My friend Paul Parish, irregular Foot contributor, writes from Berkeley:
Don’t know if you’ll be as upset as I am to
hear that the projected budget cuts at UC Berkeley are very likely going to wipe out the
dance program — the one in women’s phys ed, NOT the Dance program in Performance Studies.
But the phys ed program has been there for a
hundred years — Cal was the first state university to have a physical education
program, from the 1890s, and classes for men and women in social dancing were a
part of it from the early 1900s, with several different forms of dance taught
in the women’s program (which also dates WAY back, to ca 1900). It has a
distinguished history of serious productions. Though they have been naturally
overshadowed by the dept of dance since the Woods arrived, still, I’ve seen some
good stuff at Hearst gym within the last year. There was a substantial article
detailing this history in the Journal of the History of the University of
California, (Carroll Brentano, ed.) a few years back.
And the classes are popular. They’ve got modern, jazz, and ballet,
and they’re massively popular. Sue Li-Jue’s ballet class is always huge, it’s
always overenrolled, and has, I’m told, a couple of TAs to help give corrections.
Other popular programs are also in danger — judo, for example — but
they may find their angels among those who’ve benefited from those sports. I
haven’t heard anything about intercollegiate athletics, but they have their own
This threatened cut may be a ploy on the part of a chancellor to get angels to step
forward, but if so, we’ll have to pull our weight just like the martial artists
will. And they’ve got the Sports Section on their team.
It may be up to
people who care about dancing to raise a stink, and it may take some agitation
from the dance press to get the public interested in this at all. The new fiscal
year comes soon, and the squeaky wheel will doubtless get the grease. I’m going
to ask Roberto to let me write something in the Bay Area Reporter [SF's gay weekly]–get some Lesbian noise in
the air. ~p
UPDATE: Even before Paul sits down to write, some heartening lesbian noise in the air: irregular Foot contributor Eva Yaa Asantewaa interviews two UCB students about the effect the announced cuts might have.of her Body and Soul podcast
I wonder what’s happening with university dance programs nationwide, whether public universities are more adversely affected than private ones. It would be interesting to see whether the dance programs are affected more than the other arts–or, when they’re lodged with PE, which is still often the case, with other sports. The fact that dance is often treated as a sport, without having the ra-ra allegiance of college alums, couldn’t be good. At least UCB has a separate department, apart from P.E., for dance studies. At many universities and colleges, the recreation department is it.