by Aiano Nakagawa
So a few nights ago I got word that Mills is planning on cutting the Dance B.A. The Mills Dance Program is the longest running dance program in the country and offers a brave space for dancers of all shapes, sizes, colors, genders, sexualities, and backgrounds to find their creative voice and learn about the social history and impact dance has had throughout history.
In their mission statement Mills claims to "educate students to think critically and communicate responsibly and effectively, to accept the challenges of their creative visions, and to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to effect thoughtful changes in a global, multicultural society." So why are they trying to cut the dance B.A.?
As a dancer, there's so much more than meets the eye. When some see us dancing around a room or on stage, they don't get the whole picture. People can't possibly understand the intimacy, connection, empathy, and awareness that comes with knowing your body and others in the way we do.
How can we move towards a better world? Why not start by understanding ourselves and having an awareness of others to the extent of being able to fully trust another to hold all your weight? Dancers are able to anticipate movement in others before they've even moved. We're able to detect the slightest change in energy and have been trained to notice the smallest of changes in ourselves and in others. Dance allows us to engage and be in charge of how we move through space and interact with others. Dance offers tools and vehicles to become a more aware, empathetic, and enlightened person.
So the dance department isn't making Mills enough money? Well we don't dance to make money. That's not what it's about. As dancers we are some of the most undervalued artists in the world and for an institution to claim that they "provide a dynamic learning environment that encourages intellectual exploration" they sure seem to taking the side of those who believe that the arts have no value or potential to unleash radical social change.
Please click here to sign the petition and show your support for a program that has deep roots in dance for social change and in supporting dancers of all backgrounds.