Posted: February 27, 2015 at 1:39 am

By Lauren Caccemo, Katie FitzGerald, Maurice Matthews, and Zach Oser.

Morgantown, WV — In the past, Dance Now! has acted a showcase of West Virginia University students’ talent and original work. This year, the annual performance will demonstrate the product of an unusual and exceptional year for the dance program at WVU.

After decades of being transferred from one department to another, dance has finally found itself a home after becoming its own major within the College of Creative Arts just last year.

“It’s really grown a lot over the past few years. There have been a lot of changes made and I see it (the major) going in the right direction,” said Yoav Kaddar, director of the dance program.

The newly offered B.A. degree in dance if the first of its kind in the entire state of West Virginia. For years students were limited to dance being offered only as minor area of study. Today, 130 WVU students participate in the School of Theatre and Dance.

The program, which admits students on an audition basis, maintains a smaller but significant student body, which not only proves a growing interest and dedication by students but also allows students the one-on-one mentoring essential to live arts studies.

Though the major currently requires a student to explore the plethora of dance styles offered by the program, including ballet, tap, and jazz, Kaddar said that there is potential in the near future to tailor more specific programs to individual students in and outside of the College.

“It would be nice to establish some sort of complement to an education major or physical education major or even athletic training, because really dance could lend itself so beautifully to these other areas of study,” Kaddar said.

Dance originally came to WVU in 1928 when a group of women founded the Orchesis Dance Ensemble. The ensemble experimented with what they called “free expression dance”, a new and innovative form of dance which is today more commonly known as “Modern Dance”.

Since then, the dance program has taken off considerably.

Beginning in 1978, Professor Kacy Wiedebusch, former coordinator of the dance program, founded the artist-in-residence program. The new initiative has since been a major incentive to prospective students around the country, providing new work and teaching techniques from artists of national reputation each year.

One such residence from 1999 and again in 2002, Alan Sener, had choreographed workshops all over the world and assisted in feature films, music videos, and television commercials, showing the true variety and inspiration these residents have to offer students.

Dance Now! celebrates over 80 years of dance at the university, showcasing choreographed work by students as well as student dancers. These students are given the opportunity to audition for industry professionals and workshop their pieces for the annual concert performance.

This year’s Masterworks Guest Choreographer Adam Barruch chose eight WVU student dancers to perform his work for the 2015 Dance Now! performance. Barruch has performed on Broadway, film and television and was accepted into the dance department at the Julliard School. Last year, he received the Lotos Foundation Prize in Arts and Sciences, which recognizes institutions and individuals for distinguished accomplishments and exceptional talent in the arts and sciences.

“I look for dancers who have a natural sense of the way I move, and an emotional connection to their bodies,” Barruch told WVU dance students in a question-and-answer session. “They may not immediately grasp the complexities of the coordinations perfectly, but I can usually tell very quickly if someone will be able to grasp it. People who are committed to what they do without imposing anything artificial onto the work also catch my eye.”

This year’s concert established the 60th anniversary of an annual dance concert held at WVU.