Building on its long history of high-level training for dancers, the Peabody Institute will launch a Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance beginning in the 2018-19 academic year.
Leading the new department will be danah bella, former chair of the dance faculty at Radford University and the founder and artistic director of d a n a h b e l l a DanceWorks, a modern dance company focused on reclaiming evocative movement as social practice.
“The Peabody Conservatory Dance BFA is designed to prepare exceptional 21st-century artists to push the boundaries between dance and science and expand the role and relevance of dance,” says Abra Bush, Peabody’s senior associate dean of institute studies. “With her bold artistry and diverse experiences as a performer, choreographer, and teacher, we’re thrilled that danah bella has agreed to lead this innovative new program at Peabody.”
The Dance BFA, a facet of the Peabody Institute’s Breakthrough Plan, leverages the strengths of the Conservatory’s status as both a premier conservatory and a division of Johns Hopkins University. In addition to developing as performing artists, students will explore the interconnections between dance, music, science, and medicine, and will have opportunities to develop expertise in other areas including composition, citizen-artistry, performing arts medicine, movement therapy, and non-traditional approaches to pedagogy.
The Dance BFA also builds on the strong foundation of one of the oldest continuously operating dance training centers in the United States. Established in December 1914, Peabody Dance is currently run through the Peabody Preparatory, and offers high-quality, non-degree dance training for students of all levels, ages 3 through adult. Throughout its history, Peabody Dance has pioneered new dance forms, mounted numerous collaborative projects, partnered with prominent figures in 20th-and 21st-century American dance, and produced accomplished professional dancers, choreographers, directors, and teachers.
“I am honored for the opportunity to join the Peabody Institute as it embarks on a new and exciting period of innovative initiatives that build on its storied legacy of artistic academic excellence,” says bella, who has an MFA in performance from The Ohio State University and a BA in dance from the University of California in Santa Barbara. “I’m thrilled to bring my passion for dance and penchant for student-centered dance pedagogy to shape this groundbreaking new program that will prepare students to be globally engaged citizen-artists.”
bella has worked in higher education since 2002 teaching modern dance technique, choreography, and dance theory, and has performed and presented her work throughout the country — including the Cool New York Festival, the United States Asian American Festival in San Francisco, the Bates Dance Festival in Maine, the American College Dance Association’s National Dance Festival at the Kennedy Center, Santa Barbara, and ReVIEWING Black Mountain College — as well as in Mexico and Italy. In addition, she has taught workshops and served as artist in residence for festivals and universities throughout the United States and abroad.
She is also a founding member of Colectivo Caliban, an artist collective that transgresses disciplinary borders through sound and movement.
— Tiffany Lundquist