Dance Major Takes Lots of Work

Diane Oh/New University

by Marko Ocampo

Dancing is a pretty big thing at UC Irvine. In addition to being home to prestigious crews such as Kaba Modern and Common Ground, our university also holds one of the top dance programs in the country. According to DTN Magazine, our school’s undergraduate dance program ranks ninth overall while the graduate program ranks seventh in the nation. That’s something to be proud of as our dance program is top- ranked with private academies and prestigious dance schools.

Rachel Landrum’s days are spent working on her technique and refining her body. A first-year dance major, she is still working on the basics.
“This year I have taken jazz and ballet. I only have one dance class each day but I have also taken dance health and music for dancers. I also spend extra time working out, conditioning, stretching and keeping in shape for classes.”

Despite dancing since the age of 4, the auditions were still challenging. “It was definitely one of my top choices to start my career in dance,” she said “I had heard that they had a very prestigious dance program … I realized that dance was something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I have been trained in ballet, jazz, contemporary, modern, Irish dance and hip hop but the auditions were a little difficult for me because the kind of style for each genre was a little different than what I was used to.”

Shelbi Monson, a third-year, in contrast, is in the hey-day of her dance preparation. Her first two years were easy compared to now.

She has taken classes in ballet, modern, jazz, contemporary and even musical theater as her major requires her to know the basics of all dances. In addition, Shelbi, like Rachel, has had plenty of conditioning work and extra-curriculars such as working at Boogie-Zone, a local dance school. She also approaches conditioning scientifically, using kinesiology techniques.

This past fall she was a featured dancer in a local showing of the musical “Singing in the Rain”, which took three months to prepare for.. Her schedule during the shows rehearsals was killer. She had to withdraw from extracurricular activities on campus such as Improv club in order to manage her time efficiently. She expressed that the biggest challenge was keeping an adequate sleeping schedule with the workload at the time, and that social time was affected greatly as she was very busy with class, work and the show. Nevertheless she absolutely loved the performance and was glad at the turnout.

So the question remains, is our school’s dance program proper according to the students? Well, yes it is. “I am satisfied wit the program and the teachers. I was a bit confused by the audition process in the beginning and found it to be somewhat difficult compared to other auditions I have done but overall, the teachers really know what they are doing and I feel like I’ve grown a lot as a dancer since my arrival,” comments Rachel about UCI’s dance program. Shelbi, a veteran of the dance program has found it to be quite the journey. Since her arrival two years ago from Wisconsin she has very much enjoyed her stay here in Irvine and continues to improve as a dancer. She thanks the teachers for their hard dedication and really appreciates the work they put in as she has discovered that UCI’s dance ranking isn’t simply a number, but a reality.