Student shares passion, research for dance

Louisville junior Charles Buckner started dancing during his sophomore year at the Youth Preforming Arts School. Buckner recently won a FUSE grant to attend a conference in Texas this year, after which he will present his findings this time next year as a dance performance at WKU. Josh Newell/HERALD

Ambriehl Crutchfield

For Louisville junior Charles Buckner, dance is much more than entertainment; it is a way to tell his story. Buckner is  majoring in dance with a minor in performing arts administration.

Buckner said he began dancing at the age of 16 at Youth Performing Arts School in Louisville while attending a magnet school. Though he started his dance career later than most, Buckner has always been inspired by what he saw on television and said a MTV show about students in high school inspired him to dive in head first.

Buckner said that the school he attended opened many doors, especially for someone from an urban community. He was able to receive scholarships allowing him to advance in dance. Buckner said he chose to attend WKU because it was the only school in Kentucky that offered dance and was the most affordable option.

After traveling to Chicago with a black dance company this past summer, Buckner became inspired to use his skills to impact the community around him in a different way.

“Art isn’t all about entertainment but also storytelling, so I wanted to research more,” Buckner said.

Not long after, Buckner received an email about the Faculty-Undergraduate Student Engagement, or FUSE, grant program offered by WKU. The FUSE program is designed to foster “active engagement in the areas of research, creative and/or scholarly activities, and/or artistic performances.”

“Receiving the FUSE grant is such a blessing. It will enable [me] to research what black dance is and bring it to my community,” Buckner said.

The grant will allow him to travel to Dallas for an international black dance conference. Throughout 2016, Buckner will research what black dance is.

The aim of the FUSE grant is to solve problems in the community highlighting the quality of life in the public, which will be shown through his dance showcase in February of 2017. Buckner feels strongly about black dance because it is an outlet to express what black people go through.

However, Buckner is not free from his share of concerns. He expressed concern regarding the proposed budget presented by Gov. Matt Bevin. If passed in its current iteration, many liberal arts majors such as dance, or French Literature as Bevin touched on during his Jan. 26 address, will be permitted to study their desired major but receive no subsidized money from the taxpayer.

“There will be more incentives to electrical engineers than French literature majors. There just will be,” Bevin commented during his address, a comment which has garnered much criticism to his proposed model for higher education funding.

Buckner, who sees art as a way to develop creative skills and allow a person to think outside the box, took to heart what Bevin said.

“I feel that the governor is ignorant because the arts are very important,” Buckner said. “Because we live in a world where we literally [are]surrounded by art.”

Alongside developing one’s creative skills, Buckner believes an artistic out-of-the-box way of thinking also goes hand in hand with learning other school subjects. For Buckner, dance is one such subject that also allows expression and enables people to have their own voice.

“Since the beginning of times, dance has been a way to celebrate; dance has been a way to mourn; dance has been a way to tell a story,” Buckner said. “Dance is a universal language because the expression of the body never lies.”