University Dancers (UD) Concerts
Directed by Tom Vacanti, Paul Dennis, and Leslie Frye-Maietta, the annual UD concerts in early December include choreography by nationally established and emerging artists, and UMass and Five College faculty members. The recently-renovated performance space in Totman offers huge potential for experimental and unusual dance/theater productions, with a continued high level of professionalism and creativity by our faculty and students.
University Dancers is the only college touring company in New England that offers audiences a full range of dance repertory, including modern dance, ballet and jazz dance. The company is composed mainly of Dance majors who audition in the fall, to be part of the January performing/touring/teaching company. The touring experience and the interactions at elementary, junior and senior high schools; other colleges; and community and retirement centers have often been life changing for students who discover unforeseen passions or hidden skills. During the tour, students learn the life of a roadie, setting up and taking down a full stage of equipment daily. Skills they gain are far-reaching, often leading to professional work.
The tours enable our dancers to make a significant impact on younger students. For example, UD worked at the Kensington Elementary School, an inner-city school in Springfield, MA, where many families are at the poverty level. Through UD's workshops, activities and performances, the children showed a remarkable brightening of spirit and their standardized test scores rose.
University Dancers has a strong commitment to connecting dance with arts across the UMass campus and with communities unfamiliar with dance. Past collaborations include Pleiades, with the Astronomy and Digital Arts Departments, the Electronic Music and Percussion Programs; e=FAC2, with the History and Math Departments; and Transformations, with the Computer Sciences, Psychology and Music Departments. There also have been collaborations with Lively Arts, drawing and voice classes, as well as numerous collaborations with full music ensembles, including Jazz Ensemble I and Percussion Ensemble.