UTEP held the 2019 general assembly for The World Dance Alliance Americas (WDAA) Feb. 13-17 at the Fox Fine Arts building.
During the four-day dance conference, dancers from across the country and region had the opportunity to attend a series of dance workshops, network meetings and performances.
“Usually we have to travel somewhere else to attend these conferences and a great benefit was that the conference was held here at UTEP,” said UTEP dance student Estefania Ortega.
For students like Ortega, attending the dance conference is an open door to explore their passion for dance and make a difference as they plan their futures.
“Taking different workshops helps a lot to see what I would like to explore more as a dancer and it’s also a great opportunity to meet people from other universities from across the country,” Ortega said. “It’s a networking experience that can help me see different options I have and what colleges I would like to attend in the future to get a master’s degree in dance.”
Dancers had the opportunity to choose between different 75-minute dance master classes that featured contemporary dance, ballet, urban and street dance, among other styles.
Aside from master classes and scholarly presentations, students had the opportunity to join a choreographic lab, a space where choreographers worked hand-in-hand with participants to assemble a dance number that was presented the last day of the conference.
Kim McKean, assistant professor of performance at UTEP, offered a workshop where students learned to own their voice and their body in space through the use of different techniques such as Laban’s efforts – a technique that allows a performer to identify and play a character that is different from themselves.
“The World Dance Alliance is an international organization and it provides networking opportunities, and intensive workshops that they would have to leave El Paso normally to get, but it also shows UTEP commitment to research in the arts which is also really important,” McKean said.
For McKean, one of the most exciting experiences of the conference is seeing her students get pushed outside of their comfort zone, as she said this will help them discover new areas of themselves as performing artists.
“They have met professors from all over the country, from all over the world, so they’re getting different points of view than they might not normally get,” McKean said. “They’re being encouraged to find who they are both as dancers and artists and actors and it’s been wonderful for the students to be able to experience something like that.”
The WDAA is an independent, nonprofit organization with branches around the globe, including the Asia-Pacific Network.
For information on WDAA, visit wda-americas.net.