Saddleback dance program offers diverse curriculum

Dance program’s concert in 2009. (Photo courtesy of William Dick )

Taylor Carney

The dance department at Saddleback College offers programs for interested students that will  expand their knowledge of dancing styles during the spring and fall semesters.

The dance program has been around since the opening of the college in 1968. Students can earn an Associates of Arts Degree in Dance by taking a minimum of 60 units with an overall GPA of 2.0.

All that is needed is the required general education and dance courses.

The curriculum includes a variety of courses like, training in ballet, jazz, tap, modern, and pilates according to Saddleback’s dance department website.

Even students who aren’t looking to attain an arts degree are welcome to take any dance courses. New dancers should be taking Dance 10 and 11 along with any other classes that may interest them. Dance 10 and 11 help with technique and help prepare a dancer for the semester concert.

Once receiving an Associate of Arts degree in dance, most students continue on with their education.

“A lot of students teach in local dance studios or attend a four-year university,” said Dorothy Garant, dance instructor at the college. “Having this degree really shows a kind of commitment to the universities.”

Dancers should also be trying to find ways to enhance their dance skills.

“Any movement experience a dancer can get like tai chi or yoga is really good because it will strengthen them,” Garant said.

According to the college’s dance department website, before reaching a professional level students are supported to explore dance creativity in classes like Exercise for Dancers, History of Dance, Choreography, Dance Production and Rehearsal, and Performance.

“Students who have furthered their career work at studios like Ballet Pacifica and David Architexture Dance,” Garant said.

The Dance Department studio have installed hardwood floor that absorbs the shock when the dancers are doing jumps, sound equipment, and three-sided mirrors which allow the dancers to focus on each movement, according to the website.

The program puts on a performance every semester, which are held in the McKinney Theatre.

According to Saddleback, the theatre is “equipped with a marley floor, cyclorama, fly system, computerized lighting system, dressing rooms, green room, and large scene shop.”

The Dance Department’s performances are also broadcasts from the college’s own cable television show, Cox Channel 39, all through south Orange County.

This semester’s concert is Winter Dance 2011 that will be performed on Nov. 17 and 18. The winter concert is choreographed by faculty, but in spring the concert is produced by the students.

Dancers also have the chance to perform in the American College Dance Festival that occurs every spring where they will compete with colleges from all over the U.S.

“We encourage the faculty and students to come and see what the dancers can do and get involved with the program,” Garant said. “Each year we have more and more public coming to see the concerts.”

There are no auditions for admission into the program. However,
auditions are required for the participation in the performing of the major concert each semester. The auditions are held the first week of class each semester.

The instructors for the department have been selected for both their dance and teaching experience.

All the faculty members have performed and taught throughout the country.

Garant has a master’s degree in movement analysis and yoga from Arizona State University and has been with the college since 1990.

“Dance can be a stress reducer, wonderful fitness, fun way learning, and be taken as a life-long hobby,” Garant said.

Students interested in this program should contact Dorothy Garant at dgarant@saddleback.cc.ca.us.

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