Although she is thankful for the opportunity to work more closely with her colleagues from other disciplines, Sally Radell, head of the Emory dance program, is equally glad to gain some autonomy for her own students. In her fifteen years at Emory, the dance program has grown from serving fewer than two hundred students a year to more than eight hundred. Dance now offers some thirty-six courses and both a major and a minor option. Yet, dancers have made do with a studio in the Woodruff P.E. Center and a small space in the Rich building, and have held performances in other venues not designed for dance.

The Schwartz Center “is going to give us independence from theater and music,” Radell says. “Basically, for all our performances in the past, we had to rely on them to give us a weekend in their space, which was a challenge because of full performance schedules. We also had to do a lot of rehearsals in hallways and offices, which can really compromise the quality of teaching.”

The Schwartz Center boasts the first studio and performance space in Atlanta designed expressly for dance. “That’s a big deal, and we have it,” Radell says.

Nina Stratt, a senior majoring in business and dance, will be choreographing a dance for a handful of fellow student dancers this year. Not surprisingly, she’s thrilled to test out the new studio. “One thing has been a big issue being in the WoodPEC, the glass walls all around,” she says. “It’s like being in a fishbowl, people are always staring and watching. They’ll go by and imitate your movements. It can get very distracting. Now we have our own space. It’s so exciting, it will be nice and peaceful, no random people walking in and out.”

Stratt’s choreography will be featured in a concert planned for this spring, the first pure dance concert mounted by students in the program’s history. “It’s all kind of groundbreaking for us,” she says.

“Students pick up on the support that comes from the University. They need space and they need to have their work valued, and having this building shows them Emory values their creativity,” Radell says. “I am thrilled to walk into that studio and feel: yes. This is our space.We can produce what we want in here.”



© 2003 Emory University