Celebrating 90 years of dance at UW-Madison
By Kelly Kwiatkowski
Under the leadership of dance pioneer Margaret H’Doubler, UW-Madison became the first university to offer a degree program in dance in 1926.
Nine decades later, the department is celebrating this milestone throughout the 2016-17 academic year with a full season of dance concerts and alumni events featuring special guest artists and dance scholars.
During the 2016 fall semester, the Dance Department welcomed 1981 alumnus Jamie McHugh, who was a protégé of Anna Halprin (BS ’42), one of the department’s most notable alumna. McHugh worked with dance students and community members during a two-week residency Sept. 18-30 that culminated in a staging of Halprin’s seminal work “Circle the Earth — A Dance in the Spirit of Peace.”
Halprin’s “Circle the Earth” began in 1981 as a performance piece of 15 performers and evolved over a decade into a community ritual of over 120 performers. What started as an effort to reclaim a local mountain from a trailside killer later developed into a healing and peace ritual to support the health of people with HIV and cancer. Though the themes of this dance have varied, the nine scores that compose “Circle the Earth” create a consistent infrastructure that can be adapted by any community.
During McHugh’s residency, the department also screened “Breath Made Visible,” a documentary film by Ruedi Gerber that captures the life and career of Halprin.
Meanwhile, the 2017 Faculty Concert will feature work from faculty artists Kate Corby, Li Chiao-Ping, Marlene Skog, Chris Walker, Jin-Wen Yu and Dance Lecturer Liz Sexe. The Faculty Concert will run Feb 2-4 and 9-11.
Internationally acclaimed choreographer and Dance Department alumna Rosalind Newman (BS ’74) will be in residence Jan. 17 to Feb. 4 to work with dance degree students on a performance to be featured in this year’s concert. Newman has created a body of over 80 works. Her original New York company, Rosalind Newman and Dancers, had major seasons in New York at the Joyce Theater and Dance Theater Workshop, and toured the U.S. and Europe performing in many prestigious international festivals and venues.
And from April 26 to 30, the Dance Department will host a 90th Anniversary Festival Celebration.
The festival features four alumni concerts, 20 master class sessions, five panel discussions, an IATech exhibit, a film screening at the Chazen and a Friday Forum Lecture by Dance scholar Janice Ross of Stanford University.
Ross is the author of four books including, “Anna Halprin: Experience as Dance” and “Moving Lessons: The Beginning of Dance in American Education,” which gives a detailed account on the origins and influence of dance in American universities, focusing on Margaret H’Doubler.
Panels, which will include dance alumni from across the globe, will be presented on: Margaret H’Doubler; Dance and Technology; Dance as Healing; Dance as Education in Pre-K–12; and Dance as Education in Higher Education.
Alumna Lise Friedman (BS, ’76) will present her film, “If the Dancer Dances,” at the Chazen Museum. This feature-length documentary preserves great modern dance works and reveals the workings of this evanescent art form.