Jump for Joy—Reed Launches Dance Major

By Chris Lydgate ’90 | March 1, 2015

Reed has won an $800,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to strengthen its dance program with more classes, more workshops, and—pending approval from the faculty—a freestanding dance major.

“I am thrilled by what the Mellon Foundation’s support will mean for dance at Reed,” says Prof. Carla Mann ’81 [dance 1995–].

The grant will allow the college to expand faculty positions in the dance department from 2 to 2.5, enabling professors to teach 12–13 courses a year. It also sets the stage for us to offer a dance major—something Reed dancers have long hoped for. Reed will launch a search for a new tenure-track professor to begin in the fall. After that, the dance department will devise and propose a major.

The grant will also allow Reed to invite renowned dancers to campus for artistic residencies, during which they will put on master workshops, lectures, and performances.

Interest in dance among Reed students is strong and growing. In spring 2014, some 151 Reed students enrolled in dance courses. And while Reed has long allowed students to pursue interdisciplinary majors such as dance–theatre, dance–literature, or dance–classics, it has never offered a stand alone dance major.

“Dance is central to the liberal arts experience,” Prof. Mann says. “It sparks innovation across disciplines through the way it teaches students to interrogate historical, aesthetic, and social issues; to engage kinesthetically with space, time, and movement; to approach solving problems with creativity and rigor; and to pursue productively both individual and collaborative endeavors.”

With the opening of the Performing Arts Building, Reed now boasts outstanding facilities for dance, including a dedicated dance studio with a sprung wood floor, a flexible performance laboratory space named in honor of the late Prof. Massee, and a retrofitted stage in the old theatre building.

“This is going to be a remarkable time for dance at Reed,” Mann says. “I can’t wait!”

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