Due to the persistent efforts of faculty, students and friends of the dance program, festivity is at hand.
As part of their hard work to save the program, Orchesis Dance Group, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln student dance group, had previously organized a COVID-safe outdoor dance performance supporting the UNL Dance Program. Following the announcement that the program has been saved, however, the student group has switched gears and turned the event into a celebration of the program and a thank you for community support.
The event will still be held on Oct. 9 at 6 p.m. at the North Plaza steps of Nebraska State Capitol. Orchesis will be collaborating with the music students to perform two pieces and provide a socially-distant dance opportunity for the whole crowd. For those who are unable to physically attend, Orchesis will be livestreaming the event on their Facebook page.
Ronnie Green’s initial announcement to cut the program came as a shock to many dance students. The loss of what Thao Duong, senior dance and advertising and public relations major, views as an essential degree program would mean the eradication of the only dance program in the state of Nebraska.
“The UNL Dance Program is the only program in Nebraska that offers a dance major,” Duong said. “So, for the young dancers in the future, if they want to pursue dance at a college level while still paying in-state tuition, UNL would be the only option. Also, if the proposal did go through, UNL would be the only school in the Big Ten without a dance major.”
Students, faculty and friends of the dance program were quick to take action and swiftly began filling social media timelines with petitions, informational zoom calls and various other ways for the community to rally in support to save the dance program.
Receiving almost 6,000 signatures on their petition, the Dance Program students soon saw the support rolling in for their program. The result was something that Maren Schuttler, senior dance and elementary education major, said she was proud to see.
“Our Instagram engagement has been going crazy,” Schuttler said. “Especially with our petition, we’ve gotten way more support than we were expecting. We’ve gotten a ton of new followers on Instagram, which doesn’t seem that important, but just having that engagement and that support has been super important.”
On Oct. 6, an announcement from University Communication came confirming that the valiant work of the students, faculty and friends of the Dance Program had finally paid off. According to the announcement, the UNL undergraduate Dance Program had been saved through an annually supported $180,000 redistribution of endowments in the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts and a donation from a new group called Friends of Dance. The Academic Planning Committee also canceled the public hearing regarding the proposed cut which was set to happen on Oct. 6.
While the Dance Program students and faculty have successfully secured the program’s spot in the degree catalog, dancers like Andrea Trejo Hernandez, vice president of Orchesis, recognize that this was a very close call, and the dance students will need to continue to prove their value to the university.
“We thought it was important to continue to do this event, and future events, to prove our value,” said Trejo Hernandez. “What happened with the budget cuts and everything made it really visible that the dance program isn’t being appreciated as it should be within UNL. It’s sad that we still have to prove our value, but I think it’s made us more resilient … at the end of the day, it has helped us grow a lot.”