities for scholarships or teaching jobs. At the very least, dance could provide students with a fun method of fitness and a creative way of expressing themselves.

Certain programs, like UDT, even allow students who aren’t dance minors to participate. The UDT gives students opportunities in choreography and leadership. Clemmens highlights the strength and value within the dance minor program. After graduating college, some start their own dance companies, some open a studio and others perform or teach at the professional level.

Saturday’s open house will be the first of its kind, but organizers hope to host more in future semesters. The complete schedule is as follows: Afro-fusion from 1-3:30 pm.; jazz from 1:45- 2:15 p.m.; hip hop from 2:15-2:45 p.m.; belly dancing from 3-3:30 p.m.; contemporary/ modern from 3:45-4:15 p.m.; and swing dance from 4:30-5 p.m. All sessions will be held in room 200 in Brophy Hall.

“It’s so important to be able to pursue and feed your passion,” Clemmens said. “WIU’s dance program is small, but mighty. The rewards are plentiful!”