This fall, Wagner College will begin offering a new dance education major, building on the strength of its nationally acclaimed theater program, Wagner College Theatre, which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary.
“The new major will cultivate dance artists of the highest caliber, who will be multidimensional in their field of study and dance pedagogy, who will work to build a diverse and inclusive dance community,” reads the description of the new major at Wagner College. Catalog. “The Wagner College Dance Program aims to foster excellence in dance and the best values of the artist-citizen.”
For many years, teaching dance has been an important part of Wagner College’s Theater Performance major. The department already offers a minor in dance.
“Currently, there are over 300 students enrolled in dance classes at Wagner College,” said Rusty Curcio, dance manager for Wagner College’s theater program and guide to the new dance education major.
Several WCT graduates have served as dance captains for some well-known Broadway shows, including Renee Marino in ‘Pretty Woman’, Katie O’Toole in ‘Jersey Boys’, Olivia Puckett in ‘Dear Evan Hansen’, according to the director of the Wagner College Theatre, Felicia. Strawberry.
“Former Monette McKay and Bret Shuford have also appeared in several Broadway shows presented as dancers in the ensemble,” Ruff said. “I would add that their varying levels of success demonstrate the excellence of dance and dance training at Wagner.
“While Dance Education will develop a broader set of skills, these are still people who expect to meet other high caliber dancers and dance teachers. So even if they don’t plan to venture into the more rarefied world of professional dance – and some do – they will find a warm community of people for whom dancing is a lifelong passion.
Ruff said several Wagner College Theater graduates have already entered the field of dance education, including: Jessica Margolis Van Herwynenwho pursued her masters in dance education at NYU and now teaches dance at the bridge school in midtown Manhattan; 2011 graduate Danielle Materese Peyton, owner of his own studio in Cliffside Park, NJ; and graduated 2013 Kara KrichmanDirector of the Performing Arts Program at Monmouth Regional High School.
With a major in dance education, Wagner College will be able to better prepare more students even more effectively for careers in this developing field.
“There is a push to professionalize K-12 dance teacher training,” Curcio said. “There’s so much going on developmentally during this time of life.”
Curcio, who joined the WCT faculty in 1997, has devoted much of the past decade to developing his own professional skills as a dance teacher.
“I was a member of the National Dance Education Organization for 10 years,” Curcio said. “It emphasizes professional development and pursues a dance teacher certification program.
“Another support organization, the International Association for Somatic Movement Education and Therapy, offers many high-level training courses – more than 800 hours of training and a lot of individual work. It took me 10 years to get ISMETA certification.
Three brand new dance pedagogy courses — elementary, intermediate and advanced — will be offered as part of the new major in dance education, starting this fall. Besides these three courses, Wagner College has had all of the new major’s courses on its roster for some time, so it was well prepared for the push to offer this new degree.
“We need a little extra space for the Dance Education program,” Curcio added, “but we found it. We made a deal with St. John’s–Staten Island, whose campus is less than a mile from ours, to use their black box theater space in exchange for allowing some of their students to enroll in Wagner course.
The space in St. John’s will complement the multiple dance studios already in use at Wagner College in the main hall and at the Spiro Sports Center.
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