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October 20, 2010

New director of dance aims to strengthen program

dancers
Research has shown that kinesthetic outlets (such as dance), “increase the capacity for creativity and problem-solving which is crucial in virtually any area of study—scientific, technical, philosophical, and so on,” says Missy Pfohl Smith, director of the Dance and Movement program.

When Missy Pfohl Smith was appointed director of the Program of Movement and Dance in May, her first move was to change the program’s name to Dance and Movement. The change reflects Smith’s recent efforts to make dance a more visible and interactive presence on the River Campus and in the community.

“There are so many skilled dancers on campus with a serious interest in learning the fundamentals of dance,” says Smith.

Missy Pfohl-Smith
Pfohl-Smith

That interest is evident in the 400 students involved in dance during spring 2010 semester and the 15 student-run dance performance groups on campus. Under Smith’s leadership, students now have increased course offerings in technique; choreography; and a variety of disciplines, including modern, ballet, and jazz. 

As part of the expanded curriculum, students can now choose from four 12-credit clusters in dance, including dance and performance, improvisation and creative process, movement and culture, and mind-body somatics.

“Research has shown that kinesthetic outlets increase the capacity for creativity and problem solving which is crucial in virtually any area of study—scientific, technical, philosophical, and so on,” Smith says.

Founder of the nonprofit contemporary dance group BIODANCE, which will have its Geva Nextstage debut at the end of the month, Smith serves on the board of the Rochester Contemporary Dance Collective. She previously served as an assistant professor in the dance department at Hobart and William Smith Colleges and as interim codirector of the University’s dance program alongside Robert Loughridge before her appointment to director.

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