Arts & Culture

Dance scholarship program expanded

By
Staff Writer
Sunday, October 23, 2011

In collaboration with Northwestern and Stanford universities, Brown announced Oct. 11 the creation of a new dance studies program that incorporates doctoral fellowships and summer seminars for the expansion of research and scholarship in the field of dance studies.

The “Dance Studies and/in Humanities” arts program is funded by a $1.4 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and will cover two-year appointed fellowships for two or more individuals between 2012 and 2016. Fellows will be equipped with the tasks of teaching an introductory course on dance studies and another course in their specialty area, said Rebecca Schneider, chair of the theater arts and performance studies department.

“Because dance doesn’t have a literary- and object-based history, it’s a very embodied practice,” Schneider said. “The question is ‘What’s dance research?’ Scholarship has not developed as much for dance.”

Dance studies focuses on “how movement means and travels, and practices get in the body. It’s seeing the texts of sources on bodies,” Schneider said.

Though many scholarships are available only to students of theater, this program will provide students in other areas of art with access to scholarships as well, she added.

Jarrett Key ’13, a concentrator in theater arts and public policy, said the program is a great opportunity for the University.

Brown’s focus on dance scholarship is manifested in the Bryson Dance Collection, currently housed at the John Hay Library. Over 2,000 rare arts items, such as class pictures and journals, are on display. “Here is a perfect example of how scholarship is becoming part of the research,” said Sam Jambrovic ’12, a performance studies concentrator. “I’m very interested in the body as an archive for history of society, the way it reveals society and how it’s affected by others,” he said.

The arts program could also pose challenges for the University. Since scholarships on dance have not been studied or recorded earnestly until now, librarians will have to learn how to catalog this material, Jambrovic said.     

The three directors from the universities — Schneider, Susan Manning from Northwestern and Janice Ross from Stanford — will read applications from post-doctoral fellows. They will be in charge of selecting fellows they feel appropriate for their university.

“We have the right to tailor to the needs and strengths of each university. We will make it even and rank the short list we will bring out,” Schneider said.

“We are already building upon a strong program,” she added.