UST Brings Dance Back to Campus With Proposed METdance Partnership
UST will reintroduce a dance program through a proposed partnership with METdance, one of Houston’s largest dance companies. The development of this proposed dance program is in the works, but UST has given students a sneak peek this fall by offering a few dance courses as electives. Courses are being held at the METdance Center, offering Ballet I in morning and evening classes.
The Houston METdance company contracts 13 dancers a year starting in September, and members are trained in-house. The METdance season includes seven main performances per year in Houston at Discovery Green, Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, MATCH, White Oak Music Hall and the Miller Outdoor Theatre.
“We are modeling this dance program not only on the exciting collaboration that the University of St. Thomas has with the Glassell School, but we are also modeling this on programs around the nation that collaborate with professional companies and schools, such as the Ailey/Fordham program,” Dance Educator Jennifer Mabus said. “Students will receive the best of both worlds in the high academic standards and strong curriculum of St. Thomas and the opportunities, mentorships and professional connections that a company like METdance can provide.”
“Our hope is to enrich the educational and professional dance community in Houston with more opportunities for students wishing to study dance,” Mabus said.
In 2016 UST’s Performing and Fine Arts Society suggested a proposed partnership with METdance to offer a program leading to the Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance. The proposed dance program would expand UST’s performing arts offerings and distinguish UST as the only university in Houston offering a Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance. Nationally, UST would also be the only University endorsed by the Cardinal Newman Society to offer this degree program.
METdance received the idea of partnering with UST with great enthusiasm. Mabus, a well-known choreographer, dancer and dance educator, helped design the program, which the UST faculty and Board of Direcors approved in June 2018.
“The hope is for this program to be offered in the Fine Arts & Drama Department,” said Professor Claire McDonald, chair of Fine Arts & Drama at University of St. Thomas. “We will offer genres such as ballet, modern and global dance forms that include dance from around the world.”
This proposed partnership with METdance and UST is still in development, pending expected program accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Colleges. The plan is to offer a bachelor’s degree in dance as well as a minor in dance. Students will also have the option to take a dance class as an elective.
UST’s Fine Arts & Drama Department currently offers Bachelor of Arts degrees in studio arts, drama and theatre education, a Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts with an art history concentration; a five-year dual Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in studio arts; and minors in studio arts, art history and drama.