The Mills Repertory Dance Company
Mills College’s dance major is here to stay. In October, the dance department received the shocking news that its administration planned to phase out the dance major. After a month and a half of intense campaigning by the faculty, students, alumni and the greater dance community, the decision to keep the major was finalized in early December.
With the decision to retain the major comes some changes. “Students will be able to obtain a dance major with fewer total requirements and will have more flexibility in designing their major,” says dance department head Sheldon Smith. “We are also working with other departments to make sure that students who want to double major have a clear pathway to do that.”
Aside from the program requirements, there will be a gradual shift in the dance majors’ scope of study. “Faculty, students and alums have expressed interest in making sure that our students have access to the broadest range of what dance is in the 21st century,” says Smith. “Some of our courses will better reflect our ongoing interest in shifting away from focused attention on modern dance, toward courses that allow students to engage in a full breadth of movement forms.”
Smith and the other faculty have big plans for the future of the department. “The changes to the dance major are just the first steps toward a larger change in the entire department,” he says. “We anticipate for instance, that by fall of 2017 we will become the Department of Dance, Theater and Interdisciplinary Performance, with a new major in interdisciplinary performance.”
Photo by Shinichi Iova-Koga