Opportunities for students interested in dance are plentiful this semester, ranging from rooftop salsa parties to a study-abroad stint in Cuba.
The Dance in Havana exchange program and the production of “Amahl and the Night Visitors” are two chances for students interested in dance to get on stage. Both of these programs will have required auditions at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Turner Center studio.
The Dance Cuba program is a residency partnership with the Malpaso Dance Company that intends to lead the university in having international ties with Cuba. Nov. 14-16, the University of Mississippi will host members of the Cuban dance company who will get involved with classes around campus and shed some Cuban insight to a plethora of classes and programs across campus.
“To me, this is bringing the whole campus aware to how dance artists are definitely a part of the political scene,” Jennifer Mizenko, professor of movement and dance and director of Mississippi: The Dance Company, said. “Sociologically, dance reflects what is happening in its society.”
After the members of Malpaso have spent time in Mississippi, eight to 15 students will travel back with them to Havana, where they will learn about Cuban history and culture. These students will practice a routine with Malpaso during their time in Havana and then return home to perform with the company in January at the Ford Center.
Mizenko said the exchange has been a dream of hers for years, but this is the first year the program will take place.
“I am always trying to think of new things to challenge dance students and keep the dance community relevant within the campus, and I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if a dance company came to visit Oxford from Cuba?’” Mizenko said.
The second program that students can audition for Tuesday is the Ford Center’s production of the opera “Amahl and the Night Visitors.” It will be performed in December in the Ford Center alongside a live orchestra.
If students are interested in dance but have no previous experience, there are opportunities for them, as well. The university offers introduction to dance classes every semester in fields ranging from tap to contemporary. Due to the high level of interest in these courses, sections fill up almost immediately, but there are more options for students who want to get involved.
There are also many student-led dance organizations throughout campus in which students can get involved. Victoria Burrow, artistic director of Ole Miss Student Dance, recommends peer-led clubs for students with little to no dance experience.
“For those who have little to no experience, I would come to OMSD or Hip-Hop Rebs classes because they are very laid-back but still capable of teaching new dancers basic technique,” Burrow said. “You can always audition for OMSD’s concert, as well. We have people every year who have either barely danced or never have before, and they’re great.”
For Mizenko and Burrow, dance is a crucial part of the Ole Miss community.
“A college campus is not complete without dance,” Mizenko said. “Think about it – it’s a part of the fabric of the community.”