January 26, 2016
Reggie McNair Jr. loves to dance, a passion he inherited from his family. But growing up, he couldn’t afford formal training. Now that he’s old enough to pay his own way, McNair studies dance at MSU Denver.
“I like to dance because I can express what I’m going through emotionally, physically and spiritually, and even culturally,” he said. “Dance can show where you come from.”
McNair hopes that dance also will be a part of where he is going. He has combined his dance studies with a major in finance with the hope of running a theater dance company in his hometown of Aurora, Colorado. He sees a real need for dance education in the community, particularly for underprivileged children.
Last week, McNair began expanding the professional network that might make his dream a reality when he volunteered at the 28th Annual International Conference and Festival of Blacks in Dance. The conference ran from Jan. 20-24 and brought together more than 500 people from dance organizations and schools across the globe. Put on by the International Association of Blacks in Dance and hosted locally by Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, the event included performances, auditions and workshops, some of which were held in MSU Denver’s PE Building. Besides McNair, five MSU Denver students and two professors volunteered at the gathering.
According to CPRD Executive Director Malik Robinson organizers chose MSU Denver as a venue for the event to highlight a recent partnership between the nonprofit and University. That collaboration created a new dance major at MSU Denver, which gives students access to instruction from CPRD teachers at the legendary organization’s studio.
“We wanted to shine a spotlight on our partnership with MSU Denver and raise awareness about the excellent education you can receive at the University,” said Robinson. “It’s important for students from across the country to know about this program and the great facilities, as well as having a chance to meet some of the faculty.”
The new program expands on the long-time dance minor with more than 20 additional classes in four concentrations: social transformation/world dance and culture; dance pedagogy; dance administration; and performance and/or choreography.
McNair recently took advantage of one of the new courses and is excited by what the partnership can offer him.
“I loved the class. The teacher was phenomenal,” he said. “This partnership is really good for myself and other students. Besides actual dance training, we are getting real-life experience about how dance companies are run.”
When McNair graduates in December 2017, he expects to put that real-life experience, plus his growing professional network, to work for others.
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