Dance department holds intensive summer program

Taylor Metcalf

The time has almost come for dancers to grab their leotards, ballet skirts, tights and tap shoes.

WKU is counting down the days before high school students begin the week-long Summer Dance Intensive.

WKU’s SDI is entering its fourth year and is still going strong in providing knowledge to young dancers and funds to WKU’s dance program. Beginning June 16 and continuing through June 22, students grades 9-12 start intensive courses on campus.

According to the SDI website, the program will include “daily ballet, jazz, and modern dance technique classes along with coursework including pointe, tap, dance improvisation, dance history, and world dance forms.”

Meghen McKinley, a WKU assistant dance professor with the intensive, detailed the benefits of young dancers attending the program.

“SDI allows young dancers to experience what it is like to major or minor in the dance program at WKU,” McKinley said in an email. “Preparation extends beyond only the studio space, but exposes the dancers to topics in the field; dance history, dance in culture, nutrition, pedagogy, to name a few.”

The program also hosts a Q&A where the students can ask questions about, as McKinley said, “college, success as dancers, as well as what other opportunities they have to join dance with other fields.”

The resident assistants for the week are also WKU dance majors and offer insight to the younger dancers.

The program also features guest artists that broaden the dance spectrum for the attendees. This year’s guests include Maria Hall, Matumbe Himons and Kourtney “Koko” French. Hall and Himons are from Sankofa Dance, which is known for its African style. French is the founder of Ink Movement, which practices hip-hop.

“This year, we wanted to offer both new and returning students a new experience,” McKinley said. “Our goal was to support regional dancers and artists and highlight new genre [sic] at our intensive. It is important to us that we continue to expose our dancers to a variety of dance genres and topics each summer.”

SDI averages 25-30 participants each year, creating a close-knit learning environment for the students. McKinley said many of the attending students are incoming WKU freshmen.

Each year, the earnings from the intensive go straight to WKU’s dance program. Last year, the funds paid the airfare and choreographic fee of Cuban artist Juan Enrique Jiminez Sanchez. The money also supported the expense of sending 16 students and four faculty to the American College Dance Association’s South Conference.
Amanda Clark is the dance program coordinator and the co-director of the SDI.

“These funds help us reach a greater number of prospective students, and help is to provide the guest artist opportunities that align us with or push us past other collegiate dance programs in Kentucky and surrounding states,” Clark said.

SDI provides a welcoming environment that allows students to dance and learn as much as they can while still supporting WKU and the dance program.

Features reporter Taylor Metcalf can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected].